Hung Liu: Portraits of Promised Lands

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A major survey of contemporary artist Hung Liu, whose layered portraits explore history and memory through the stories of marginalized figures

Hung Liu: Portraits of Promised Lands presents the stunning work of this contemporary Chinese American artist who blended painting and photography to offer new frameworks for understanding portraiture in relation to time, memory, and history. Often working from photographs, Hung Liu (1948-2021) used portraiture to elevate overlooked subjects, amplifying the stories of those who had historically been invisible or unheard. This richly illustrated book examines six decades of Liu’s painting, photography, and drawing. Author Dorothy Moss illuminates the importance of family photographs in Liu’s work; Nancy Lim examines the origins of Liu’s artistic practice; Lucy R. Lippard explores issues of identity and multiculturalism; and Elizabeth Partridge focuses on Liu’s recent series based on Dorothea Lange’s Depression-era photographs. Philip Tinari, along with artists Amy Sherald and Carrie Mae Weems, among others, conveys Liu’s impact on contemporary art. Having lived through war, political revolution, exile, and displacement, Liu painted a complex picture of an Asian Pacific American experience. Her portraits speak powerfully to those seeking a better life, in the United States and elsewhere.

Dorothy Moss is curator of painting and sculpture at the National Portrait Gallery and coordinating curator of the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative.


National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
(August 27, 2021–May 29, 2022)

ISBN: 9780300257441
Publication Date: June 29, 2021
Publishing Partner: Published in association with the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
224 pages, 9 x 11
151 color illus.

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