Wall of China is one of Indiana’s few wall-mounted constructions, along with Sun and Moon (1959–60), Four (1959–62), Marine Works (1960–62), and Jeanne d’Arc (1960–62). Like his herms these works were created from discarded objects found in the streets surrounding his loft in Coenties Slip. A journal entry dated January 15, 1960, notes that Wall of China consists of his old drawing board and pieces of junk discovered around Water Street.
The construction’s title illustrates the multiple references that can be found in Indiana’s individual works, as well as his interest in literature and current events. Wall of China evokes the third line of José Garcia Villa’s poem “The Anchored Angel” (“Between, the, wall, of, China, and,”), the Taiwan Straits Crises of the 1950s, when tensions between the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China resulted in armed conflict, and the famous Chinese monument.