Hung Liu

Born 1948, Changchun, China
Lives in Oakland, CA

Hung Liu grew up in China and came of age during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. She spent four years in the countryside as a laborer, studied painting at the Central Academy of Art and in 1984 received permission to attend the University of California-San Diego where she earned an M.F.A.

Known for paintings based on historical Chinese photographs, Hung Liu’s subjects over the years have been prostitutes, refugees, street performers, soldiers, laborers, and prisoners, among others. With these anonymous photographs she summons the ghosts of history into the present.

In Scattered Seed I and Scattered Seed II her most recent lithographs, Liu juxtaposed portraits of late 19th/early 20th century Chinese prostitutes – derived from photographs of the time – with images of dandelions rendered from close-up photographs she took at national parks and historic sites around the Western US, including Mount Rushmore, Devil’s Tower, and the Little Bighorn Battlefield. The dandelions, which look to be variously tattered by gusts of wind or left whole, are metaphors for the lives of the women, suggesting the way images, too, can be scattered to the winds of consciousness.

Hung Liu has exhibited her work widely including the exhibition Hung Liu: A Ten Year Survey 1988-1998 that traveled to six US venues in 1998-2000. A retrospective of Liu’s work, “Summoning Ghosts: The Art and Life of Hung Liu,” organized by the Oakland Museum of California and toured nationally through 2015. She has completed many public commissions and received many awards including the National Endowment for the Arts, and the International Art Critic’s Award. She is Professor Emerita at Mills College, where she taught since 1990.

Liu’s work is in the collections of the Dallas Museum of Art, TX; the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO; the National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC; the San Jose Museum of Art, CA; the City University of New York; and the University of Arizona Art Museum, Tucson among others.

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More information can be found at Hung Liu’s website,