Lot 11
  • 11

Xu Yihui

50,000 - 70,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Xu Yihui
  • Little Red Books Series 2003-2006 (192 books)
  • six books are signed in Chinese and Pinyin and dated 2003.2006
  • porcelain
  • Largest: 7 5/8 by 4 1/8 by 1 3/4 in. 19.5 by 10.5 by 4.5 cm. (of varying sizes)
  • Executed in 2003-2006.

Catalogue Note

“Like Jeff Koons, Xu Yihui attempts to hold a mirror up to consumer society—-and to the new consumers of art.  But the objects produced for this purpose function only in the art context, because as real kitsch objects they would actually appear harmless in comparison to the real thing.”

Bernhard Fibicher and Matthias Frehner, Mahjong: Contemporary Chinese Art From the Sigg Collection, 2005, p. 90.

Born in Jiangsu Province in 1964, Xu Yihui studied at the Nanjing Academy of Fine Arts (1985-1989) and relocated permanently to Beijing in 1991.  A trailblazer in the development of China’s Gaudy Art movement, which evolved from the Cynical Realism and Political Pop tendencies of Chinese art in the mid-1990s, Xu Yihui has consistently drawn upon the visual iconography of the Mao Era as his primary artistic focus.  Xu Yihui was among the first artists in China to combine traditional folk methods of production and content filled with sarcastic humor.  Widely recognized for his delicate porcelain sculptures of empty “Little Red Books,” Xu’s kitschy polished objects are reflections of life in China today, highlighting the power of the superficial image in the fast-developing country versus the content of the original book. 

Little Red Books (Lot 11), executed from 2003–06 in Jingdezhen, is a collection of porcelain sculptures that vary in size and arrangement. Cast from five moulds (no longer extant), this impressive sculptural installation is an extension of an earlier work created from a different set of moulds.  The earlier sculptures are now included in the Sigg Collection and the Logan Collection.

In the artist’s own words, “The image of Mao’s ‘Little Red Book’ appears consistently in my work.  However, the ‘Little Red Book’ is often materialized through small details of my life.  Actually, the political principles practiced in today’s China can be traced back to Mao’s ‘Little Red Book.’  Mao’s philosophy changed China.”  The Chairman’s persistent legacy even in today’s China suggests the powerful ambivalence of Xu’s work in the critical context of contemporary art; like Koons’ exquisite kitschy objects, the surface appeal of Xu’s books embodies China’s epic change in recent decades.