Artwork Detail

Sun Yat-sen (Sign for Moon)
German, b.1937
Silkscreen on cardboard mounted on wooden grid
48 7/16 x 36 9/16 x 1 13/16 "
University purchase with funds from the David Woods Kemper Memorial Foundation, 2012
WU 2012.0005
Artist Rights Society, Inc. (ARS)
Since the 1960s Thomas Bayrle has incorporated into his work images relating to Mao Zedong and the Cultural Revolution, as well as the international impact of Chinese mass culture; in particular he has explored how ideas of the collective can challenge Western notions of individualism. In 2005 Bayrle embarked on a series of large woven cardboard constructions attached to a wooden grid, onto the surface of which he screen printed early propaganda photographs from "China im Bild" "(China Captured on Film)," a popular journal published in West Germany in the 1960s. "Sun Yat-sen" "(Sign for Moon)" is part of this series of cardboard reliefs. Albeit hazy and distorted, the image depicts the Chinese revolutionary Sun Yat-sen, the first president and founding father of the Republic of China (1912) who helped to overthrow the Qing dynasty, and who became famous for developing the “Three Principles of the People”: nationalism, democracy, and “people’s livelihood.” Printed on the intersecting structure that, like a highway system, loosely recalls a collective network as a societal form, Sun Yat-sen’s iconic portrait inspires questions about individual accomplishments, on the one hand, and, on the other, utopias of collectivism spearheaded in China during Mao’s controversial reign. [Exhibition brochure text, 2013]