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Guggenheim advances contemporary Chinese art initiative with appointment of curators
Hou Hanru, Consulting Curator, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative. Photo: Courtesy Hou Hanru.

NEW YORK, NY.- The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation strengthened its longstanding commitment to the study and support of contemporary Chinese artists with the appointment of Hou Hanru as Consulting Curator, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative, and Xiaoyu Weng as The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Associate Curator of Chinese Art. Led by Alexandra Munroe, the Guggenheim’s Samsung Senior Curator of Asian Art and newly named Senior Advisor, Global Arts, they will work as a team to develop the next two exhibitions scheduled as part of The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative, which was launched in 2013. The next exhibition, a thematic group show of newly commissioned works, will open at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in November 2016.

“We are delighted to welcome Hou Hanru and Xiaoyu Weng, who will move this initiative into its next phase,” said Richard Armstrong, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and Museum. “Their contributions will broaden our curatorial purview as the Guggenheim, through its global arts initiatives, continues to engage with and present the creative achievements and fresh perspectives of artists working around the world. Distinguished by direct commissions of new work, this program relies on a highly collaborative method between the curators and artists. We are fortunate to have such a seasoned global arts curator as Hou Hanru to advance the initiative with Xiaoyu Weng. We are grateful to The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation for their inspired dedication to expanding international awareness of contemporary Chinese art and culture.”

Conceived to enhance and extend the work of the Guggenheim’s Asian Art Initiative, founded in 2006 and the first of its kind at a contemporary art museum in the West, this program has allowed the museum to contribute to both Chinese and international scholarship while further developing the Guggenheim’s related global arts initiatives. The first exhibition, Wang Jianwei: Time Temple, opened at the Guggenheim in October 2014 and featured a sculptural installation, paintings, a film, and a performance by Wang Jianwei, one of China’s leading conceptual artists.

The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative enables the Guggenheim to commission major works from individual artists or groups of artists born in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, or Macao and presents them in exhibitions at the Guggenheim in New York. An expansive offering of publications, lecture series, education programs, and public interactions with the artists is developed for each exhibition. The commissioned works will enter the Guggenheim’s permanent collection as The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Collection.

“We are thrilled that Hou Hanru will join the Guggenheim as a consulting curator to guide our intellectual approach to contemporary Chinese art in an international context. Xiaoyu Weng’s scholarship and bold curatorial insight will help realize the potential of this significant exhibition and collections-building project, and will further, in exciting ways, the Guggenheim’s engagement in and thinking about the region,” stated Alexandra Munroe. “This program, together with our Asian Art Initiative and Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Arts Initiative, is encouraging innovative practices that promote the study and awareness of contemporary global arts and new models for transnational art history.”

A prolific writer and curator based in Rome, Paris, and San Francisco, Hou Hanru is the Artistic Director of MAXXI, National Museum of the 21st Century Arts, Rome. Educated at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing in the 1980s, Hou moved to France in 1990, and after a period as an independent curator and critic, he became Director of Exhibitions and Public Programs and Chair of Exhibition and Museum Studies at the San Francisco Art Institute (2006–12). Over the past two decades, he has curated and cocurated more than one hundred exhibitions at institutions and events around the world, including biennials and triennials in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Gwangju, Istanbul, Venice, Lyon, Auckland and Johannesburg. Hou consults for numerous cultural institutions, frequently contributes to journals on contemporary art and culture, and lectures at many international institutions. He is the author of such publications as Curatorial Challenges: Correspondences between Hou Hanru and Hans-Ulrich Obrist (2013), On the Mid-Ground (2012), and Paradigm Shifts (2011). He is also a founding member of the Guggenheim’s Asian Art Council, a curatorial think tank.

Xiaoyu Weng served as the founding director of the Kadist Art Foundation’s Asia Programs, Paris and San Francisco. There, she launched the Kadist Curatorial Collaboration, which organizes exhibitions that stimulate cultural exchange, and she also oversaw artist residencies and the building of the contemporary Asian art collection. Previously, she worked as Program Director of the Asian Contemporary Art Consortium in San Francisco and as a curator at the Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts at the California College of the Arts (CCA). Educated at the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in Beijing and the CCA in San Francisco, she has organized exhibitions and public programs for venues including the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco; CAFA Art Museum, Beijing; Guangdong Times Museum, Guangzhou; Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai; University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive; Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam; and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco. She is a contributing editor of Leap, a bilingual magazine dedicated to contemporary Chinese art. Her essay “Working with Archive” won the Artforum Critical Writing Award in 2011. Her writing also appears in prominent art periodicals, books, and exhibition catalogues, including those published for the 5th Auckland Triennial, 2012 Gwangju Biennial, and 7th Shenzhen Sculpture Biennial. As The Robert H. N. Ho Associate Curator of Chinese Art charged with implementing the project, Weng will be based at the Guggenheim Museum, New York.

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