Yoon-Jee Choi, April 17

Yoon-Jee Choi, PhD student, Department of Art History

          “Time Shall Not Mend: Establishing the Lineage of Tsugi 継ぎ[Japanese Ceramic Repair]”

Respondent: Sizhao Yi, PhD student, Department of Art History

Friday, April 17, 2020

4:30-6:30 pm, Zoom meeting (please find the registration link below)

Abstract: While plenty of instructions and discussions have been created on tsugi 継ぎ [Japanese repairing pottery with lacquer often mixed with metal substance​], a pivotal trend appears among them: most of them are grounded in the arcane Orientalism of Zen Buddhism, Japanese tea ceremony culture, and wabi-sabi. The previous discourses strongly restrict the spectrum of research on the technique in two ways and, concerning this problem, this presentation aims to open a new path for an extensive research on tsugi by directly engaging these issues. First, the act of tsugi has long been overshadowed by the excessive emphasis on kin 金 [gold] of kintsugi. There are various types of breakage or flaws on ceramic wares not surprising considering their fragile nature. However, not all blemishes or all ceramic wares became the object of tsugi and, even when the technique was applied, various mediums were adopted for mixing with the lacquer adhesive, including silver powder, red lacquer, and black lacquer. Thus, I will concentrate on the act of tsugi rather than kin to discuss why particular ceramic pieces and flaws were chosen to be restored with diverse mediums, and to study how this trend has transformed throughout the history. The other issue relates to tsugi’s secular aspect; past researchers have disregarded the tastes of tea masters, closely intertwined with shogunal governments, under the shadow of Zen Buddhism. The predilection of the major Japanese premodern tea masters, Sen no Rikyū千利休 (1522-1591) and his disciple, Furuta Oribe 古田織部 (1543-1615), for “aleatory aesthetics” and furthered the technique to a distinct style. This talk will research on the rise and development of tsugi within the Japanese shogunal culture from the 16th century to the Edo Period 江戸時代 (1603-1868). Overall, I concentrate on building the “tsugi lineage” anchored in tea masters and their meticulous selection of vessels, cracks, and the specific techniques from the 16th to 19th century.










Teabowl, named shumi (Mountain Sumeru), and Jūmonji (Cross), Joseon Dyansty (1392-1910), Mitsui Bunko Foundation, Tokyo.


Zoom Registration Link: https://uchicago.zoom.us/meeting/register/uZMrceyrrTwrBO3K-iVfU7jYGgswu3rmyg

Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact Zhenru Zhou (zhenru@zhenruzhou.com) and Yin Wu (yinwu@uchicago.edu).


Yoon-Jee Choi is a Ph.D. student whose research revolves around material culture, craftsmanship, and inter-regional dynamics of premodern East Asian art history, particularly concentrating on Korea and Japan. She received her BA in Division of International Studies and History of Art from Ewha Womans University. She has completed her coursework for her MA in History of Art and is currently working on her thesis on Korean monkey paintings during the late Joseon Dynasty. She has interned for the National Museum of Korea and worked as a research assistant for the Asian Museum Institute in Seoul. In 2019 summer, her recent interest in maritime artifiacts led to a summer internship at National Research Institute of Maritime Cultural Heritage of Korea.

Sizhao Yi is a PhD student in East Asian art and material culture with a particular interest in objects from late imperial China. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong in 2016, and her MA from the University of Chicago in 2017. Her master’s thesis examined two embroidered jackets excavated from an imperial tomb of the Ming Dynasty, which she encountered during her internship at the textile conservation department in the Archeology Institute, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Alice Casalini, October 30

Wed, October 30, 2019, 4:30-6pm, CWAC 156 (*please note the different time)

Alice Casalini, PhD student, Department of Art History

“A Preliminary Survey of the Swat Valley and the Taxila Region”


In this talk, the presenter will cover materials from the Buddhist sites that she has personally visited during her recent survey trip in Pakistan. The presenter will focus on the Swat valley and on the region of Taxila, highlighting similarities and differences between the monastic establishments within the two areas, in terms of architecture and layout, visual program, and materiality. The ultimate goal is to draw out diagnostic features that would allow the identification of typologies of monastic establishments. Great emphasis will be given to spatial relationships among the different locales within monastic complexes and to the bodily experience of movement within such spaces, but also to locality and positionality within the broader geographical settings of Swat and Taxila.

Alice’s photo from the summer fieldtrip, 2019

Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact Zhenru Zhou (zhenru@zhenruzhou.com) and Yin Wu (yinwu@uchicago.edu).


