View some of the greatest photography of modern-day China and hear Xiao Quan, China’s top portrait photographer, share insights on 40 years of dramatic social change—from the thrilling experimentation of the 1980s to the commercial obsessions of today. Xiao rose to prominence in the late 1980s, capturing China’s emerging writers, directors, and artists in their early days, including such super stars as Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige, Jiang Wen, Tan Dun, and Bei Dao. His new book, In China When It All Began, offers new perspective on China’s cultural evolution and contemporary society.
Born in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, Xiao Quan is considered by many to be the best portrait photographer in China. His photographs capture the intellectual and artistic experimentation of 1980s China, when China first opened to the outside world. Xiao began recording the youthful faces of a generation of intellectuals who emerged as super stars in the ’80s, ’90s and today. Xiao’s fame stems from the large-scale photo album “Our Generation,” published in 1996, which contains many famous figures from the literature and fine art circles of the ’80s and ’90s, including Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige, Jiang Wen, He Xuntian, Tan Dun, Beidao, Wang Anyi and Shi Tiesheng. Xiao’s precise grasp of character and close contact with this generation have made his album a project with social and historical significance. With warmth and persistence, Xiao witnessed the survival of this generation, reflected its pain and joy, hesitation and persistence, and above all, projected his eternal care for life.
Born and raised in New York City, Michael Halsband discovered photography in the school darkroom at age 10. He received a B.F.A. from the School of Visual Arts in 1980 and began making portraits of artists and musicians, including his most known and iconic portrait of Andy Warhol & Jean-Michel Basquiat with boxing gloves. His early projects included six months as the tour photographer for The Rolling Stones on their 1981 “Tattoo You” tour, as well as a six-year project documenting the School of American Ballet. In 2005, Michael published “Surf Book,” a collection of his portraits of legendary surfers, and the culmination of a five-year project. He has exhibited nationally and internationally, including his most recent solo exhibitions, “Halsband Portraits,” in April 2015 at the National Arts Club, Grand Gallery in New York City, and a
larger retrospective also titled “Halsband Portraits,” at the Southampton Arts Center, NY, in November 2017. Michael published his second book, “Halsband Portraits,” as an accompaniment to the National Arts Club exhibition. He is currently continuing to make portraits in the studio he has lived and worked in since 1979.