Engaging Chinese Art

1505:
Discipline: Art History
Instructor: Maki
Credits: 3
Day: A
Start: 1050
End: 1205
Field Work: Day 1 | China
Prerequisites: Previous coursework related to the arts, culture, religion or history of Asia Download Syllabus

In this course we will study Chinese art from the Neolithic era to the modern, learning how to critically analyze and discuss the materials, styles and compositions of various Chinese arts. We will also explore the religious, social, economic and political contexts that inform and gave rise to significant artistic movements and specific works. Topics will include traditional philosophies, construction of sacred space, ritual use of objects, and regional/cross-cultural interactions.

Field Work

Country: China
Day: 1

The Shanghai Museum houses one of the world’s most impressive art collections, numbering over 120,000 works of art.  In the exhibits dedicated to early bronze ware and tomb finds, we will directly engage the earliest strata of Chinese visual culture and trace the threads of cultural development through the centuries.  The expansive sculpture galleries will enable us to examine early Buddhist art.  In the extensive painting displays we will study firsthand works from each of the major artistic moments in Chinese art history.  Further, we will survey and discuss the decorative and calligraphic arts on display. Drawing on our class discussions to date, the main objectives of this lab are to identify important stylistic characteristics of Chinese arts; distinguish arts informed by Buddhist, Daoist and Confucian concerns; differentiate basic  artistic techniques of different eras, such as brushstrokes and materials; and discern different genres of Chinese painting and discuss possible motivations for their creation.  

Students will break into smaller groups with an assignment to find a specific work of art and later give a brief presentation on it to the group as a whole. During the course of the visit, students will be expected to document and photograph (where possible) those works of art which impact them the most, or which they perceive as particularly noteworthy. After our visit, students will produce a 6-8 page paper that addresses at least four of their selected works, describing their significance (for example, a work’s artistic/stylistic contribution, material innovation, historical importance and/or religious significance).
Academic Objectives:
  1. Identify important stylistic characteristics of Chinese arts.
  2. Distinguish arts informed by Buddhist, Daoist and Confucian concerns.
  3. Differentiate basic  artistic techniques of different eras, such as brushstrokes and materials.
  4. Discern different genres of Chinese painting and discuss possible motivations for their creation.