Alice Casalini received her BA and MA in Language and Civilisation of Asia and Mediterranean Africa from Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. During her MA, she spent a total of four terms as an exchange student at the department of Archaeology and Museology of Peking University, where she specialized in Buddhist archaeology of Xinjiang. Her MA thesis focused on the Buddhist caves of the kingdom of Kucha. Her current interests lie in early Buddhist art and architecture of Gandhāra and Northern India.

May 28th, Stanley Abe

Title: Imagining Sculpture
Abstract: In his forthcoming book, Imagining Sculpture, Stanley Abe sketches in narrative form a comparative history of sculpture in the West and China from the fourteenth to the beginning of the twentieth century. The comparison is between a fundamental category of fine art in the West and the absence of its equivalent in China. There are few references in Chinese historical texts to renowned sculptors or masterpieces of sculpture. Compared to the lofty arts of the brush—painting and calligraphy—sculpture was considered unrefined and unworthy of praise. There was no great tradition of sculpture in China: no Classical origins, no Renaissance, no neo-classicism, no modern abstraction. The word “sculpture” was not translated into Chinese until the beginning of the twentieth century. Sculpture did not exist in China until modern times.
Of course statues, carvings and figural objects were produced in China for millennia. They were understood as icons, representations, decorations and effigies, and from the nineteenth century some were valued and collected as antiquities. But if figural objects from China are not sculpture, what are they? Is there another way to understand their value? Perhaps not as sculpture but as historical documents? And how might this question help us see the category of sculpture in a different light? These will be the topics of our discussion. A reading is recommended: Stanley Abe, “Sculpture: A Comparative History,” in Comparativism in Art History, ed. Jaś Elsner (London; New York: Routledge, 2017), 94–108).

Ta Ge Chung, Peking purchase

Prof. Pan Li, May 24th

Title: Tsuguharu Fujita’s “Marvelous creamy white”


Abstract: Japanese artist Tsuguharu Fujita (藤田嗣治, 1886—1968) is a member of the “Paris School” in the early 20th century. He created a kind of oil painting that properly blended water with oil. Fujita demonstrated that both oily and water-based paints can be applied on the same painting by drawing thin lines with ink on an ivory-like creamy white background. In Fujita’s technique, the canvas was mostly covered in creamy white, which was called “marvelous creamy white” by art critics in Paris. His unique oriental painting style drew tremendous admiration from Paris. Fujita was the first Asian artist to succeed in Europe, showing to Europeans the charm of “Japanese style oil painting”. Unlike other Japanese students who simply brought the oil painting techniques they learned in Europe back to Japan, Fujita instead immersed himself in the art revolution in Europe with his own inventions. Through the Fujita phenomenon, we can see the relationship between early 20th century Japanese, Chinese, and European art, and the European attitude towards accepting foreign influence.

Tsuguharu Fujita, “Nude Lady in the Bedroom”,

oil painting on canvas, 130cm ×195cm  1922

Municipal Museum of Modern Art in Paris Collection

[Special Joint Event with RAVE] Nancy P. Lin, May 8th

Dear all,
Wednesday, May 8th at 4:30 pm in CWAC 156.
Nancy P. Lin, a PhD candidate in the Department of Art History, will present her paper “Going Outdoors: Keepers of the Waters and Experiments in Site-Based Art Practice in the 1990s.” Dr. Mechtild Widrich, assistant professor of Art History, Theory and Criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, will offer a response. There is no pre-circulated paper.
Yin Xiuzhen, Washing River, 1995, performance documentation, Chengdu. Source: Asia Art Archive.

Zhiyan Yang,May 17th

Title: “The Work Didn’t Exist Before its Publication” – Architectural Journals During the Transitional Period (1979 – 200X)

Abstract: This paper explores the history of Chinese architectural journals since 1980 as a key form of cultural production through which foreign information was channeled and local responses spawned in the architectural world. As the country saw a rapid unfolding of political liberalization and economic reform, it was uncertain how the same energy would pan out in the field of architecture and be directed towards envisioning and catalyzing a nationwide modernization. Focusing mainly on World Architecture 世界建筑and Time+Architecture 时代建筑 from 1980 to early 2000s, I argue that the development of a new, post-socialist architecture cannot be fully understood without an investigation of its relationship with the printed media first. In numerous cases, ideas were first tested out and sharpened in these journals years before they were materialized in the building form. The emergence of these new journals not only accelerated the search for architecture’s autonomy in the post-socialist China by allowing new conversations to grow without the previously prevalent Mao-ist ideology and rhetoric, but also provided a “contact zone” for Chinese intellectuals and architects to encounter, debate, digest, and at times misappropriate the changing cultural landscape shaped by the increasingly globalizing architectural community beyond China. By foregrounding issues around translation, criticism, self-censorship, and the changing operation and strategies of the media itself and reflecting on topics such as early reception of I.M.Pei, a debate between modernism and postmodern architecture, and a reconsideration of the relationship between architecture and art, I hope this paper can shed new light on the conflicting value systems and diversity of cultural responses that were at play in the transitional era.

