Wu Hung Seminar Three: Art History and Visual Archaeology

Time: 2016.6.23 10:00-17:00

Organizer: OCAT Research Center

Co-organizer: University of Chicago Center in Beijing

Moderator: Guo Weiqi, Asscociate Professor at Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts

Venue: University of Chicago Center in Beijing, 20th floor, Culture Plaza, No. 59A Zhong Guan Cun Street Haidian District Beijing

Support: OCT Beiing Co.,Ltd



As an independent discipline, the traditional art history has been receiving more and more serious challenges in the past two or three decades. Historians began to recognize image as an important complement to written materials. While art historians reflected on their own methodologies, gradually expanding their subject from elite art to visual culture. The former began to put more value on the research of the latter, enhancing their ability of interpreting images. Likewise, the latter is voluntarily absorbing experience from other disciplines, making “art history” a comprehensive discipline. During such process, historians absorbed an array of advanced theories on visuality, although seldom any is elaborated. Meanwhile, a voice has increased in its significance for its call on resorting to formalism and the eyes, therefore emphasizing the contribution of art history per se.

Borrowing the term “visual archaeology” here, we emphasize an art history and its historiography that focus on visual problems in history. How was “art” presented to viewers? How did viewers use their eyes? What do “visuality” and “visible” mean?How do various visual problems relate to each other in terms of time and space? How does a specific visual problem relate to material problems within the same archaeological layer? How do art historians utilize, and what do they contribute to visual theories? We do not seek immediate answers to these questions. But in asking ourselves these questions when dealing individual cases, we might examine the meaning of art history more thoroughly, and even find the unique value of Chinese art history.

For this series of our seminar class we have invited four scholars, each specializes in their own “archaeological layer” and its visual problems. Ning Qiang, professor at Capital Normal University, is familiar with the presentation and viewership of Dunhuang Mogao Caves and Buddhist images. Li Qingquan, professor at Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, has been devoted to the research of Medieval tomb arts. Kong Lingwei, professor at China Academy of Art, focuses on using images as historical evidence and problems concerning modern exhibitions. Tang Hongfeng, professor at Beijing Normal University, has a unique perspective in contemporary visual culture, including Chinese films. We look forward to following the historians’ keen eyes, as well as their cross-disciplinary exchanges.


10-12 AM

Speaker: Ni Qiang      Capital Normal University, Beijing

Topic: Interpreting Images of the “Secret Space”: Using Guazhou Yulin Cave No.29 As An Example


Speaker: Li Qingquan Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts

Topic: Images of Tomb Occupants and Changes in Burial Practice Between Tang and Song:  An Art Historical Perspective in Media and Representation


2-4 PM

Speaker: Kong Lingwei     China Academy of Art

Topic: The Boundless Studio: On A Historical Model of Museum


Speaker: Tang Hongfeng   Beijing Normal University

Topic: Photographing “Dianshi zhai”: Remediation in Dianshizhai huabao


4-5 PM Roundtable Discuss

Wu Hung, Ning Qiang, Li Qingquan, Kong Lingwei, Tang Hongfeng, Guo Weiqi