Indiana University Bloomington IU Bloomington IUB


Perhaps the most famous Chinese-American artist working today, Hung Liu didn’t immigrate to the United States until she was thirty-six-years old. Born in Changchun, People's Republic of China, Liu was trained at the Beijing Teachers College in a rigid Chinese Social Realist style. Her later paintings and prints combine representational subjects with a postmodernist appropriation and layering of imagery and a fluid, expressionistic technique.

This work is based on a turn-of-the-twentieth-century picture of a prostitute, whose services were advertised in a mail order catalog. Since most of this type of imagery was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, it represents a lost (or hidden) aspect of Chinese history. Liu combines the portrait with a traditional water landscape based on an earlier woodblock print. Although the woman has a beautiful peony flower and a butterfly—symbols of good luck—on her coat, a sinking boat in the background hints at a society in crisis.

Hung Liu
American (born China), 1948
Color aquatint, soft-ground etching, drypoint, scrapping, and spit-bite with gold leaf on paper
Image: 36 x 26 in. (91.4 x 66.0 cm); sheet: 47 x 36 in. (119.4 x 91.4 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Purchased with funds from the Thomas T. Solley Endowment Fund for the Curator of Asian Art, 2013.53

Large image not available.