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Past Tang Center Lecture Series

WangHui
Spring 2012
Empire and Artistic Practice in the Era of Manchu Rule
Tang Center Lecture Series
Monday, 16 April 2012
Tuesday, 17 April 2012
Thursday, 19 April 2012
4:30 pm, 101 McCormick Hall
Claudia Brown
Professor of Art History, Arizona State University
Lecture 1. Proceeding Down the Grand Canal: The Qing Emperors' Maps and Topographical Paintings
Monday, 16 April 2012
4:30 pm, 101 McCormick Hall
Traditional Chinese panoramic maps remained a standard administrative tool to the end of Imperial rule. However, the Kangxi Emperor (r. 1662-1722) recognized the strategic utility of Western cartography and employed Europeans to survey and map the empire. His successors, Yongzheng (r. 1723-1735) and Qianlong (r. 1736-1795), carried on the practice. During the same period, court artists studied and re-created masterworks in the topographical genre from the Song dynasty (960-1279). The legacy of these traditional paintings could be both useful and poetic, and it informed the well known series of Southern Inspection Tour scrolls commissioned first by Kangxi and later by Qianlong. In panoramas that foreshadow Google Street View, Qing painters recorded a wealth of information while maintaining a link to the classical aesthetic.
Lecture 2. The Emperor Commissions an Inventory: The State of the Field of Qing Painting Studies
Tuesday, 17 April 2012
4:30 pm, 101 McCormick Hall
In 1744 court officials began the evaluation and cataloguing of the vast palace collection of scrolls and albums, old and new. Their work set the starting point for the study of painting of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911). Meanwhile, an eager audience in Europe and North America, already keen on Chinoiserie, developed interest in “export pictures” which combined elements of the traditions of China and the West. Although modern art historians were slow to take up the study of Qing painting, the formation of the Palace Museum and the first publications of its collections in the 1930s spurred a general interest that has resurfaced in the last two decades. The challenge remains to sort out the relationship of court painting to private commissions and of scholar-amateur work to that associated with a modern, commercial art market.
Lecture 3. Scholar Zhang Peeks at Yingying: How Printed Books Inspired Painters of the Qing Dynasty
4:30 pm, 101 McCormick Hall
Publishing flourished in the late Ming period and then again shortly after the Qing conquest in 1644, despite the destruction of important publishing houses in several cities during the turmoil of the fall of Ming. The sophisticated simplicity of traditional Chinese printing techniques – with no presses needed – made small-scale publishing workable and trade in books expanded. Books were exported to Japan on ships with other cargoes. Old books were collected with enthusiasm. The Qianlong emperor’s great literary compilation, the Siku Quanshu (Complete Library of the Four Treasuries), now a scholarly resource available and searchable online, was made possible by the cooperation of private book collectors. Books were also available on a popular level and were sold from floating vessels on the Southern waterways. The popularity of printed books continued to the end of the Qing dynasty, despite the destruction of many printing houses during the Taiping Rebellion. A rapid transition to lithography began in the late 1870s. Throughout the period, painting manuals and illustrated literary works circulated widely, inspiring new trends in painting.

Fall 2008
Fall 2008
Icons, Rituals, and Paths to Salvation: Three Lectures on the History of Japanese Buddhist Sculpture
Tang Center Lecture Series
Monday, 13 October 2008
Wednesday, 15 October 2008
Thursday, 16 October 2008
4:30 pm, 101 McCormick Hall
John Rosenfield
Professor Emeritus, Harvard University
Three lectures on Japanese Buddhist sculpture raise questions about the ritual function of works of art in times of extreme social upheaval and the effects of social change on artistic patronage and practice. The first two lectures focus on statues commissioned by the monk Shunjobo Chogen (1122-1206) in a period of intense religious turmoil, while the third explores sculpture created in the 15th and 16th centuries as Japanese state patronage of Buddhism declined.
Lecture 1. Bloody Mayhem
Monday, 13 October 2008
4:30 pm, 101 McCormick Hall
Buddhist statues produced during the brutal civil wars of the late twelfth century provoke questions about the effects of carnage and disruption on Buddhist sculptors and on the function of their sculpture in rituals intended to bring solace to the victims and their families.
Lecture 2. Japan and China
Wednesday, 15 October 2008
4:30 pm, 101 McCormick Hall
An examination of the transmission of rituals and craft techniques from China, especially from the Zhejiang region, leads to an exploration of their impact on Buddhist sculptors and builders of the late twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
Lecture 3. The Very End of the Law
Thursday, 16 October 2008
4:30 pm, 101 McCormick Hall
The Buddhist creed lost its place at the fulcrum of Japanese state polity in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, prompting questions about changes in the status of Buddhist sculptors and in the ritual function of their images.

TCLS
Fall 2007
Body Talk in Two Chinese Films by Director Jiang Wen
Tang Center Lecture Series
Tuesday, 9 October 2007
Thursday, 11 October 2007
4:30 pm, 101 McCormick Hall
Jerome Silbergeld
Professor, Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University

Jiang Wen, China’s most popular male actor, has directed two of China’s most honored films. In the Heat of the Sun was the box-office champion of 1994 and swept the Golden Horse awards: best film, actor, director, screenplay, cinematography, and sound. Devils on the Doorstep won the Jury Grand Prix at Cannes in 2000. But today, Heat has become unavailable in China and elsewhere, while Jiang Wen was banned from further directing for five years after Devils, which has never been screened in China.

