December 4 Martin Powers

Friday, December 4, 4:30-6:30pm, CWAC 152

How Did Artists Question the Authorities in Early Modern China and England?

Martin Powers
Professor, History of Art, University of Michigan

Looking at cultural practice in Europe’s late, early modern period, Pierre Bourdieu saw a development in which “intellectual and artistic life…progressively freed itself from aristocratic and ecclesiastical tutelage”. It was only after the decline of aristocracy that artists acquired the agency to use their skills to question social practice, and so in 18th century England one begins to find politically-charged prints from the 1720’s onward. A comparable development occurred in China after the decline of “aristocratic and ecclesiastical tutelage” in Song times. It was then that artists, inspired by the guwen 古文movement, began to address social themes in their work. Afterwards one can find examples of subversive art in China from Song times at least through the end of the Ming. This lecture examines the pattern of development in both cases and finds that both Chinese and English artists adopted similar tropic strategies, and in a similar order, as artists acquired more and more independence from the rich and noble.

Friday, December 4, 4:30-6:30pm, CWAC 152
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