Artist group
The ‘Stars’ were the earliest Chinese artistic group that broke through the unified state-politics-centred format of ‘Revolutionary Realism’ to pursue a free, modern and politically truthful artistic spirit. On 27 September 1979 on the eastern side of the China Art Gallery (Zhongguo meishuguan) in Beijing, the Stars organized the first street exhibition, which was closed by the police few hours later. After a march of protest, the exhibition was hosted between 23 November and 2 December at the Huafang Studio in Beihai Park with a total public attendance estimated at 200,000 people. A second exhibition took place a year later between 24 August and 7 September at the China Art Gallery. The name ‘Stars’ was explained by artist Ma Desheng: ‘Every artist is a star… We called our group “The Stars” in order to emphasize our individuality. This was directed at the drab uniformity of the Cultural Revolution.’ Stylistically they sponsored a kind of incessant creativity typical of the work of Pablo Picasso, while promoting at the level of content a humanistic spirit such as that expressed by the work of the German artist Kaethe Kollwitz. In particular their work explored the spiritual hardships caused by the period of the Cultural Revolution. This created a heated reaction both at a social level and within artistic circles.
Representative artists of the group include, among others, Wang Keping, Ma Desheng, Mao Lizi, Huang Rui, Li Shuang, Yang Yiping and Bo Yun.
Hui Ching-shuen, Janny (ed.) (1989). The Stars: 10 Years (exhibition catalogue). Hong Kong: Hanart T Z Gallery.
Li, Xianting (1980). ‘Guangyu “Xingxing” meizhan’ [On the ‘Stars’ Exhibition], Meishu (8–9 March).
Lü, Peng and Yi, Dan (1992). ‘“Xingxing” shijian yu lishi’ [The ‘Stars’ Incident and History]. In Zhongguo xiandai yishu shi [A History of Modern Art in China], Changsha: Hunan meishu chubanshe, 69–83.
van Dijk, Hans (1994). The Fine Arts after the Cultural Revolution: Stylistic Development and Theoretical Debate’. In Jochen Noth, Wolfger Pöhlmann and Kai Reschke (eds), China Avant-Garde: Counter-Currents in Art and Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 14–39.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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