Artist: Yue Minjun
Title: Hat Series
Medium: Oil on Canvas
Size: 31.5 x 31.5 Inches
Notes: Signed and Dated 2005. New York, The Queens Museum of Art, 2007-08 Illustrated on Page 277 of the Catalog. London, Sotherbys: Contemporary Art 13 Oct 2012 Realized: $156,163. Held Private Storage to Present
Yue Minjun, a versatile contemporary artist hailing from China, encompasses the roles of painter, sculptor, and printmaker, earning his acclaim primarily through his iconic self-portraits characterized by a perpetual, enigmatic smile. Born in Daqing, China, in 1962, he completed his education at the Fine Arts Department of Hebei University in 1985 and presently resides and creates in Beijing.
"The Hats" series, a notable creation of his oeuvre, drew inspiration from the laurel wreaths donned by victors at the Athens Olympics in 2004. In this series, Minjun utilizes hats as potent symbols, representing facets of personal identity, societal status, nationality, and ethnic heritage.
Minjun's artistic repertoire encompasses paintings, sculptures, and installations, all featuring a consistent theme of laughing pink faces, which often resemble self-portraits. These faces interact with various symbols, metaphors, signs, and depictions of everyday life, constructing diverse realities in which the laughter becomes embedded. While he is sometimes associated with the Chinese "Cynical Realist" movement, Minjun adamantly distances himself from this classification, asserting that his art occupies a unique position in history, defying categorization within any established style. Nonetheless, he consistently challenges social and cultural conventions by portraying objects and political themes in a radical, abstract, ironic, and cynical manner.
Minjun's ascent to international recognition began in 1999 when he participated in the 48th Venice Biennale. Since then, he has been a prominent figure on the global art scene, showcasing his works in numerous museum exhibitions and major events, including the Gwangju Biennale and Shanghai Biennale in 2004. His artwork graces the collections of esteemed institutions worldwide, including the CP Art Foundation in Indonesia, the Cheng Du Shang He Museum in China, the Guang Dong Art Museum in China, the Shen Zhen Art Museum in China, the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco, USA, the Museum of Architecture in Chicago, USA, the Denver Art Museum in the USA, the Francois. Mitterrand Cultural Center in France, the Busan Museum of Art in Korea, the Arario Galleries in Korea, and the Union University Art Museum in Singapore.