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Liu Shiming Art Gallery opens with “From the Beginning: Sculpture by Liu Shiming”

Liu Shiming Art Gallery (15 East 40th Street, 5th Floor) announces 

From The Beginning: Sculpture by Liu Shiming, opening March 12, 2024

Liu Shiming Art Gallery (15 East 40th Street, 5th Floor) announces From The Beginning: Sculpture by Liu Shiming, opening March 12, 2024 and remaining on view through the summer. This mini-retrospective features over 35 pieces that demonstrate Liu Shiming’s (1926-2010) stature as a leading figure in modern Chinese sculpture, and an artist whose vision resonates across cultures and countries.  

Acclaimed as a unique talent while still a student in Beijing, Liu Shiming was chosen to work on heroic public projects which helped to shape the image of the New China. In 1960, Shiming abandoned recognition and fame to pursue his own artistic vision in China’s midland. He moved first to Henan and then Hebei province, where he lived and worked among villagers and farmers, fishermen and roving performers, rural workers and river rafters. During this time, Shiming developed his nuanced visual language, incorporating elements of modernism within traditional techniques and imagery.


“Liu Shiming worked with whatever material was readily at hand, creating mostly small-scale, intimate, tactile sculptures – you feel his hands forming the work, marvel at the detail and compassion he conveys in a 9-inch-high sculpture like Performer Backstage, where we see an opera singer holding her child, a teapot and cat beside her,” explains Fran Kaufman, Curatorial Director of Liu Shiming Art Gallery. “His unerring ability to capture the spirit rather than the literal is evident throughout his work.”


Because of the fragility of the ceramic work, many of the sculptures – including those in the exhibit – have been translated into bronze, both under Shiming’s supervision during his lifetime and later, overseen by the artist’s son. These works maintain the integrity of the original, faithful in detail, honoring the wishes of the artist.


From the Beginning launches a broader effort to share the artist’s work and humanist philosophy of artmaking with a larger audience. A forthcoming monograph on Liu Shiming’s work, written by Richard Vine, former managing editor of Art in America and author of several books including New China, New Art, will be available in early 2025.  


About the gallery: Liu Shiming Art Gallery is dedicated to presenting the work of sculptor Liu Shiming through solo exhibitions of thematic bodies of work as well as presenting his work in context with other artists working in the same and related traditions. 

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