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Book Review


  As Seen 2

  by Karen Smith World Publishing Corporation · Post Wave Publishing House,

  April 2013

  As Seen is a series of books scheduled to be published for five consecutive years. Each year,author Karen Smith writes commentary to accompany images of 50 notable exhibitions in China.Rather than comprehensive, As Seen places particular focus on achievements of young artists. The volumes are intended to become yearly references, reliable accounts of what happened in cultural fields which continue to evolve. The books do not focus on the institutional or commercial developments of Chinese contemporary art; they are accounts of contemporary art throughout each year from an author who experienced it first-hand:a string of encounters with work by various artists culminating in a series of aesthetic epiphanies, revelations,and recognitions recorded in chronological order.

  Author Karen Smith is a Beijing-based British art historian focusing her major research on China’s contemporary art since the country’s introduction of reform and opening-up. She has livedin China for 20 years, and was already writing about China’s contemporary art in the early 1990s.Her most recognized earlier work was Nine Lives: The Birth of Avant-Garde Art in New China.

  “Since she [Karen Smith] arrived in Beijing in the early 1990s,she has scrupulously attended,processed, recorded, and documented the birth and maturation of an entire world. In a world where things have changed so quickly and thoroughly, Smith’s diaries are probably the most comprehensive first-hand account of the remains,”wrote Philip Tinari, director of Beijing-based Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) in the preface of the book.

  A Chinese Life

  by Li Kunwu and P.?tié Shenghuo-Dushu-Xinzhi Joint Publishing Company,

  January 2013

  A Chinese Life is an astonishing graphic novel based on real life experiences of author Li Kunwu.The three-volume book depicts an ordinary Chinese man’s life from birth to his fifties, reflecting on China’s development amidst the twists and turns of a half century.The book’s artwork is dominated by images of jostling factories,rural areas, and armies, creating a vivid and detailed depiction of one ordinary Chinese life. From the first volume, Hardships, through the second, Turning Points, and third, Prosperous Country, a full panorama of China’s social development takes shape, explaining the changes China has seen from the implementation of reform and opening-up until today.

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