MacArthur Fellows Program

Xu Bing

Printmaker and Calligrapher | Class of 1999

Printmaker and Calligrapher
New York, New York
44 at time of award
Published July 1, 1999

About Xu Bing's Work

Xu Bing is an artist who uses ancient Chinese methods of printmaking and calligraphy to explore new dimensions for contemporary Chinese art.

Much of his work deals with the representation of language (using imprints, rubbings, and the tension between trace and erasure) and issues of meaning. Xu Bing’s installation, A Book from the Sky, consists of hundreds of pages of text using 4000 meaningless characters constructed from the elements of real Chinese characters. He carved each character on a wood block, and then printed the characters in books, on wall-sized sheets of paper, and on huge swaths of paper draped from the ceiling. His Ghosts Pounding the Walls is a large rubbing on rice paper of a portion of the Great Wall—both of its sides and walkway for about twenty feet. In his Tsan (silkworm) series, silkworms hatch from eggs spread over a text that they slowly obliterate as they spin their silk.


Xu Bing teaches calligraphy to students at various museums around the United States. He has had solo exhibitions in China, Japan, Australia, Africa, Canada, the United States, and throughout Europe.

Xu Bing received a B.A. (1981) and an M.F.A. (1987) from Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Art. He emigrated to the United States in 1990.

Last updated January 1, 2005

Select News Coverage of Xu Bing
October 30, 2017
"This Film is Made Entirely With Surveillance Footage"
Xu Bing , 1999 MacArthur Fellow
April 22, 2016
"Dragonfly Eyes"
News China Magazine
Xu Bing , 1999 MacArthur Fellow
June 20, 2015
"Things Are Not What They First Appear: Xu Bing at SCAD"
Blouin Artinfo
Xu Bing , 1999 MacArthur Fellow
April 24, 2015
"Chinese Artist Xu Bing Explores Thorny Issues in SCAD Exhibition"
Global Atlanta
Xu Bing , 1999 MacArthur Fellow
March 18, 2015
"Xu Bing Plays With Language at the Frost Art Museum"
Miami New Times
Xu Bing , 1999 MacArthur Fellow
March 1, 2015
"Chinese Artist Xu Bing's Book Without Borders"
Xu Bing , 1999 MacArthur Fellow
February 17, 2015
"4 Questions: Xu Bing"
Xu Bing , 1999 MacArthur Fellow
February 11, 2015
"Between Heaven and Earth, Artist Challenges Written Word"
China Daily USA
Xu Bing , 1999 MacArthur Fellow
View all news
More Fellows

View All 1999 Fellows

Stay Informed
Sign up for periodic news updates and event invitations.
Connect with us on social media or view all of our social media content in one place.

The privacy of your data is important to us. We've updated our privacy policies in response to General Data Protection Regulation.