March 1, 2019

World 3: "Research on Chinese Art History—A Western Perspective (2016)"

OCAT Institute

Anonymous, Horse with Chinese Grooms, 15th century. Color on silk, 49 × 30.4cm (horse), and 39.9×28.2cm (grooms),double-page painting from the Bahram Mirza album, assembled 1544-1545. Topkapi Palace Museum.

The OCAT Institute is pleased to announce the official release of issue III of World 3 journal: "Research on Chinese Art History—A Western Perspective."

The most recent recapitulation of the research on Chinese art history from a western perspective occurred at the turn of the 1980s and 1990s, with the history of painting as its main object of investigation. It was at the time when the Western art history academia had just undergone a major reorganization, and meanwhile W. Eugene Kleinbauer’s Research Guide to the History of Western Art was being published in installments on Meishu yicong. Hence, Kleinbauer's "Intrinsic" and "Extrinsic" perspectives of Western modern art history were applied to summarize the methodologies of the history of Chinese painting at the time. Wen Fong from Princeton University became a representative figure maintaining the "Intrinsic" perspective for his advocacy of the style-structure analysis, and those who accepted his method were named the "Eastern School"; while James Cahill of the University of California at Berkeley was seen as an expert on the "Extrinsic" perspective for promoting the social history of Chinese art, and the pupils influenced by his view were called the "Western School." In addition, Chu-Tsing Li, who taught at the University of Kansas, and his students were referred to as the "Central School," for their application of Iconography and the study of art patronage in examining the history of Chinese painting. It is these three Schools that succinctly summarized the status of the research on Chinese art history overseas at that time, which is still being frequently discussed until today.

However, at the time of the previous recapitulation, the state of the research on Chinese art history overseas has already undergone significant changes, and it is no longer possible to summarize it in two or three ways. It was a period in which the new Western art history theories placed substantial influence on the study of Chinese art history, and also an era when the scholars of Chinese art history were expanding new methods on the basis of comprehensive reflection. During this period, there occurred deconstructive studies of the anatomy of the literati life, and general history writings with an ambition to reconstruct the history of art. There was both holistic thinking emerged from anthropology and archaeology, and a variety of terms originated from post-modern philosophy and literary studies. Ideology had also become the basic characteristic of many Chinese art history studies. On the one hand, the field of Chinese art history research has gone far beyond the field of history of painting, leading to the simultaneous advancement of the research on bronze art, Buddhist art, and tomb art. On the other hand, the emergence of the concepts such as the modes of exhibition, viewing, production, consumption, as well as spatiality and materiality greatly expanded the breadth and depth of all research fields.

In the past three decades, even the name of this discipline has become increasingly difficult to define. Scholars gradually expanded the term "art history (meishu shi)" into a more inclusive "art history (yishu shi)," and replaced "art" with "image," then used "visual" instead of "image," then again "material" was used to make up for the lack of "visual"... In order to emphasize the "objective world of knowledge" so that this discipline will not be reduced to nothingness, we still use "yishu shi" or "meishu shi" in this issue, but what we discuss here is the history of Chinese art that has been repeatedly contemplated for the past three decades.

Access ToC of World 3, issue III.

Editor-in-Chief: Wu Hung, Guo Weiqi;Publisher: China Nationality Art Photograph Publishing House;Language: Chinese and English;321 (Pages);Framed: Paperback

Currently, World 3 can only be purchased in mainland China. For residents living outside of mainland China, please write an email to world3journal [​at​] for more information.

To contact the editors of World 3, please write an email to world3journal [​at​]

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