Hai Bo “I am Chairman Mao’s Red Guard” (detail), 2000 Color photograph (diptych) 61 x 40.6cm (24 x 16 inches).

LOS ANGELES, CA.- The J. Paul Getty Museum has just acquired a significant group of works by Chinese contemporary photographers. Nine works by acclaimed artists Wang Qingsong and Hai Bo will enter the museum’s collection, which is known for the depth and breadth of its historical holdings in European and American photography. It is the Getty’s first major acquisition in the field of contemporary Chinese photography.

“The acquisition of these works affirms an important new direction for the Getty,” says noted photography dealer and collector Daniel Wolf, who helped establish the museum’s collection in the 1980s. “It reflects an interest in expanding the collection in this category. The Getty is a global institution, and this collecting strategy will help broaden the international scope of its contemporary holdings.”

The artworks were acquired from AW Asia, a private organization in New York that promotes the field of Chinese contemporary art. “AW Asia is pleased to have been able to play a role in this acquisition,” says Larry Warsh, the organization’s founder, “and to have helped make these works part of the Getty’s outstanding photography collection. Chinese contemporary art has become an influential factor in world culture, and the Getty’s acquisition underscores the historical importance of these two artists.”

Since the early 1990s, Wang Qingsong and Hai Bo have been at the forefront of the photography movement that, over the past thirty years, has reinvigorated it as an art form in China. Before 1979, official publications and exhibitions of photography served government propagandist purposes, while the work of avant-garde artists remained underground. Today, photography is among the most vibrant areas of Chinese contemporary art, and the work of Wang Qingsong and Hai Bo represents some of the most engaging and evocative work in this field.

The J. Paul Getty Museum is the latest institution to add works by Chinese contemporary artists to its holdings. Others include New York’s Museum of Modern Art, which recently acquired 28 works for its photography collection, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and the Brooklyn Museum, as well as global institutions such as the Tate and the Pompidou Center.

AW Asia promotes the field of Chinese contemporary art through institutional loans and acquisitions, curatorial projects, educational programs, and publications. The AW Asia collection, encompassing works in a range of media, serves as the basis for traveling exhibitions, educational programs, and ongoing installations at the organization’s private space in New York’s Chelsea art district.


Wang Qingsong “Can I Cooperate with you”, 2000 Color photograph 120 x 200cm (47.2 x 78.7 inches).