Yue Minjun

Yue Minjun, with Fang Lijun, is one of the most important Beijing-based artists of the Chinese avant garde. He is part of the key movement of the post-1989 era in Chinese avant garde art - Cynical Realism. Cynical Realism developed in the aftermath of the events of 1989 which included not only the demonstrations at Tiananmen Square but also the closure earlier that year of the China Avant Garde?exhibition at the China National Gallery in Beijing by the authorities. As the 1980s were characterised by great idealism and hope in the artistic community that they would be able to contribute to the regeneration of Chinese culture, the 1990s were characterised by a loss of idealism, a more ironical or personal viewpoint and a greater detachment from any regeneration of society or culture.

Yue Minjun works are instantly recognizable by the characteristic laughing figure, actually the artist himself, depicted in various guises in virtually all his works. The figure has more teeth than one could possibly want, like the expensive smiles of fashion models advertising the latest whitening power of a toothpaste brand. This figure also shares the exaggerated nature of these advertising images. Yue Minjun trademark smile is many things at once. It is hilarious and infectious yet cynical and mocking. It appears superficial, mindless, even ridiculous but is deeply revealing and compelling. There are instant parallels to be drawn with the Social Realist propaganda posters of earlier eras of communism. There are the bright colours, the intense enthusiasm in the expressions of the figures and the implied joy and total fulfilment if one adopts the message of the poster/painting as one own mission.

Yue Minjun was selected by Harald Szeemann for the 1999 Venice Biennale. In May 2000 Chinese Contemporary gave Yue Minjun his first solo exhibition ever.




Born in Daqing, Heilongjiang province


Graduated form Hebei Normal University, oil painting department


Designed "Redstar" watch for the Spring 1996 Collection of Swatch Artists' Collection Watches

Currently living and working in Beijing, China

Selected Solo Exhibitions


Yue Minjun and the Symbolic Smile, Queens Museum of Art, New York, USA

Looking for Art, Beijing Commune, Beijing


The Reproduction of Idols: Yue Minjun, 2004-2006, Hexiang Ning Art Museum, Shenzhen, China

Looking for Terrorists, Beijing Commune, Beijing


Post Auratic Self Portrayal of Yue Minjun, CP Foundation, Jakarta, Indonesia


Yue Minjun: Sculptures & Paintings, Schoeni Art Gallery, Hong Kong

Yue Minjun: Beijing Ironicals, PrŸss & Ochs Gallery, Berlin, Germany


Beijing Ironicals, Alexander Ochs Galleries, Berlin

Yue Minjun, Meile Gallery, Switzerland


Red Ocean, Chinese Contemporary, London


Klaus Littmann Gallery, Basel

Selected Group Exhibitions


Translocalmotion, 7th Shanghai Biennale, Shanghai, China

The revolution continues: New Chinese Art, Saatchi Gallery, London, United Kingdom

Writing on the Wall: Chinese New Realism and Avant-garde in the 80's and 90's, Groninger Museum, Groningen, Netherlands


The Year of the Golden Pig: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection, Lewis Glucksman Gallery, Cork, United Kingdom

Absolute Images II, Arario Gallery, New York, USA

RED HOT - Asian Art Today from the Chaney Family Collection, Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, USA


China now - Kunst in Zeiten des Umbruchs, Sammlung Essl - Kunsthaus, Klosterneuburg


Radar: Selections from the Collection of Vicky and Kent Logan, Denver Art Museum

Shu: Reinventing Book in Contemporary Chinese Art, China Institute Gallery, New York, USA

China Now, Sammlung Essl Privatstiftung, Klosterneuburg, Austria


Mahjong - Chinesische Gegenwartskunst, Kunstmuseum Bern, Bern

Xianfeng! Chinese avant-garde, Museum Beelden aan Zee, Scheveningen, Netherlands


Figur / Skulptur, Sammlung Essl - Kunsthaus, Klosterneuburg

Beautiful Cynicism, Arario Beijing, China

OCT Contemporary Art Terminal of He Xiangning Art Museum, China

No U-Turn: China Contemporary Art, TNUR Guando Museum of Art, Taiwan, China


Gwangju Biennal, Korea

Twenty-Four Living Artist in China, Alexander Ochs Galleries Berlin, White Space Gallery, Beijing

