Martin Powers - Sally Michelson Davidson Professor of Chinese Arts and Culture; Director of the Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
References to past painting are common, if not required, in cultures with established traditions of canonical masterworks and an active market for art. Such references require a consciousness of historical change, but do not require an awareness of historical relativity. A single moment in cultural time may serve as the universal standard for all generations. But what if we find multiple references from distinct historical moments in a single painting? What if we find illusionistic styles being used right alongside historically earlier, “pre-illusionistic” styles in a critical environment where illusionism was ideologically charged? Such practices are incompatible with any single-standard theory of style, yet examples can be found in Chinese painting and become all but commonplace by the 17th century. This lecture will attempt to problematize the use of multiple art-historical references in Chinese painting and will query the historiographical and economic foundations of historical citation in early modern China.