Incredible Photos of the Artist Who Makes Himself Invisible

Look closely at these photographs. Shut down by the Chinese government, Liu Bolin has mastered the art of disappearing

Phenom-Lui-Bolin-hero-631.jpg
Courtesy Eli Klein Fine Art, (c) Liu Bolin

Liu Bolin remembers what it feels like to truly be invisible. In 2005, the Chinese government shut down Beijing’s thriving art village, Suo Jia Cun, demolishing some 100 studios, including Liu’s. He protested the state’s treatment of artists with a photographic series, Hiding in the City. “I was a meaningless person, according to society,” Liu says. “Those years made me feel like people can exist or completely disappear.”

Liu disappears. He stands still for hours as an assistant paints him to match his surroundings. Liu hopes his works—like the one above, where he blends into propaganda art (look for his shoes under the white-jacketed soldier)—will compel people to ponder the often contentious relationship between the individual and society.

Through the Eye

Liu Bolin
(Courtesy Eli Klein Fine Art, (c) Liu Bolin)

JR Through the Eye of Liu Bolin, 2012

Hiding in New York

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(Courtesy Eli Klein Fine Art, (c) Liu Bolin)

Hiding in New York No. 7 -- Made in China, 2012

Hiding in the City

Hiding in the City No.93 - Supermarket No.2, 2010
(Courtesy Eli Klein Fine Art, (c) Liu Bolin)

Hiding in the City No.93 - Supermarket No.2, 2010

Hiding in the City

"Hiding in the City No. 91 - Great Wall," 2010
(Courtesy Eli Klein Fine Art, (c) Liu Bolin)

Hiding in the City No. 91 - Great Wall, 2010

Hiding in the City

"Hiding in the City No. 88 - Sawmill," 2010
(Courtesy Eli Klein Fine Art, (c) Liu Bolin)

Hiding in the City No. 88 - Sawmill, 2010

Hiding in the City

"Hiding in the City No. 85 - Chinese Courtyard," 2009
(Courtesy Eli Klein Fine Art, (c) Liu Bolin)

Hiding in the City No. 85 - Chinese Courtyard, 2009

Hiding in the City

"Hiding in the City No. 95 - Coal Pile," 2010
(Courtesy Eli Klein Fine Art, (c) Liu Bolin)

Hiding in the City No. 95 - Coal Pile, 2010

Hiding in the City

"Hiding in the City No. 73 - Decorated with the Locomotive," 2008
(Courtesy Eli Klein Fine Art, (c) Liu Bolin)

Hiding in the City No. 73 - Decorated with the Locomotive, 2008

Hiding in New York

"Hiding in New York No. 3 - Magazine Rack," 2011
(Courtesy Eli Klein Fine Art, (c) Liu Bolin)

Hiding in New York No. 3 - Magazine Rack, 2011

Hiding in New York

Hiding in New York No. 4 - Ground Zero, 2011
(Courtesy Eli Klein Fine Art, (c) Liu Bolin)

Hiding in New York No. 4 - Ground Zero, 2011

Jean Paul Gaultier

"Jean Paul Gaultier," 2011
(Courtesy Eli Klein Fine Art, (c) Liu Bolin)

Jean Paul Gaultier, 2011

Lagoon City of Venice

Lagoon City of Venice, 2010
(Courtesy Eli Klein Fine Art, (c) Liu Bolin)

Lagoon City of Venice, 2010

Royal Box

Royal Box at Teatro alla Scala, 2010
(Courtesy Eli Klein Fine Art, (c) Liu Bolin)

Royal Box at Teatro alla Scala, 2010

Hiding in New York

Hiding in New York No. 1 - Wall Street Bull, 2011
(Courtesy Eli Klein Fine Art, (c) Liu Bolin)

Hiding in New York No. 1 - Wall Street Bull, 2011