Professor Craig Clunas is a major figure in the field of Art History; specialising in Chinese art and culture from the Ming dynasty to the present day. His current research deals with the transnational history of Chinese art from 1911 to 1976.
In this lecture for Asia House, Professor Clunas will share his brilliant insights into individual Chinese paintings selected from his book, Chinese Painting and Its Audiences, listed as one of “The Best Art Books of 2017” by The New York Times and the London Evening Standard.
Professor Clunas will examine a remarkable range of Chinese images, from the 15th century to the 21st, to explain the changing audiences for Chinese painting and to look at the ideal types of viewer these pictures were made for. This lecture will look at some of the themes of this innovative book and at the changing audience for Chinese painting – from the scholars of the Ming period to the mass audience of present-day museum goers.
Exploring the complex relationships between works of art and those who look at them, Chinese Painting and Its Audiences sheds new light on how the concept of Chinese painting has been formed and reformed over hundreds of years.
About: Professor of the History of Art at the University of Oxford, Professor Clunas has published extensively on the art history and culture of China. Much of his work concentrates on the Ming period (1368-1644), with additional teaching and research interests in the art of 20th century and Contemporary China. He has worked as a curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and taught art history at the University of Sussex and the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
He is the author of Art in China (1997, second edition 2009) in the Oxford History of Art Series, and his other books include Superfluous Things: Material Culture and Social Status in Early Modern China (1991); Fruitful Sites: Garden Culture in Ming Dynasty China (1996); Pictures and Visuality in Early Modern China (1997); Elegant Debts: The Social Art of Wen Zhengming, 1470-1559 (2004); Empire of Great Brightness: Visual and Material Cultures of Ming China, 1368-1644 (2007), based on the 2004 Slade Lectures, and Screen of Kings: Art and Royal Power in Ming China (2013); several of these books have been translated into Chinese, Japanese and Korean.
Images: Left: Cover of Chinese Painting and Its Audiences, Right: Chen Shizeng, Viewing Picture (1917).