Further Biographical Context for Cao Wu
Born in 1951, Cao Wu's creative work was largely influenced by the 1970s. The 1970s were a period of consolidation and development in the arts, most often characterised as a response to the central tensions of the previous decade. Conceptual art emerged as a key movement, a partial evolution of and response to minimalism. Land Art took the artwork into the spacious outdoors, taking creative production away from commodities and engaging with the earliest ideas of environmentalism. Process art combined elements of conceptualism with other formal reflections, creating esoteric and experimental bodies of work. Expressive figurative painting began to regain prominence for the first time since the decline of Abstract Expressionism twenty years before, especially in Germany where Gerhard Richter, Anselm Kiefer, Georg Baselitz became highly powerful figures worldwide. Many of the artists who became so famous and successful in the 1960s remained dominant figures. For example, Andy Warhol branched out into film and magazine publishing, the first kind of cross cultural activity for a visual artist. This secured his reputation as a major international celebrity in his own right. Towards the end of the 1970s, the emerging practices of graffiti and street art were beginning to gain attention in the fine art community. Artists including Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat were working in downtown Manhattan and guaranteeing that spray paint and tagging gained some validity as a fine art practice, a trend which would fully develop and dominate throughout the following decade.