Thousand-Armed Guanyin

In 2012, Thousand-Armed Guanyin by the Chinese-French artist Huang Yong Ping was the first work that Red Brick Art Museum welcomed into its collection. The work is eighteen meters high, with one thousand Guanyin arms grafted onto the form of Marcel Duchamp’s work The Bottle Rack. The bodhisattva’s hands hold or support Buddhist instruments, animals, plants, daily necessities, and waste. The piece is all-encompassing; it is a reflection and examination of the diverse and complex cultural contexts of the contemporary world and a temporal and spatial coordinate for contemporary art. Thousand-Armed Guanyin is a starting point for the contemplation of a contemporary museum’s art collection, and as such, it has shaped the values of Red Brick Art Museum. We believe that, to collect is to endow, and to share is to educate.

On May 23, 2014, the Red Brick Art Museum presented ten contemporary artists in its grand opening exhibition “Tales from the Taiping Era.” Five years later, on July 18, Red Brick Art Museum will look back on its progress and exhibit its collection in “Thousand-Armed Guanyin,” featuring works by seventeen artists: Olafur Eliasson, Dan Graham, Ho Tzu Nyen, Huang Sunquan, Huang Yong Ping, Izumi Kato, Andreas Mühe, Laure Prouvost, Qiu Zhijie, Andres Serrano, Shen Yuan, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Inga Svala Thórsdóttir & Wu Shanzhuan, Wen Pulin, Xiao Lu, and Xing Danwen.

This collection exhibition will include an archive library and a public reading area. Red Brick Art Museum’s Art Archive Center was founded in 2018 and is dedicated to the research, discovery, organization, and dissemination of documentation related to artists and contemporary art history. The collected archives are mostly comprised of donations from individuals, institutions, galleries, and art media outlets, including Time Zone 8, Yuz Museum, Taikang Space, Beijing Center for the Arts, Artforum, Art Collection, Fang Lijun, Wang Guangyi, and Wang Jianwei.

As an international platform and bridge for contemporary art, Red Brick Art Museum has spent the last five years focusing on the past and present of contemporary art. Red Brick has presented many important large-scale exhibitions, such as “Olafur Eliasson: The unspeakable openness of things” and “Rituals of Signs and Metamorphosis;” introduced the world-renowned “High Tension: 8 Winners of the Marcel Duchamp Prize” to Chinese audiences; initiated the first design-centered dialogue between Chinese classical furniture and Danish furniture masterpieces with the exhibition “Identification Zone: Chinese and Danish Furniture Design;” and organized the major international touring exhibition “Huang Yong Ping: Bâton-Serpent II.” Together, these exhibitions have informed the museum’s multi-faceted thinking on contemporary art.

Red Brick Art Museum was founded by entrepreneurs and collectors Yan Shijie and Cao Mei. Dong Yugan, a noted architect and Associate Professor at Peking University, was invited to design the museum. After seven years of preparation, the museum opened to the public on May 23, 2014. The contemporary Eastern aesthetic of the buildings and gardens were shaped from red and grey bricks, and in the wetlands, nature was incorporated to form a dialogue between sun, air, wetland ecosystems and art, thereby creating an artistic wetland hidden in an international metropolis.

In this early stage of contemporary museums in China, Red Brick Art Museum has proposed and put into practice the landmark development concept of the Art Wetland. In a world of digital technologies and artificial intelligence, we are trying to engage with nature and looking for ways to improve contemporary art museums.

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Organised by:
Red Brick Art Museum

July 19-October 13, 2019

July 18, 2019

Olafur Eliasson, Dan Graham, Ho Tzu Nyen, Huang Sunquan, Huang Yong Ping, Izumi Kato, Andreas Mühe, Laure Prouvost, Qiu Zhijie, Andres Serrano, Shen Yuan, Inga Svala Thórsdóttir & Wu Shanzhuan, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Wen Pulin Archive of Chinese Avant-Garde Art, Xiao Lu, Xing Danwen