Stanley Abe - Associate Professor, Department of Art and Art History, Duke University
Sculpture was produced in large quantities over a long period of time in China as architectural ornaments, mortuary works, or objects of religious use. But sculpture was not often considered an object of special aesthetic value.
The subject of the current research is the movement of Chinese sculpture, with special attention to Buddhist and Daoist works, from a category of non-art into one of the fine arts. In the process, a heretofore unknown kind of object and knowledge - something called “Chinese sculpture” as well as a history of this art form - came into being as modern facts.
In this lecture, Professor Abe will discuss some specific moments in which objects with religious subject matter, some now thought of as fine art and some not, were displayed. These examples of display and meaning production are meant to contrast the period before and after Chinese sculpture became art as well as the complexities inherent in the construction of new subjects in the modern era.