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Sun Xun: Time Spy

February 16—October 21, 2018

Galleries 234 and 235, Main Building


About the Exhibition

Contemporary Chinese artist Sun Xun uses woodblock printing, a centuries-old technique, to reimagine and transform the 21st century medium of digital animated film. In Time Spy (2016), Sun Xun has created a three-dimensional cinematic world that roams freely across time and cultures, following an enigmatic and visually driven narrative that draws its influences from both Eastern and Western traditions of art, history, myth, and imagination.

To produce Time Spy, the artist and his team carved more than 10,000 woodblocks, then inked and digitally scanned them to create the animation cells. A selection of the woodblocks that were used to create the film will be on view in the exhibition.

Sun Xun’s work is in constant dialogue with art history, and in recognition of this, four prints from the Museum’s collection by Albrecht Dürer will be on view in the exhibition. These works were selected by Sun Xun in recognition of this German Renaissance artist’s influence on his own practice.

Time Spy, Sun Xun’s first 3D film, was commissioned by Audemars Piguet, and premiered in 2016 at Art Basel in Miami, and subsequently was adapted to be shown on multiple screens in New York City’s Times Square. Sun Xun has screened his films at film festivals across the globe, and he has had numerous solo exhibitions, including at The Guggenheim Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Minsheng Art Museum in Shanghai.

The Museum recommends entering the exhibition through Gallery 234 before viewing Time Spy in Gallery 235. The runtime is approximately 10 minutes. The exhibition is curated by Elizabeth Wyckoff, curator of prints, drawings, and photographs; Gretchen Wagner, A.W. Mellon Fellow in prints, drawings, and photographs; Hannah Klemm, assistant curator of modern and contemporary art; and Philip Hu, curator of Asian art.

Large print labels for Sun Xun: Time Spy are available on your own device or at the Taylor Hall Information Center.

The Saint Louis Art Museum’s presentation of Sun Xun: Time Spy is sponsored by

Woodcut Painting still from Time Spy
Sun Xun, Chinese, born 1980; Time Spy, 2016; woodcut painting; 14 1/2 x 17 15/16 inches; Courtesy the artist and Sean Kelly, New York © Sun Xun
Visitors wearing 3d Glasses