May 6 Henry Smith

Friday, May 6, 4:30 to 6:30pm, CWAC156

Making Meiji Red: Materiality vs Meaning in the Changing Colors of 19th-century Ukiyo-e

Henry Smith
Professor Emeritus of Japanese History, EALC, Columbia University

Two decades ago, I postulated a “Blue Revolution” in ukiyo-e woodblock prints that began in 1829 with a sudden increase in the use of imported Prussian blue, a versatile pigment that quickly dominated landscape prints in particular. I further argued that this bright new blue came to express a new awareness of the world across blue oceans under blue skies into which the Japanese were increasingly drawn. I hypothesized finally that a similar process would be repeated four decades later in the 1860s with the import of a new generation of imported colorants, but now the principal hues were purple and red. With the Meiji Restoration of 1868, I proposed, “Red became the modal color of another era with other priorities: where late-Edo blue was the color of expanding space, Meiji red was to become the color of accelerated time.” This talk is a report on an ongoing research project in which I have been engaged for two years in cooperation with the Department of Scientific Research at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, to identify these new colorants and trace their history. The results force a thorough reconception of the materiality of Meiji ukiyo-e colorants and their artistic possibilities, and in turn a new look at the diverse and changing meanings embodied in “Meiji Red.”

Friday, May 6, 4:30 to 6:30pm, CWAC156
Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact xizh@uchicago.edu

April 29 Douglas Gabriel

Friday, April 29, 4:30 to 6:30pm, CWAC156

Revolution from 360 Ft. Below: On the Pyongyang Metro and the Problem of Ground

Douglas Gabriel
Ph.D. Student, Northwestern University

Among the deepest subway systems in the world, the Pyongyang Metro is marked by a radical disjunction with the space of the North Korean capital above it. Rather than referencing street names or landmarks above ground, each of the 17 stations on the Metro’s two lines is named after and elaborately designed according to a revolutionary theme, ranging from Camaraderie to Prosperity. Further, the Metro stations contain no maps of Pyongyang, and, in turn, city maps do not indicate the locations of the Metro stations. Frequently, the Pyongyang Metro is characterized as, on the one hand, a conspicuous form of propagandistic brainwashing, and, on the other hand, the result of a militaristic effort to conceal the locations of underground sites that could potentially serve as emergency bomb shelters. In contrast, this paper draws on visual evidence as well as previously unutilized primary sources in order to demonstrate that the bifurcation of the Metro and the city space stems from a highly singular understanding of the relationship between material reality and revolutionary ideas. I argue that the architectural design, lighting, sound, and mosaic murals of the Metro stations form a complex system of aesthetic effects aimed at suspending the North Korean revolutionary project within a dialectic of ground and transcendence.

Friday, April 29, 4:30 to 6:30pm, CWAC156
Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact xizh@uchicago.edu

April 15 Kristina Kleutghen

Friday, April 15, 4 to 6pm, CWAC156

Optical Devices, Art, and Visuality in China

Kristina Kleutghen
Assistant Professor, Art History, Washington University in St. Louis

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When European optical devices were first introduced into early modern East Asia, these devices affected not only viewing experiences and ideas about vision, but also the production of art. In contrast to the well-established effects on Japanese art, the Chinese case has barely been explored, not the least reason being that the science of optics did not develop significantly there prior to the mid-nineteenth century. Yet from the seventeenth century onward, Qing domestic production and use of optical devices resulted in significant relationships with art at the imperial, elite, and popular levels. The devices and the viewing experiences that they mediated created varying levels of foreign intervention into Chinese art, vision, and visuality. However, the consistent but diverse methods of Sinification of all these elements and the reliance on domestic products rather than imports offers new insights into how Qing art engaged the West without being limited to either the court or the capital. Through an art-historical case study of several different optical devices and their related works of art that are all linked through one particular type of magnifying lens, this talk examines how the production and consumption of these new objects and images varied with place, format, audience, and social status. 

