Born February 17, 1948 (China)
migrated to the United States 1984 (California)
passage to heaven August 7, 2021
Our hearts swell with love and sadness as we report to you that our beloved artist, friend, mentor, and inspiration, Hung Liu, has passed to the next phase of her journey. Diagnosed just last month with pancreatic cancer, she left this world in the same way she lived, with compassion for those who will miss her so profoundly, with immense courage, and with unthinkable generosity and grace. This photo of Liu was taken on July 14 at the opening of her exhibition at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. Her spirit shines through as she gestures triumphantly in front of her monumental (and slyly ironic) self portrait titled Resident Alien.
Hung Liu once remarked that for her, “every day is Memorial Day, and every day is Thanksgiving.” She was grateful for her own ability to break barriers and overcome the enormous challenges she faced as a young female artist in Maoist China, rising to the very top of the international contemporary art world. But she never forgot the people who were the casualties of those challenges. Every day, she saw herself in the distraught and dispossessed, no matter what their nationality, race, gender, or class.
At Turner Carroll, we are heartbroken to lose our beloved friend, but in the spirit of her own words, we will remember her every day, thankful for the way she transformed our gallery and personal lives with her paintings, her laughter, her wisdom, and her friendship. We hope you will do the same, and that you will celebrate one of history’s greatest humanist artists by finding your own solace in her art. These are opportunities to do so in the coming days:
August 20 5-7 pm: opening reception for her solo exhibition, Hung Liu: Sanctuary, at Turner Carroll in Santa Fe
August 21 4-6 pm: opening reception for the exhibition Hung Liu at Pie Projects that will include Liu’s monumental work Music of the Great Earth II at Pie Projects in Santa Fe. This rare opportunity will be accompanied by a discussion with Liu’s retrospective curator, Dorothy Moss, Jordan Schnitzer, and Tonya Turner Carroll.
Now-March 13, 2022: Hung Liu: Golden Gate (金門), Hung Liu’s exhibition at the de Young Museum in San Francisco
August 27-May 30, 2022: Hung Liu: Portraits of Promised Lands, her career retrospective at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.
We recommend this National Portrait Gallery podcast featuring Liu and director Kim Sajet, recorded in the last several weeks. Just this weekend, the Wall Street Journal featured Liu in this article.
Tributes are streaming in from museum curators and directors, collectors, former students, and friends.
From Dorothy Moss, curator of Hung Liu’s retrospective at the National Portrait Gallery and author of the new book Hung Liu: Portraits of Promised Lands: “It has been such an enormous privilege and honor to work with her over the years. She carries out our work to make people who have been forgotten visible by honoring them with her brush. Her messages of hope and resilience will light our way and offer comfort to so many. As you know, her deeply generous spirit comes through in the work and we will honor her spirit with our show.”
Carrie Mae Weems wrote of Liu: “Whether exploring the conditions of women and children, the brutality of the Cultural Revolution, or the collapse of American feudalism, Liu’s paintings humanize the lives of everyday people. She’s remarkable.”