The Gao Brothers , Zhen (Chinese, b.1956) and Qiang (Chinese, b.1962), have been collaborating with each other in various projects since 1985. Based in Beijing, they produce Performance Art, photography, sculpture, paintings, and written works. The image of Mao reoccurs as an icon in many of their pieces, evolving from a childhood trauma involving their father. He was thrown into jail in 1968, during the Cultural Revolution. He died during his incarceration, when the Gao Brothers were only 12 and 6 years old.

Introduced to Chinese traditional art when they were very young, Zhen graduated from Shandong Academy of Fine Arts, and Qiang graduated from Qufu Normal University. The brothers exhibited their first piece, Midnight Mass, at the National Art Museum of China. It was an inflatable installation that represented the sexual organ of a hermaphrodite. In 1989, the Gao Brothers painted a memorial to honor the victims of the Tiananmen Square protests: an open hand with a hole in the center to represent a bloody wound, which now stands in front of Tiananmen Square.

These Contemporary artists have organized countless performances since 2000 that center around the idea of hugging. The Hug features models embracing for approximately 15 minutes, sometimes fully clothed, other times completely naked. Their other works include The Current State of Chinese Avant-Garde Art, How Far Can You Walk in One Day in Beijing, and The Report of Art Environment. Much of their work is politically charged, influenced by China's history of Communism and the suspicion surrounding their father's death.

Gao Brothers: Grandeur and Catharsis was the artists’ first museum exhibition in the United States, and is currently installed at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. The brothers' photographic works have garnered them international fame, most notably for their series Sense of Space, depicting contorted, naked bodies squeezing into boxes that are too small. The boxes are labeled Anxiety, Prayer, Pain, etc., representing tales of the Chinese "social straitjacket." Currently, the brothers can be found in the Dashanzi Art District working at the 798 Art Zone.

Timeline

1956
Gao Zhen Born in Jinan,China
1962
Gao Qiang Born in Jinan,China
The Gao Brothers are a pair of artist brothers based in Beijing, the authors of several published works, including“How Far Can You Walk in One Day in Beijing”, “The Current State Of Chinese Avant-Garde Art” and “The Report Of Art Environment”, who have been collaborating on installation, performance, photography works and writing since the mid1980s.Some of their works were published in “A History Of China Modern Art”,” China Avant-garde Photography”, “The Best Photography Of China”,etc,and collected by Chinese and foreign people and museums.

