Skip to content Hung Liu (1948–2021)

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Hung Liu, the pathbreaking Chinese-born American painter who foregrounded the working class, immigrants, and women in haunting, incandescent portraits that mingle Chinese and Western traditions, died August 7 at the age of seventy-three.

One of the first Chinese artists to establish a career in the United States, Liu explored the delicate relationship between memory and history in paintings focusing on communities misrepresented or marginalized in official narratives.

While living there, Liu secretly photographed the farmers and villagers she encountered, along with their families, though this was forbidden by the Maoist regime.

Liu continued to blend Western and Chinese styles in work that pushed against the portrayals of Chinese immigrants, especially women, typical in either culture.

A retrospective of her work titled “Portraits of Promised Lands” is to open later this year at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.

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