In 2012, Thousand-Armed Guanyin by the Chinese-French artist Huang Yong Ping was the first work that Red Brick Art Museum welcomed into its collection. The work is eighteen meters high, with one thousand Guanyin arms grafted onto the form of Marcel Duchamp’s work The Bottle Rack. The bodhisattva’s hands hold or support Buddhist instruments, animals, plants, daily necessities, and waste. The piece is all-encompassing; it is a reflection and examination of the diverse and complex cultural contexts of the contemporary world and a temporal and spatial coordinate for contemporary art. Thousand-Armed Guanyin is a starting point for the contemplation of a contemporary museum’s art collection, and as such, it has shaped the values of Red Brick Art Museum. We believe that, to collect is to endow, and to share is to educate.
On May 23, 2014, the Red Brick Art Museum presented ten contemporary artists in its grand opening exhibition “Tales from the Taiping Era.” Five years later, on July 18, Red Brick Art Museum will look back on its progress and exhibit its collection in “Thousand-Armed Guanyin,” featuring works by seventeen artists: Olafur Eliasson, Dan Graham, Ho Tzu Nyen, Huang Sunquan, Huang Yong Ping, Izumi Kato, Andreas Mühe, Laure Prouvost, Qiu Zhijie, Andres Serrano, Shen Yuan, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Inga Svala Thórsdóttir & Wu Shanzhuan, Wen Pulin, Xiao Lu, and Xing Danwen.