Link to the videos of the Sixty-Eighth A. W. Mellon lectures in the fine art delivered by Wu Hung

Wu Hung is invited to present the Sixty-Eighth A.W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts in 2019. Running from March 31st to May 12th in the National Gallery of Art, the six-part lecture series, titled End as Beginning: Chinese Art and Dynastic Time, is now available online at .

In the six-part lecture series End as Beginning: Chinese Art and Dynastic Time, Wu Hung explores the narratives of Chinese art and their relationship to artistic production while reflecting on a series of questions: How did dynastic time emerge and permeate writings on traditional Chinese art? How did it enrich and redefine itself in specific historical contexts? How did it interact with temporalities in different historical, religious, and political systems? How did narratives based on dynastic time respond to and inspire artistic creation?


In the first lecture, “The Emergence of Dynastic Time in Chinese Art,” delivered on March 31, 2019, Wu Hung begins by introducing the concept of dynastic time and its sustained role in narrating the history of Chinese art then traces this narrative mode to the fourth century BCE, when a body of texts associated visual and material forms with a succession of archaic dynasties.


In the second lecture, “Reconfiguring the World: The First Emperor’s Art Projects,” delivered on April 7, 2019, Wu Hung introduces an alternative “dynastic history” of art that emerged in the fourth century BCE, and then explores the relationship of the First Emperor’s various art projects, including the legendary Twelve Golden Men and the sculptures in his Lishan Necropolis, to this historic narrative.


In the third lecture, “Conflicting Temporalities: Heaven’s Mandate and Its Antitheses,” delivered on April 14, 2019, Wu Hung discusses the art of the Han dynasty, which evolved through complex interactions with a new political ideology and historiography rooted in the concept of the Mandate of Heaven, either by legitimating dynastic power or by challenging it with antithetical visual modes.


In the fourth lecture, “Miraculous Icons and Dynastic Time: Narrating Buddhist Images in Medieval China,” delivered on April 28, 2019, Wu Hung examines the introduction of Buddhist art during the Period of Division and the reunification of the Sui and the Tang, when “miraculous icons” became a central subject in both historical narrative and art making, and the concept of dynastic time remained, while its meaning and utility underwent constant negotiation between religious and political authorities.


In the fifth lecture, “Art of Absence: Voices of the Remnant Subject,” delivered on May 5, 2019, Wu Hung focuses on the moment after the fall of a dynasty and examines its relationship with artistic creation and the construction of art history.


In the sixth and final lecture, “End as Beginning: Dynastic Time and Revolution,” delivered on May 12, 2019, Wu Hung examines the end of China’s dynastic history in 1912 through an exploration of the concept of time at this interim moment, the transformation of a person’s body and image, and an emerging modern visual culture that exhibits its newness against the traditional modes of self-representation.

About Wu Hung

Wu Hung is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. He is director of the Center for the Art of East Asia and consulting curator of the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicagoand Executive Director of OCAT Institute. His books on both traditional and contemporary Chinese art have explored ways to integrate these conventionally separate phases into new kinds of art-historical narratives. His award-winning publications include Monumentality in Early Chinese Art and Architecture (1995), The Double Screen: Medium and Representation of Chinese Pictorial Art (1996), Remaking Beijing: Tiananmen Square and the Creation of a Political Space (2005)A Story of Ruins: Presence and Absence in Chinese Art and Visual Culture (2012), and Zooming In: Histories of Photography in China (2016). He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship (1999) and Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching at the University of Chicago (2007). The College of Art Association has recognized his contributions to the profession with its Distinguished Teaching Award (2008) and Distinguished Scholar Award (2018).