THE ARMORY ARTIST: XU ZHEN

The Armory Show launched its distinguished annual artist commission program in 2002. Through this important initiative, the fair extends its commitment to supporting contemporary art by commissioning an artist to create the visual identity of the fair through the design of the official catalogue, VIP materials, and other collateral, along with a benefit edition which this year will support the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

As the commissioned artist for The Armory Show 2014, Xu Zhen has put his mark on key aspects of the fair’s look and feel. Paintings from his “Under Heaven” series, in which a pastry chef’s icing applicator is used to apply pigment to support in temptingly delicious impasto, has graced Armory Show collateral in the months leading up to the fair and on-site. These paintings, their title both a literal translation of a Chinese word meaning “the whole world” and a joking reference to Jeff Koons’s infamous Made In Heaven series, give the sense of an ambition to “have one’s cake and eat it too.” Xu’s Action of Consciousness, a performative installation in which sculptures, many of them turning on easy juxtapositions of obvious symbols, are thrown into the air above a white cube where they can be seen for (and often understood in) mere seconds, occupies the center of the Focus: China section. His edition Currency’s Ideal, a plush toy of Rodin’s Thinker sitting atop a press spitting out dollar bills, has been commissioned to benefit the Museum of Modern Art.

About Xu Zhen

ABOUT THE EDITION:

Currency’s Ideal is a sculpture made of various fabrics, created from a composition of imagery from political cartoons. This sculpture belongs to a series of works, titled Spread, begun in 2009 by Xu Zhen and produced by MadeIn Company. The Spread series consists of collage-based works that utilize combinations of imagery from various cultures culled from the Internet (medieval images, caricature prints, classical paintings, exotic bestiaries, etc.). Just as traditional tapestries narrate epic scenes, this series features representations of historical events, portraits of political figures, and mythological and religious scenes. This miscellanea of ideologies and cultural elements highlights various aspects of our understanding of the history of humanity.

Xu Zhen, Currency’s Ideal, 2014
Artificial leather, synthetic, cotton, cellulose sponge
181/8 x 63/16 x 1911/16 inches (46 x 17 x 50 cm)
Edition of 20
$10,000

Courtesy of the artist and MadeIn Company, Shanghai. Proceeds from Xu Zhen’s Currency’s Ideal will benefit the Museum of Modern Art

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Promotional image Courtesy of Xu Zhen, The Armory Show and Our Man in Havana