Xu Bing's installation "1st Class",consists about 500,000 cigarettes which is placed in a pattern so it looks like a tiger skin.
At a first glance, Xu Bing’s installation resembles a beautiful tiger skin places flat on the floor. But a closer look will show you that it is, in fact, cigarettes placed to resemble the pattern of a tiger skin.
Xu Bing's installation 1st Class, 2011 consists about 500,000 Chinese cigarettes placed in a pattern so that the cigarettes from a distance looks like a tiger skin. The tiger is central to Chinese culture as a symbol of health and potency. In the Chinese horoscope the tiger is connected with personal qualities as luck, ambition and strength. In the artwork 1st Class the tiger's positive symbol values is in contrast with the artworks actual content the harmful cigarettes.
About the artist
Xu Bing is considered one of the most important Chinese artists of his generation. Born in 1955, he lived through a tumultuous period in China’s history. After being sent to the countryside as a teen during the Cultural Revolution, he returned to Beijing to study and then teach printmaking at the Central Academy of Fine Arts during successive waves of tightening and loosening government control over the arts. A central and controversial figure in the Chinese New Wave Movement, he moved to the United States in 1990 shortly after the Tiananmen uprising.
In 1999 Xu Bing was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in recognition of his contributions, particularly in printmaking and calligraphy. A number of awards followed, including the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize in 2003, the Wales International Visual Art Prize “Artes Mundi” in 2004, and the Southern Graphics Council Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. Xu Bing was appointed vice president of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, one of the most important positions in the Chinese art system, in 2008.