Friday, April 15, 4:00 to 6:00pm, CWAC156

Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact xizh@uchicago.edu

April 8 Sandy Lin

Friday, April 8, 4:30 to 6:30pm, CWAC156

The Hōōden (Phoenix Pavilion) Screens from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition: An Object Biography

Sandy Lin
Ph.D. Student, Art History, University of Chicago

In Summer 2015, a group of three screens were discovered in a storage facility of the Chicago Park District and later acquired by the Art Institute of Chicago. Photographs of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition and contemporary sources suggest that the screens were painted by Hashimoto Gahō for the Hōōden (Phoenix Pavilion), a building commissioned by the Japanese government and erected in Jackson Park for the fair. Their discovery makes an exciting addition to the four ranma (transom) panels (now on display at the Art Institute of Chicago) as the only surviving architectural elements from the Hōōden, which burned down in 1946. Nevertheless, a close examination of the screens has revealed some material discrepancies and historical incongruities. In an effort to clarify the confusion, this presentation outlines the object biography of the screens, following their footsteps through their (1) material birth in 1892, (2) career in the 1893 World’s Fair, (3) neglect after the conclusion of the fair, (4) second career from 1936 to 1942 in a Japanese teahouse that was converted from the Hōōden, and (5) provisional death in 1943, when they were removed from the teahouse and sheltered in storage. Throughout the different stages in their life, the screens developed numerous relationships with various communities of people and objects, accumulating a biography that exemplifies their anachronic ability to embody multiple temporalities.

Friday, April 8, 4:30 to 6:30pm, CWAC156
Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact xizh@uchicago.edu

Spring Schedule 2016

Visual and Material Perspectives on East Asia is proud to present our schedule for Spring 2016.
All sessions unless otherwise noted will take place in the Cochrane-Woods Art Center (CWAC)

Fridays, 4:30-6:30
pm
Room 156

Paper Flower by Tiffanie Turner

April 1 Dongshan Zhang
Ph.D. Student, Art History, University of Chicago
Making Images of Dharma

April 8 Sandy Lin
Ph.D. Student, Art History, University of Chicago
The Hōōden (Phoenix Pavilion) Screens from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition: An Object Biography

April 15 Kristina Kleutghen
Assistant Professor, Art History, Washington University in St. Louis
Optical Devices, Art, and Visuality in China
(This event is sponsored by CEAS Committee on Chinese Studies)

April 29 Douglas Gabriel
PhD candidate, Northwestern University
Revolution from 360 Ft. Below: On the Pyongyang Metro and the Problem of Ground
(Co-coordinated with RAVE Workshop)

May 6 Henry Smith
Professor Emeritus of Japanese History, EALC, Columbia University
TBD

May 20 Penglinag Lu
Curatorial Fellow, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Two-Thousand-Year Journey of the Goosefoot Lamp (Yanzudeng): Exoticism, Antiquarianism and Visual Redesign

May 27 Naixi Feng
Ph.D. Student, East Asian Studies, University of Chicago
Stone Drum en route: A Study on the Late Ming Urban Literature of Beijing

January 15 Federico Marcon

Friday, January 15, 4:30 to 6:30pm, CWAC156

Money Talks: Monetary Disputes in Early Eighteenth-Century Japan

Federico Marcon 

Professor of Japanese History at Princeton University

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AT THE TURN OF THE eighteenth century, as the lavish splendor of the Genroku era waned into a decade of economic stagnation and social unrest, two scholars debated on the nature of money and its proper administration. The dispute revealed not only the extent of the monetary integration of Japanese society only after a century of Tokugawa rule, but also the sophistication of samurai’s understanding of financial dynamics. The story of the clash of the two views of what money is, the bullionism of Arai Hakuseki and the contractualism of Ogiwara Shigehide and Ogyū Sorai, bespeaks a turning point in the economic politics of early modern Japan—a turning point of transnational relevance, as in contemporaneous England economic thinkers were debating analogous issues. 