Cover of World Architecture, 1981, vol.2, no.2. Featuring the interior of I.M.Pei’s East Building, National Gallery of Art (1978) with Alexander Calder’s Untitled (1976)

Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact Dongshan Zhang at dongshan@uchicago.edu

Best wishes,


Yan Jin, April 12th

Title: “Reflective Surface and Reflection: The Qianlong Emperor’s Mirror Table Screen”
Abstract: This paper takes one pair of table screens as a point of departure, in order to examine the many glass mirror table screens that became an essential element of the interior program of Qing imperial spaces and beyond and was especially favored by the Qianlong emperor (reigned 1736-95). Instead of using the more traditional materials such as inkstones, jade ornaments, or slabs of rock for central panels, painted glass mirrors were employed, thereby giving the screens the ability to incorporate the viewer’s image into the visual presentation. Scholars have briefly mentioned these screens as examples of “occidenterie” that demonstrate the emperor’s taste for the West. Their discussions tend to focus on how Chinese art of the early modern period integrated foreign concepts or to what extent were these concepts and techniques incorporated into the production of Qing court art; yet, the questions of how these objects were able to engage their owner / user, both physically and conceptually, is seldom explored. Following this line of inquiry, I hope to shed light on how the materiality of the screens, made possible by the cultural exchanges between China and Europe, offered the Qianlong emperor an alternative mode of seeing and contemplating the self.

Schedule for Spring 2019

Visual and Material Perspectives on East Asia is proud to present our schedule for Spring 2019


Sessions of this quarter will take place on Fridays 4:30-6:30pm (unless otherwise noted) in a variety of locations at the Cochrane-Woods Art Center(CWAC).


April 12, Yan Jin, MAPH Student

Humanities Division, University of Chicago.

“Reflective Surface and Reflection: The Qianlong Emperor’s Mirror Table Screen.”

*In CWAC 153


May 8, Nancy P. Lin, PhD candidate

Department of Art History, University of Chicago.

“Going Outdoors: Keepers of the Waters and Experiments in Site-Based Art Practice in the 1990s.”

(Joint-event with RAVE, in CWAC 156, Wednesday, 4:30pm – 6:00pm)


May 17, Zhiyan Yang, Ph. D Candidate

Department of Art History, University of Chicago.

“’The Work Didn’t Exist Before Its Publication’ – Architectural Journals During the Transitional Period (1979 – 200x).”

*In CWAC 152


May 22, [Special Session]Zhang Jianyu, Professor

Renmin University, China.

*In CWAC 152


*The talk will be delivered in Chinese


May 24, Pan Li, Professor

Visiting Scholar, Department of Art History, University of Chicago.

“Tsuguharu Fujita’s ‘Marvelous creamy white.'”


*In CWAC 152


Ma​y​ ​28​, ​Stanley Abe​, ​Associate Professor of Art and Art History​

Department of Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Duke ​University.

“Imagining Sculpture.”

*In CWAC 153

*Tuesday, 4:30pm-6pm


We look forward to your attendance and hope you will share this with all who might also be interested in joining our community. Please direct questions and inquiries to Dongshan Zhang at dongshan@uchicago.edu.



[Special Joint Event with APEA] Friday, 3/1 at 3pm: So Hye Kim

Dear all,
Please also find our following special joint event with APEA, early in the afternoon, this Friday.
So Hye Kim 
(PhD Candidate, EALC)
“Beyond the Divided Korea: Zhang Lu’s Dooman River (2009)”
Friday, March 1st, 3 – 5PM
Location: Wieboldt 301N (EALC Seminar Room)
*Please note the time and location
So Hye offers the following description: 
Zhang Lu (1962-), is one of the most emblematic diaspora filmmakers in South Korea today. In the five feature films which he released between his debut in 2004 and 2008, Zhang portrays ethnic Koreans across China, Korea and Mongolia who are pushed by inexorable forces to the peripheries of, and boundaries between nation-states. In 2009 Zhang returned to his hometown near the North Korean-Chinese border to film Dooman River, a work that depicts encounters between two distinct diasporic groups: ethnic Koreans in China, who form a cultural and linguistic enclave with certain autonomy from mainstream Chinese society, and North Korean refugees, who cross the border to survive the rampant hunger of their isolated homeland. This talk argues that Dooman River uncovers new forms of transnational practices of cinematic imagination and spectatorial experience which reach beyond the divided Korea. To be specific, this talk analyzes the ways in which the film’s text embodies border-crossing both in its narrative and cinematic form and invites spectators to experience the border-crossing by viewing the film.