The Cleveland Museum of Art

Collection Online as of May 25, 2024



(Chinese, active in France, b.1952)
calligraphy: 138.5 x 64 cm (54 1/2 x 25 3/16 in.); Overall: 201 x 71.3 cm (79 1/8 x 28 1/16 in.); Overall with knobs: 201 x 81 cm (79 1/8 x 31 7/8 in.)
Location: not on view

Did You Know?

Ma transforms the first character 古 “ancient” into a square building surmounted with what looks like a Christian cross.


Ma Desheng was the cofounder and spokesman of the Stars (Xingxing 星星), a constellation of avant-garde artists active between 1979 and 1983. He is interested in using art for personal versus collective or propagandistic purposes. Ma moved from Beijing to Paris in 1986 and was knighted in October 2021 by the French Minister of Culture for his contributions to the arts.

Ma wrote “the ancient Buddha sits and has no words” after dreaming of climbing the sacred Mount Tai and seeing the silent Buddha. His artistic and political experiences had also taught him that wordlessness represents a kind of strength and wisdom.
  • ?–2022
    Christopher Waldersee, Germany, sold to the Cleveland Museum of Art
    The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
  • {{cite web|title=Calligraphy|url=false|author=Ma Desheng|year=1987|access-date=25 May 2024|publisher=Cleveland Museum of Art}}

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