Date of birth
Place Of birth
Gu Wenda (also known as Wenda Gu) was born in Shanghai in 1955 into a family of bankers who suffered during the Cultural Revolution – his grandfather, a famous theatre director and playwright in the 1920s and 1930s, was sent into rural exile and died alone. Gu studied at the Shanghai School of Arts and Crafts and in 1981 was awarded a Master’s degree from the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts (now the China Academy of Art) in Hangzhou, where he studied traditional Chinese painting under renowned master Lu Yanshao. By the mid-1980s Gu Wenda was a leading figure in the new avant-garde, creating deliberately unreadable calligraphy in works considered so provocative that his first solo show in Xi’an in 1986 was closed down by the authorities. In 1987 he moved to North America. He is known for large-scale installations focused on themes of language, culture and identity. Gu’s work has been widely shown in significant solo and group exhibitions across China, the USA, the Asia Pacific, and Europe, among them ‘Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China’, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2013); ‘Contemplating the Void: Interventions in the Guggenheim Museum Rotunda’, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2010); ‘Mahjong, Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection’, Kunstmuseum Bern (2005); ‘RE: Duchamp’, 49th Venice Biennale, Venice (2001) and ‘China/Avant-garde’, National Art Museum, Beijing (1989). Gu Wenda lives primarily in New York, while maintaining a studio in Shanghai.