Artist Hung Liu, matter of current de Younger Museum exhibition, dies at 73

Artist Hung Liu in her studio in Oakland in 2019. Image: Jessica Christian / The Chronicle

Chinese-born American artist Hung Liu, an Oakland-centered painter internationally identified for her perform discovering notions of identification, immigration and the Maoist lifestyle she grew up in, has died just as her newest show went on show at San Francisco’s de Young Museum.

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco verified the news on Saturday, August 7. The cause of death was pancreatic cancer, Liu was 73.

“We are deeply saddened by the news of artist Hung Liu’s unexpected, premature passing and our thoughts go out to her relatives at this tricky time,” officers at FAMSF, which features the Legion of Honor and de Younger Museums, stated in a assertion. “A vivid and very important aspect of the artist local community in the Bay Space and over and above, Liu’s effects as an artist and as a teacher are profound. A trailblazer amongst Asian American artists, the legacy and considerable oeuvre she leaves driving will continue on to advocate on behalf of the persons who have arrive to our place and aided construct our country.”

In a statement on Instagram, Fantastic Arts Museums Director Thomas Campbell wrote: “Hung grew up in Maoist China, personally experiencing the hardships of the time, the assaults on the intelligentsia and the ideological indoctrination. She migrated to California in 1984 and much of her subsequent do the job has targeted on hard official narratives, both Chinese and American. Lots of of her paintings are impressed by historic images, enlarged to a massive scale, and they constantly celebrate the identity and humanity of the victims of poverty, harsh immigration policies, and social stereotyping.”

On July 14, “Hung Liu: Golden Gate,” an exhibition featuring eight new and present is effective by the artist, opened at the de Young. At the opening, Liu spoke about her function “Resident Alien,” a 1988 portray featuring a edition of Liu’s immigration environmentally friendly card painted in the social realist model promoted by China. Under the spot for her title are the terms “Fortune Cookie.” An enlarged variation of the work is now the centerpiece of the exhibition in the museum’s Wilsey Court, wherever it is scheduled to be on show by means of March. Campbell called the get the job done “a poignant momentary memorial to her passing.”

Liu said that in 1988, the phrase “alien” felt like an really loaded phrase in American tradition, particularly in light of the preferred “Alien” science fiction film franchise.

Hung Liu speaks at the opening of “Hung Liu: Golden Gate” at the de Youthful Museum in San Francisco. Photo: Drew Altizer / Fantastic Arts Museums of San Francisco

“These are IDs we exhibit in all places,” Liu stated. “Airplanes, at the clinic — can I see your image ID? It’s intended to be in your wallet. I felt like wow, ‘alien’ is a definitely appealing time period for authorized inhabitants in this article.”

In its statement, FAMSF identified as Liu “incredibly generous,” and claimed, “In this tragic instant, we are honored to share Liu’s indelible vision with the Bay Location neighborhood that she cared for so deeply.”

Liu’s decades-lengthy connection with the museum features the commissioning of just one of her most famous works, “Jiu Jin Shan (Aged Gold Mountain)” in 1994. The installation consists of a “gold mountain” built of 200,000 fortune cookies, which engulf a crossroads of railroad tracks, meant to stand for the junctions of East and West as effectively as the Chinese immigrants who died although constructing the transcontinental railroad.

The perform was also mounted at the Mills School Artwork Museum in 2013 as component of the exhibition “Hung Liu: Choices.” Liu was a professor emeritus at Mills at the time of her loss of life. Her 2006 set up “Going Away, Coming Home” at Terminal 2 of the Oakland Worldwide Airport is also among the her much better acknowledged functions because of to its substantial visibility to vacationers.  

The Rena Bransten Gallery, which has represented Liu in San Francisco given that 1990, mentioned in a statement: “Personally, Hung radiated light-weight, electricity, joy and generosity. Skillfully, Hung was fearless both equally in China and in America as she embodied and told the broad stories of humanity: flexibility, migration, struggle and love.”

Liu’s do the job is held in long-lasting collections of the Asian Artwork Museum, San Francisco Museum of Present day Art and San Jose Museum of Art, as very well as the Whitney Museum of American Artwork and Metropolitan Museum in New York Metropolis, the National Gallery of Artwork in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles County Museum of Artwork.

But in spite of her renown in the West, a museum present in her native China eluded her. In 2019, a prepared exhibition at the Ullens Heart for Modern day Art to be titled  “Hung Liu: Passers-by,” was canceled by the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Lifestyle around objections to specific paintings. One of the paintings in concern, “Modern Time,” juxtaposed Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and Josef Stalin with “revolutionary” clocks bearing the experience of Chairman Mao Zedong.

“My get the job done is not definitely edgy or extremely political. It just bears witness to background and humanity,” Liu claimed at the time. “I have no idea why the demonstrate was canceled but probably China is not really all set for my function.”

She additional: “I under no circumstances imagined that my operate could be so effective and threatening to one particular of the major nations in the earth. The only response to this is to go again to my studio and preserve undertaking my work, even much better.”

A longtime Oakland resident, Liu lived with her spouse, art critic and curator Jeff Kelley. The pair have a son Ling Chen Kelley.

“Hung Liu: Golden Gate”: 9:30 a.m.-5:15 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. By way of March 13, 2022. Free. Museum admission is $15 $12 for individuals 65 and older $6 for students totally free for those 17 and more youthful. Highly developed time tickets needed. Absolutely free admission for Bay Space people on Saturdays. de Younger Museum, 50 Hagiwara Tea Backyard garden Push, S.F. 415-750-3600. 

Associated Tales

China yanks Oakland artist Hung Liu’s big Beijing present

Evaluate: In Hung Liu exhibition, Golden Gate serves as metaphor for immigrant working experience

Bay Space museums, galleries back with large encounters this summer

Mary E. Alvarez

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