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21st Century Acquisitions

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Three Fujins

1995
96 x 126 x 12 in. (243.8 x 320 x 30.5 cm)

Hung Liu
American, born in China

Object Type: Painting
Medium and Support: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Gift of Gerald and Ellen Sigal and Marion Stratton Gould Fund
Accession Number: 2015.10
Location: Currently on view
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Hung Liu is a Chinese-American artist known for her paintings based on historical photographs. After growing up in China under the Maoist regime, and later studying painting at the University of California, San Diego, Liu has spent her career exploring personal conflicts of identity. Three Fujins is a part of her "Last Dynasty" series from the 1990s, featuring subjects drawn from historic photographs documenting the Qing dynasty, the last imperial dynasty of China.

The women in this painting were fujins, or concubines in the Qing court in the late 1800s. The source photo shows them adorned in beautiful clothing and painted faces. Hung Liu’s addition of the small birdcages to the front of the canvases, one for each woman, makes reference to their captivity and powerlessness. Liu’s signature drip asserts her hand in the creation of the painting, a 20th-century modernist impulse, while also referencing Chinese traditions of landscape and calligraphy.

[Gallery label text, 2016]

Provenance
The artist; her dealer, Steinbaum Krauss Gallery, New York; purchased from them by Gerald and Ellen Sigal, Washington DC; their gift to the Gallery in 2015.

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