Friday, January 15, 4:30 to 6:30pm, CWAC156

Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact Ben at benjamin2@uchicago.edu or Xi at xizh@uchicago.edu

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
Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact xizh@uchicago.edu

 

March 25th (Wednesday) Mia Liu

March 25th (Wednesday) Mia Liu, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

Asian Studies, Bates College

Peepshow and Fortunetelling: The Peach Girl (1931) and its Contesting Visual Fields

琳姑看西洋镜

In 1931, a film titled The Peach Girl (dir. Bu Wancang) was a box office sensation in Shanghai and beyond. A love story between a rich boy from the city and a poor girl from the country turns tragic, However, while the story is rather trite, the film offers a fascinating study of vision and opticality: it includes sequences of voyeur, peepshow, photography view-finding, and fortune-telling (gazing into future). This paper attempts to argue that through such a curating of both pre-modern and modern modes of seeing, the film asserts itself (cinema) as a visual device capable of synthesis and reconciliation. While peepshows and photography can afford special (in)sight into the present, the traditional gaze and gimmicks can help peer into the past and the future. But in the film, such temporal designation is negated and dissolved. This is cinema at its most smug, believing itself poised to break the barriers of temporality of vision. And if temporal differences are dissolved, so might be the barriers between genders, social structure, popular and avant-garde art, or even tradition and modernity.

 

Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact tingtingxu@uchicago.edu


 

March 20th Zhiyang Yang

March 20th Zhiyang Yang, Ph.D. Student

The Department of Art History, University of Chicago

Mapping the Worldview: World Architecture in the Early 1980s

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Launched in 1980 by Tsinghua University , World Architecture 世界建筑 is the earliest architectural journal devoted to bringing global currents to its domestic readers in China. It thrived into as a major force in introducing famous foreign architects and designs, presenting architectural histories, theories, ongoing debates and discourses, and most importantly, reflecting upon China’s own practice and its nascent architectural culture. During the years when actual designs and built structures by overseas companies and individuals were greatly limited in terms of both variety and impact, the journal became a crucial way linking the two worlds and forming the first-hand experience for those who were interested. It has in turned formed a specific public that later rose to power and refashioned the country’s urbanscape. The study tries to not only historicize the architectural trends in the journal and treat it as an active player in internalizing a global view into the existing Chinese historiography, but also approach it as a specific means of knowledge production and communication by studying both the visual design and textural configuration. In so doing, the study hopes to shed new light on the “cultural fever” in the 1980s in China and understand how Chinese elites capitalized their resources to further voice their desires, concerns and insecurities in an ever-globalizing context.

Persons with concerns regarding accessibility should please contact tingtingxu@uchicago.edu

Friday Nov 14 Stephanie Su

Stephanie Su

Ph.D. Candidate, University of Chicago, Department of Art History

The 1933 Chinese Art Exhibition in Paris: Constructing New Canons for European Audience

Exhibition entrance

Abstract:

This paper explores the formation of canons in art historical writing and exhibition through the lens of the Sino-Japanese relationship in the early twentieth century. Opened in June 1933, the Exposition de la Peinture Chinoise was the first large-scale exhibition on Chinese art in Paris, surveying its development from the Han dynasty to the early 1930s. It created a sensation in the Parisian art world, attracted unprecedented numbers of viewers and was widely covered by both French and Chinese media. Its significance, however, extended beyond its popularity. Motivated by the success of earlier Japanese art exhibitions in Paris, Xu Beihong (1895-1953), the curator of the Chinese exhibition, collaborated with French art museums, private collectors and Chinese artists to organize an exhibition that aimed to not only reclaim the cultural supremacy of China but also reconstruct new canons for European audience.  This paper examines Xu’s curatorial, rhetorical and visual strategies to engage overseas audience and historicize his own works within that narrative of Chinese art.  _________________________________________________

Stephanie Su is a Ph.D. candidate in the art history department. Her research interests include 20th century Chinese and Japanese art, Sino-Japanese relationship, the cultural exchange between Europe and East Asia, historiography, history of collecting and display, etc. She’s currently writing her dissertation on the visual representation of the past in the early twentieth century Japanese and Chinese painting.

Friday, Nov 14th, 4:30-6:30pm, CWAC 156
Persons with disability who may need assistance, please contact Tingting Xu tingtingxu@uchicago.edu.