Exhibitions

2013
The Gao Brothers, Galerie Post + Garcia, Maastricht, Netherlands
2013
The Gao Brothers: The Execution of Christ, Albert Benamou Gallery, Paris, France
2012
The Utopia of 20 Minutes Embrace, Piazza Del Popolo, Rome, Italy
2012
The Gao Brothers, Vue Privée Gallery- Art Stage Singapore, Singapore
2012
Contemporary Photographers from China, FotoFest 2012 Biennial, Deborah Colton Gallery, Houston, TX
2011
The Gao Brothers: Grandeur and Catharsis, Walsh Gallery, Chicago, USA
2010
The Goa Brothers, Duncan Miller Gallery, Los Angeles, USA
2010
The Gao Brothers, Gallery Adrian David, Knokke-zoute (Kustlaan 335), Belgium
2010
The Goa Brothers: Grandeur and Catharsis, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art Kansas City, USA
2010
Portrait: Gao Brothers' Painting Exhibition, China Art Archives & Warehouse, Beijing
2008
The Utopia of Construction, Gao Brothers Center for Contemporary Art Beijing, China
2008
The Gao Brothers, Vallois Gallery, Paris, France
2008
Some Space for Humanity: Gao Brothers Photography Exhibition, Iaf Gallery, Shanghai
2008
Sense of Space, Galerie Art Mûr, Montreal, Canada
2008
China Under Construction II: China's Contemporary Art of the Everyday Comes of Age, Deborah Colton Callery, Houston, TX
2007
Another World: Gao Brothers Photography and Sculpture Exhibition, Beijing New Art Projects, Beijing, China
2007
The Utopia of 20 Minutes Embrace, Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, Germany
2007
The Gao Brothers, Limn Gallery, San Francisco, USA
2007
The Gao Brothers, Albert Benamou Gallery, Paris France
2007
China Under Construction: Contemporary Art from the People’s Republic, Deborah Colton Gallery, Houston, TX
2007
Another World, Rencontres D'Arles Photography Festival, Arles, France (solo)
2007
The High Place: Gao Brothers Photography and Sculpture Exhibition, Beijing New Art Projects, Beijing, China (solo)
2007
The Miserable Prostitutes: Gao Brothers Painting and Sculpture Exhibition, Gao Brothers Art Center, Space II , Beijing, China (solo)
2007
From China with Love: Gao Brothers Photography and Sculpture Exhibition, Walsh Gallery, Chicago, IL (solo)
2007
Dragon’s Evolution, China Square, New York, NY
2007
Breathe: Shandong Contemporary Art Exhibition, Shandong Museum, Jinan, China
2007
The Gao Brothers, Box Art Gallery, Verona, Italy (solo)
2007
The Exhibition Of Chinese Contemporary Social Art, The State Tretyakov Museum, Moscow, Russia
2006
MissMao, Black Projects, London, UK
2006
Miss Mao: Gao Brothers Sculpture and Photography Exhibition, Krampf/Pei Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
2006
One and Together: Gao Brothers Photography, Moscow House of Photography, Gallery Solyanka, Moscow, Russia (solo)
2006
The Passage of Time: Gao Brothers Photography Exhibition, La Galerie Guislain Etats d’ Art, Paris, France (solo)
2006
The Utopia of Hugging, London, Nottingham, Marseilles, France (solo)
2006
Trope of Body: Gao Brothers Photography Exhibition,Beijing New Art Projects, Beijing, China (solo)
2006
The Exhibition Of Chinese Contemporary Social Art, The State Tretyakov Museum, Moscow, Russia
2006
The Photographs of the Performance in China, Ying Art Center, Beijing, China
2006
Dragon’s Evolution, China Square, New York, NY
2006
Breathe: Shandong Contemporary Art Exhibition, Shandong Museum, Jinan, China
2006
Ten Chinese Avant-garde Photographers, Asia Art Center, Beijing, China
2006
Photography of Gao Brothers, Matteo Basile and Raimondo Galeano, Il Ponte Contemporanea, Rome, Italy
2006
Between Art and Architecture,798 Avant Gallery, New York, NY
2006
Beijing-Soldiers at the Gates, Factory 798 Dashanzi Art District, Beijing, China
2006
The First Annual Exhibition Of Chinese Contemporary Art, China Century Altar, Beijing, China
2006
My Space, Your Space, Walsh Gallery, Chicago, IL
2006
Brothers, Xin Dong Chen Space For Contemporary Art, Beijing, China
2006
Ruins,Inova Art Center,Peckschool of Art,University of Wisconsion, Milwaukee, WI
2006
Field OF VIision:Beijing, Beijing New Art Projects, Beijing, China
2006
Post Electronic Image, MUSTBE Contemporary Art Center, Beijing, China
2006
5×7 Frame Decide the Attitude Exhibition in Pingyao International photography Festival, Pingyao, China
2006
Photographing China,The circumvallation site of Ming Dynasty, Beijing, China
2006
Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from China, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA
2005
One Abandoned Building’s Visual Story—Gao Brothers Photography Exhibition, Beijing New Art Projects, Beijing, China (solo)
2005
Mahjong - Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection, Fine Arts Museum Berne, Switzerland
2005
China,Tiananmen, Foam Photography Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2005
A Utopia of the Visible: 13 Outstanding Art Photographers In China, Beijing New Art Projects, 798 Art District, Beijing, China
2005
8. International Exhibition of Sculptures and Installations, Venice Lido, Italy
2005
The Gesture. Visual Library in progress, Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki, Greece
2005
The City in 360 Degrees: French and Chinese Photographers in China, Beijing New Art Projects, 798 Art District, Beijing, China
2005
China Avant-Garde: Contemporary Chinese Art, ARENA, Santa Monica, CA
2005
Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from China, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, The David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, Chicago, IL
2005
Start To Fly: He Xiangning Art Museum OCAT Contemporary art Collection He Xiangning Art Museum, Shenzhen, China
2005
Scratch-Or China-Singapore Digital Image Art Exhibition,Beijing New Art Projects, 798 Art District, Beijing, China
2005
One Abandoned Building’s Visual Story—Gao Brothers Photography Exhibition, Beijing New Art Projects, Beijing, China (solo)
2004
Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from China, International Center of Photography and Asia Society, New York, NY
2004
Tiananmen, Chinese Eyes Gallery, Paris, France
2004
Design the marble – 40 international artists in Carrara, Carrara, Italy
2003
The 2nd International Photo Festival of Rome. L' Officina, Rome, Italy
2002
The First Triennial Of Chinese Arts, Guangzhou Art Museum, China
2002
A Dinner With The Homeless People, Performance, Jinan, China (solo)
2001
Embrace: Gao Brothers' New Works, Courtyard Gallery, Beijing China (solo)
2001
The 5th Los Angeles International Biennale, Bergamot Station Arts Center, Los Angeles, CA
2001
The First Tirana Biennale, National Gallery & Chinese Pavilion, Albania
2001
Nice International Photography Festival: Chinese Album, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nice, France
2001
Mao Y'a Pas Photo, the Espace d' Art Contemporain of La Rochelle, Paris, France
2000
China Avant-garde Artists Documents, Fukuoka Art Museum, Japan
2000
Portraits, Figures, Couples and Groups from the MCAF collection, BIZART, Shanghai, China
2000
China Avant-garde Artists Documents, Fukuoka Art Museum, Japan
2000
Fuse: Gao Brothers' Photography, Eastlink Gallery, Shanghai, China (solo)
1999
The 2nd Annual Exhibition of Contemporary Sculpture, Shenzhen, China
1999
The Documentary Exhibition of World Chinese Installation Art, Hong Kong Art Commune, Hong Kong, China
1995
The End of Mankind:Gao Brothers' Installations, Jinan Painting Institute, Jinan, China (solo)
1992
Guangzhou Biennale, Guangzhou, China
1989
China Avant-Garde, China National Art Museum, Beijing, China
1985
Shandong Modern Art Exhibition, Jinan, China