Artwork Detail

Missing Parts
Chinese, b. 1948
Woodcut with photograph and Plexiglas on handmade paper
41 x 67 "
Gift of Island Press (formerly the Washington University School of Art Collaborative Print Workshop), 1993
WU 1993.21
Hung Liu’s work combines found imagery from historical Chinese photographs and art, forming a layered critique of elements of traditional Chinese culture, Communist ideology, and stereotypical Western perspectives on Chinese culture. Liu came of age in China during the Cultural Revolution (1966–76) and trained as a mural artist in the politically committed style of socialist realism before moving to the United States in 1984 to study and subsequently teach art. Missing Parts comprises a codified diagram of facial features from traditional Chinese art that echoes the strict standards set by the Chinese department of propaganda, to which Liu had to conform during her early artistic training. A photograph in the center of the composition depicts a 2000-year-old jade burial suit, a costly item commissioned by Han emperors and associated with eternal life. The work’s title, Missing Parts, references the features absent from the outlined faces at the bottom of the image but also suggests the fate of many antiquities in China, represented by the burial suit. In 1966 the Chinese Communist Party encouraged militant youths to attack emblems of traditional Chinese culture, leading to the destruction of many antiquities and the vandalization of Ming imperial tombs outside Beijing. FA18 (Common Read)