Treated separately because of their sharply contrasting styles, these two works demonstrate a filmmaker’s mastery of cinematic possibilities, unsurpassed in Chinese film today. Taken together as an intentional pairing by a meticulous craftsman of the narrative medium, these two films surreptitiously but powerfully undermine the twin pillars of the Communist Party’s historical claim to legitimacy in China.

Lecture 1. Body Visible
Tuesday, 9 October 2007
4:30 pm, 101 McCormick Hall
In the Heat of the Sun is the very definition of cinematic subversion. Set in Beijing during the Cultural Revolution, it is a story of children of the elite whose parents and elder siblings have been sent out to engage in Mao’s war on traditional culture, abandoning them to an ironic coming-of-age experience–as told by an inveterate liar.
Lecture 2. Naming the Beast
Thursday, 11 October 2007
4:30 pm, 101 McCormick Hall
Set in the last year of the War Against Japan, Devils on the Doorstep is as raw, passionate, and violent as it is in-your-face philosophical. Just suppose that your mortal enemy is delivered to your doorstep, tied up in a burlap bag–what do you do then?

Commemorative Paintings
Spring 2007
Commemorative Landscape Painting in China
Tang Center Lecture Series
Monday, 2 April 2007
Thursday, 5 April 2007
4:30 pm, 101 McCormick Hall
Anne Clapp
Professor Emerita, Wellesley College
Lecture 1. Conspicuous Seclusion: Commemorative Landscape Painting in China
Monday, 2 April 2007
4:30 pm, 101 McCormick Hall
Commemorative landscape painting is distinguished from the monumental painting that preceded it in the Song by the intention to celebrate a particular historical person, to make known his creditable achievements, and to win social status and recognition. This is an art of disguised portraiture in which the subject asserts himself, his ambition, and tastes, openly seeking acceptance and support from his peers. The value system of the literati social structure was so familiar to its members that the individual could address his audience through pictorial biography just as he had through literary biography for centuries. The setting for such pictures is always natural landscape, interpreted in many different moods and forms, but the landscape is secondary to the man, and its true function is to mirror him as the humanistic ideal of the recluse-scholar. The literary baggage attached to the new landscape increased during the Yuan dynasty, when the first commemorative paintings appeared, and flourished through the Ming, producing an art form that was simultaneously pictorial and verbal. This art was a direct descendant of the “social biography” of the past—eulogies, poems, prefaces—communicating personal experience to other men. It was also a direct descendent of Song and Yuan landscape styles now turned into a new world.
“What’s in a Name?”: The Biehao Painting in Chinese Landscape
Thursday, 5 April 2007
4:30 pm, 101 McCormick Hall
A sub-type of commemorative painting concerned the biehao picture, name picture, which has much to say about the subjective nature of Chinese painting in the later dynasties. Chinese men had several names for use in different circumstances—family, formal, legal, and social. The biehao was a brush name, sobriquet, the only name he chose himself, and was chosen for reasons which only he knew. It was intended to set him apart from others, to convey something about him which was private and personal but which, nevertheless, the owner desired to be known to his class at large. It might be poetic, allusive, ironic, fanciful in many ways, but it was often concretely figurative and so could be illustrated in visual form. The earliest biehao paintings appear in the Yuan dynasty and reached their peak of popularity among Suzhou art patrons in the Ming dynasty. They flourished at a time when literati circles deplored literal illustration and sniffed at realism. They escaped both by hiding the identity of the owner in the colophons attached to the painting, one of which was a preface (xu) or explanation (bian) divulging the owner’s identity and explaining how he acquired his hao. The picture was constructed around a conundrum from the start and afforded the patron and painter both ample opportunity for the play of wit, irony, double meanings, and other anomalies more often associated with the world than with the image.

Chinese Art
Winter 2004
Three Lectures on Chinese Art History
Tang Center Lecture Series
Tuesday, 10 February 2004
Thursday, 12 February 2004
Monday, 16 February 2004
Wen Fong
Professor Emeritus, Princeton University

In this special three-part lecture series, Wen C. Fong will present his current work toward a new book on Chinese art history for the general reader. In this study of Chinese painting and calligraphy, he will analyze the visual language developed by Chinese artists and offer interpretations of its distinctive language within the Chinese cultural context.

Although Chinese painting and calligraphy have often been considered as the cultural “Other” from a Western perspective, or been viewed as less valuable than written texts from a Sinological perspective, Wen Fong will demonstrate instead how the study of Chinese painting and calligraphy can provide deep insight into Chinese culture. He will discuss issues of style and expressive content from the Chinese own art-historical perspective in order to offer fresh possibilities of criticism from Western art historiography.

Lecture 1. Chinese Art as Cultural History
Tuesday, 10 February 2004
4:30 pm, 101 McCormick Hall
Lecture 2. Calligraphy and Painting as One
Thursday, 12 February 2004
4:30 pm, 101 McCormick Hall
Lecture 3. Eastern Art with a Western Face
Monday, 16 February 2004
4:30 pm, 101 McCormick Hall