What defines a masterwork? This exhibition, focusing on fifteen masterpieces supported by twenty-five additional works of the highest quality, explores the roles of tradition, creativity and self-expression in the art of Chinese calligraphy. Through the centuries, a complex set of rules and traditions evolved impacting every aspect of the calligrapher’s practice. Within these constraints, creativity and self-expression have remained the goals of the Chinese calligrapher. Global artistic phenomenon Xu Bing has proposed a new multi-media piece especially for the exhibition. Out of Character also includes paintings--borrowed from the collection of SFMOMA--by modern American masters Brice Marden, Franz Kline, and Mark Tobey, whose works have been linked with calligraphy.