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From gunpowder to human hair, and silk to cigarettes, the materiality of contemporary art from China will be on display in two iconic Chicago neighborhoods this winter. Organized by the Smart Museum of Art in Hyde Park along with Wrightwood 659 in Lincoln Park, The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China (February 7–May 3, 2020) features 45 two- and three-dimensional works made from a range of unique and humble materials, like melted plastic, paper-thin porcelain, desiccated Coca-Cola ash, and 300,000 iron nails. The works, many monumental in scale, explore how conscious material choice has become a symbol of expression for a number of leading Chinese contemporary artists working over the last four decades. The artist roster includes Ai Weiwei, Cai Guo-Qiang, Xu Bing, Yin Xiuzhen, Song Dong, gu wenda, and Lin Tianmiao.
The exhibition’s opening week is highlighted by a symposium featuring presentations on materiality from scholars and artists, February 6–8, 2020 at the University of Chicago, and a free public celebration from 3:00-7:00pm on Saturday, February 8, 2020, happening simultaneously at the Smart Museum (5550 S. Greenwood Avenue in Hyde Park) and Wrightwood 659 (659 W. Wrightwood Avenue in Lincoln Park). All events at Wrightwood 659 are by ticketed reservation only. More information on the symposium and other opening festivities can be found at theallureofmatter.org.