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Shots Heard ’Round Beijing

 By Don J. Cohn

Avant-garde Chinese art debuted two months before the protests in Tiananmen Square—are the fates of the two movements intertwined?

“No U-Turn” banners displayed outside the China Art Gallery, Beijing, for the “China/Avant-Garde” exhibition in 1989. 

Courtesy Xu Bing Studio, New York.

Winters in Beijing are fiercely dry and bitterly cold. In February 1989, Beijing remained in a stage of development that required all but Politburo members and well-heeled diplomats and businessmen to wear coats, hats and gloves at all times, outdoors and in, except if one were…

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