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The Birth of ‘Literati’ Painting in the Song and Yuan Dynasties: How to Think About What We Do and Do Not Know

October 11, 2012 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Image of a Chinese Lierati painting of a tree in a wind-swept landscape

2012 Burdick-Vary Event:

Jerome Silbergeld

P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Professor of Chinese Art History, Princeton University


Every study of later Chinese painting history tends to establish two overarching categories into which all paintings are expected to fit: literati and not literati, the latter including court, ecclesiastical, and popular works. All modern viewers are charged with comprehending how this rubric of “literati painting,” peculiar to China and tied to its civil service system, accounts for style. Yet the birth of literati painting has confused historians, for in its first few hundred years it exhibited a highly unstable visual identity that must prove baffling to anyone today expecting to see there a clear-cut differential between it and not-it. Why this confusion, and how should we deal with this uncertainty about such a fundamental historical issue?


A lecture in the series: “New Constructions of the Past in the Art History of China”


October 11, 2012
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Event Categories:


Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, Room L140
800 University Avenue
Madison, Wisconsin 53703 United States