Xu Bing is born in Chongqing, China, and in 1957 moves to Beijing with his parents.

Relocates to the mountainous region of northern China to perform farm labor, sketches during his free time, and initiates amateur group art and cultural activities in the countryside.

Enters the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing (CAFA) where he studies printmaking. His works are shown widely in Europe, Asia and North America and are collected by the British Library.

Begins teaching at CAFA, and studies the instruction of sketching, which he follows with a 100,000-word treatise entitled Notes on Sketching Education

Accepted by CAFA as a graduate student in their MFA program

Earns his MFA and begins to create A Book from the Sky.

The Art of Xu Bing opens at the China National Museum of Fine Arts in Beijing, which includes the first completed section of A Book from the Sky. The show attracts widespread attention both in China and abroad, and critics begin to discuss the Xu Bing phenomenon. Later, he travels to the Paris Academy of Arts as a visiting artist.

Participates in the first China Avant-Gardeexhibition.

Begins work on Ghosts Pounding the Wall , a large-scale, outdoor ink-on-paper rubbing from the Beijing Jin Shan Ling section of the Great Wall. Accepts an invitation to become honorary fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and moves to the United States.

Three Installations by Xu Bing, his first solo exhibition in the West, is held at the Elvehjem Museum of Art.

Moves to Vermillion, a small town in South Dakota, to study papermaking and western bookbinding.

Moves to the East Village. Participates in the 45th Venice Biennale, and at the end of the year, returns to Beijing to begin experimenting with art involving live animals.

His work is shown at the Reina Sofia Museum of Art in Spain and he begins to design Square Word Calligraphy.

Begins work on the American Silkworm Series.

Completes editing and printing An Introduction to Square Word Calligraphy, which he shows as part of a calligraphy classroom.

Participates in the Johannesburg and Kwangju Bienniales. A Book From the Sky is added to the art-history textbook Art Past, Art Present.

Is named recipient of a grant from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation.

Wins the MacArthur genius grant. His works are shown at both the Ludwig and Bonn Museums of Art in Germany and at the Museum of Modern (MoMA), New York. Lives and hikes in the Himalaya region of Nepal, where he begins work on his Landscript series.

Shows at the Sydney Biennial. The National Gallery in Prague holds a major retrospective of Xu Bing’s work. Completes The Tobacco Project at Duke University, North Carolina.

Word Play: Contemporary Art by Xu Bing opens at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution. Gardner’s Art Through the Ages, long a standard text for college Art History courses, includes his work in their updated edition.

Wins the 14th Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize. Princeton University organizes a conference to discuss the role of text in Xu Bing’s art. Later, Xu Bing is named an honorary professor by his alma mater, the Central Academy of Fine Arts.

Receives the inaugural Coca-Cola Fellowship and assumes a residency at the American Academy in Berlin. In May Xu Bing in Berlin opens at the National Museum for East Asian Art. Earlier in the year, Xu Bing creates “Where Does the Dust Collect Itself?” and wins the first Wales International Visual Art Prize, Artes Mundi. “Art in America” lists Xu Bing, along with 10 other artists, in their annual Year in Review.

Makes an initial site visit to Kenya as part of his 木, 林, 森 Project.

Princeton University Press publishes Persistence-transformation: text as image in the art of Xu Bing, a volume of papers from the 2003 conference of the same name.

Named member of the Guggenheim Asian Art Council. Square Word Calligraphyand Landscript works exhibited at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Book from the Ground exhibited as interactive software at MoMA, New York. Noting that “( Xu Bing's )use of text, language and books has impacted the dialogue of the print and art worlds in significant ways,” the Southern Graphics Council honors Xu Bing with their Lifetime Achievement in Printmaking Award. Xu Bing listed among forty other artists in the ARTnews survey Famou in 2112: experts predict which artists the art world will be looking at 105 years from now. China Life Magazine wins The Society of Publishers in Asia 2007 Excellence in Magazine Design Award. The Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China names Xu Bing vice president of CAFA.

Makes second trip to Kenya for Forest Project. Creates two 28-meter long phoenixes for the new Beijing World Financial Center. On the invitation of I.M. Pei, creates hanging installation Purple Breeze from the East for the new Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C. On the invitation of the U.S. Department of State Art in Embassies Program, installs Monkeys Grasp for the Moon at the new U.S. Embassy in Beijing. Forest Project is exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and travels to the University of California Berkeley Art Museum. Book from the Ground is exhibited at Prospect.1 New Orleans, New Orleans Museum of Art, the opening of the new Museum of Arts and Design, New York and Synthetic Times: Media Art China 2008, National Art Museum of China. Picturing Equality: Xu Bing’s New Ways of Seeing opens at the Sawhill Gallery, James Madison University, Virginia. Work included in Text/Messages: Books by Artists, Medtronic Gallery, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. Lectures at the Art Institute of Boston and at universities around the world. Serves as a juror for the 3rd Artes Mundi prize. Columbia University holds a semester-long graduate seminar on the art of Xu Bing.

Begins work on the woodblock print Mustard Seed Garden Landscape Scroll. Forest Project initiated in Mainland China, including the exhibition Xu Bing: Primer for 木·林·森 Project ( Forest Project ) at He Xiangning Art Museum, Shenzhen, China. Today Art Museum, Beijing exhibits the special exhibition Xu Bing: the Path of Repetition and the Imprint. Curates the major historical retrospective Central Academy of Fine Arts 60 Years of Drawing. The exhibition garners widespread critical attention and is named Year's Best Exhibition in China by Artron. London bookseller Bernard Quaritch publishes Tianshu: Passages in the Making of a Book a study of Xu Bing's monumental Book from the Sky with essays by scholars including John Cayley.

After more than two years of work, completes the Phoenix, which is exhibited for the first time suspended outside of Today Art Museum, Beijing. The project is later exhibited at Expo 2010, Shanghai. The Background Story series is shown at the Museum of Arts and Design, New York as part of the exhibition Dead or Alive. “Xu Bing Prints is published and distributed by China's Culture and Art Publishing House. The Museum of Modern Art, New York acquires a group of Xu Bing's woodblock prints for the 1980s. Receives an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Columbia University, New York.

Phoenix-2008 was displayed at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York for a year.

Was awarded the 2014 Department of State-Medal of Arts for his efforts to promote cultural understanding through his artworks. Becomes the 2015 de FINE art honoree of the Savannah College of Art and Design. Finishes and unveils the new Phoenix 2015 in the 56th International Venice Biennale