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A Twisted Frame: Gu Xiong's Barricade of Bicycles (1991), Dissident Pop and The National Gallery of Canada

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A Twisted Frame: Gu Xiong's Barricade of Bicycles (1991), Dissident Pop and The National Gallery of Canada

Leonard, Charles Patrick Thomas (2014) A Twisted Frame: Gu Xiong's Barricade of Bicycles (1991), Dissident Pop and The National Gallery of Canada. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

The acquisition of artwork by national institutions may heighten the relationship between a nation's publics and its domestic culture. However, such acquisitions are not devoid of an interpretive process in which dominant discourses guide institutionalization. This thesis examines the National Gallery of Canada's 1996 accession of Chinese-born Canadian artist Gu Xiong's Barricade of Bicycles, June 4, 1989 (1990) as situated within a complex set of values that were conferred to the work by the institution through the processes of selection, accession and exhibition. Originally presented as part of an installation, the ink and acrylic on paper contour drawing was the first work by a Chinese contemporary artist purchased for the National Gallery's permanent collection. The figurative style of the drawing typifies currents of 1980s Chinese modernism and Political Pop. This thesis argues that the acquisition of Barricade of Bicycles, June 4, 1989 privileged the object's political content because of the global awareness of China's complex socio-political and cultural conditions following the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. The thesis begins with a description and exhibition history of Barricade of Bicycles in relation to its contexts of production and the artist’s migration story. The following section considers the reception of contemporary Chinese art in Western contexts. Focusing on Political Pop and the theme of destruction in relation to Xiamen Dada, it proposes the term “Dissident Pop” to refer to these discussions. The thesis concludes with a consideration of the Gallery’s purchase in relation to these contexts as well as the politics of representation and Canada’s foreign policy at the time of the work’s acquisition.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Fine Arts > Art History
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Leonard, Charles Patrick Thomas
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Art History
Date:19 January 2014
Thesis Supervisor(s):Jim, Alice Ming Wai
ID Code:978214
Deposited By: CHARLES PATRICK LEONARD
Deposited On:26 Jun 2014 20:05
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:46
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