Stone Face BANG - Chinas first group printing exhibition, Shanghai Duolun Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai

Shanghai 5 Biennale: Techniques of the visible, Shanghai Biennale - Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai

Art & Objects, Kunstler Der Galerie, Alexander Ochs Galleries, Berlin

Contemporary Lithography Group Exhibition, L.A. Gallery Beijing, Beijing


Der Rest Der Welt, Alexander Ochs Galleries, Berlin


Conceptual Images: 2002 Chinese Contemporary Oil Painting, Shenzen Art Museum, Shenzhen

The 1st Guangzhou Triennial - A Decade of Experimental Chinese Art, Guangdong Museum of Ar, Guangzhou

Six Contemporary Chinese Artists, Reykjavik Art Museum at Kjarvalstadir, Reykjavik

Things We Believe, Alexander Ochs Galleries, Berlin

Spring Group Exhibition, Art Beatus, Vancouver, Vancouver, British Columbia


Chinese Mythology, Yidian Gallery, Shanghai

New Works, Courtyard Gallery, Beijing

C'est Moi, C'est Nous, Galerie de France, Paris

Passe - Murailles, Musee de Picardie, Amiens

Millennium Portrait of China, Bremen City Gallery, Bremen

Hot Pot, Kunstnemes Hus, Oslo

New Image: 20 Years of Chinese Contemporary Painting, touring major Chinese art museums

Take Part, Galerie Urs Meile, Lucerne

Group Exhibition, Art Beatus Gallery, Vancouver, Canada


Shanghai Art Fair 2000

Art Cologne

Futuro, Contemporary Art Centre of Macau

Our Chinese Friends, Gallery Urs Meile, Weimar/Germany

Portraits de Chine Contemporaine, Espace Culturel Francois Mitterand, Perigueux, France

The Dutch Gasunie, Groningen, Holland


Transparence-Opacite?, ACAVA, Aosta, Aix-en-Provence, La Villette, Paris, Brussels, Barcelona


d'APERTutto, 48th Venice Biennale, Venice


5000 + 10, Chinese Contemporary (London), Bilbao, Spain

The Grand Tour, Chinese Contemporary, London

It's Me!, Forbidden City-Tai Miao, Beijing


8+8-1, Selected Paintings by Fifteen Contemporary Artists, Schoeni Art Gallery, Hong Kong


CHINA! Kunstmuseum, Bonn, travelled to Vienna, Berlin, Singapore, Copenhagen and Warsaw


Elevenses - The Avant Garde, Taikoo Palace, Hong Kong

Inaugural Exhibition II, Schoeni Art Gallery, Hong Kong


Images of Women II, Schoeni Art Gallery, Hong Kong

New Trends '95, Convention and Exhibition Centre, Hong Kong

The History of Chinese Oil Painting: From Realism to Post-modernism, Galerie Theoremes, Brussels

5+5: Voices from Russia and China, Schoeni Art Gallery, Hong Kong

Visions of China: Contemporary Chinese Painting by Chinese Masters, Pacific City Club, Bangkok

The Magnificent Duo - Recent Works by Yue Minjun and Yang Shaobin, Schoeni Art Gallery, Hong Kong

The Beijing 3: A Three Man Show by Zhang Gong, Yue Minjun and Yang Shaobin, Schoeni Art Gallery, Hong Kong


8+8, Contemporary Russian and Chinese Avant Garde Exhibition, Schoeni Art Gallery, Hong Kong

New Trends '94. Convention and Exhibition Centre, Hong Kong

Faces Behind the Bamboo Curtain - Works by Yue Minjun and Yang Shaobin, Schoeni Art Gallery, Hong Kong

Art Asia '94, Convention and Exhibition Centre, Hong Kong


Yuanmingyuan Artists Exhibition, Yuanmingyuan, Beijing


Contemporary Modern Art Exhibition, Friendship Hotel, Beijing


'S' Art Exhibition, Hebei Museum, Hebei