Xu Bing

Square Word (New English) Calligraphy Book

Xu Bing

Square Word (New English) Calligraphy Book



Edition Size



Offset print


Artist Book

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Arizona State University (ASU)

Artists Book Seoul

Cerritos Library

Columbia University, Butler Library

Cornell University

DePaul University

Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF)

Florida Atlantic University (FAU), The Jaffe Book Arts Collection

Lafayette College

Smith College, Mortimer Rare Book Room

Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Kunstbibliothek

The British Library

The Ohio State University (OSU)

The University of Chicago Library

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB)

University of Connecticut (UCONN)

University of Michigan Museum of Art

University of Minnesota

Yale University Art Gallery (YUAG)

New English Calligraphy is a fusion of written English and written Chinese. The letters of an English word are slightly altered and arranged in a square word format so that the word takes on the ostensible form of a Chinese character, yet remains legible to the English reader. As people attempt to recognize and write these words, some of the thinking patterns that have been ingrained in them since they learned to read are challenged. It is the artists’ belief that people must have their routine thinking attacked in this way.

New English Calligraphy workshops by the artist prompt this attack (with the assistance of instructional videos and copybooks). While undergoing this process of estrangement and re-familiarization with one’s written language, the audience is reminded that the sensation of distance between other systems of language and one’s own is largely self-induced.

The simple version of the Introduction to Square Word Calligraphy Book is offset printed on regular white paper and bound in a traditional booklet format of the Red-Line Tracing Book. It is also accompanied by one copy of the Red-Line Tracing Book. This set of books provides instruction and practice space for the basic principles of New English Calligraphy, a writing system invented and designed by the artist. 

Offset print. Edition of 350, with 100 signed. 2001.