August 16, 2023

Liu Shiming Sculpture Exhibit at Rutgers’ Mason Gross Galleries

“NEZHA”: Works by modern Chinese sculptor Liu Shiming are on view at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University in New Brunswick through September 22. A reception is on September 6 from 5 to 8 p.m.

Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University has announced a retrospective exhibition of the renowned modern Chinese sculptor Liu Shiming, whose body of work engages the past and present, the epic, the mythological, and the everyday. The exhibition, “Liu Shiming: Life Gives Beauty Form,” features more than 80 sculptures made over Shiming’s 60-year career, including 27 works that are being exhibited for the first time in the United States. The exhibition also features 12 drawings that illuminate Shiming’s approach to close observational study of the human form and everyday life. The retrospective will run through September 22, with a public reception on September 6 from 5 to 8 p.m.

As part of the public celebration on September 6, the Department of Art and Design is hosting a panel discussion from 5:30 to 7 p.m. examining Shiming’s work and legacy. Panelists include Rutgers University faculty Tamara Sears, associate professor of art history, School of Arts and Sciences; John Yau, poet and professor of critical studies in the Department of Art and Design; and Xiaojue Wang, associate professor, Chinese Literature, School of Arts and Sciences.

Shiming (1926–2010) was one of China’s first modern sculptors, embracing a range of styles and approaches that expressed the dynamic traditions and philosophies of and through a changing country and world.

Shiming eventually decided to leave Beijing, where he had established his career, to move to the Henan countryside. During his time working there, he became deeply engaged with the lives of many of the rural farmers and villagers that he came to know, which inspired an appreciation for the experiences and forms of ordinary life and people that would become a central theme in his work throughout the remainder of his career.

Shiming later returned to Beijing to work at The National Museum of China, where he created replicas of historical Chinese artworks and artifacts. During this time, Shiming developed an appreciation of classical Chinese methods of sculpture that went on to inform his practice. Shiming sought to reinvent these techniques through a uniquely modernist lens, both in subject matter and approach.

“We are especially privileged to be part of this new partnership with the Liu Shiming Art Foundation, and to play host to a significant retrospective exhibition of Liu Shiming’s groundbreaking work,” said Sears. “As a major artist and educator, Liu Shiming’s explorations of both European and Chinese sculptural languages, his engagement with both urban and rural folk traditions, and his deep sensitivity to the efforts and achievements of everyday laborers had a formative influence on the direction of artistic practice in the decades following the Chinese Revolution. We are excited by the opportunity to inspire a new generation of global artists and art historians through an immersion in his sculptural visions and an engagement with his role in capturing history.”

The works on view, many of which are seen for the first time outside of China, showcase a unique vision of sculpture at once highly specific to the cultural and artistic contexts in which they were made, while still informed by the historical traditions and practices that preceded them. Both humble and majestic, Shiming’s work continues to offer resonant and expansive forms for contemplation, connection, and identification.

For children, families, and would-be sculptors of all ages, an interactive clay room is set up inside the galleries where guests can try their own hand at sculpting in Shiming’s flexible, intuitive style.

Mason Gross Galleries are at 33 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick. The galleries’ summer hours (through September 2) are Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free and open to the public. For more information, visit