Entangled modernities: The representation of China's past in early twentieth century Chinese and Japanese painting /

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Bibliographic Details
Author / Creator:Su, Stephanie, author.
Ann Arbor : ProQuest Dissertations & Theses, 2015
Description:1 electronic resource (339 pages)
Format: E-Resource Dissertations
Local Note:School code: 0330
URL for this record:http://pi.lib.uchicago.edu/1001/cat/bib/10773343
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Other authors / contributors:University of Chicago. degree granting institution.
Notes:Advisors: Hung Wu; Chelsea Foxwell Committee members: Martha Ward.
Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 77-02(E), Section: A.
Summary:This dissertation explores the transcultural relationship between China and Japan as it was negotiated through the practice of history painting from the 1860s to the 1930s. In particular, I focus on the visual representation of China's past. During the nation-building period of both countries, ancient China was reimagined to be an idealized cultural entity that accommodated divergent views on conceptualizing the origin of East Asian culture and the value of East Asian art vis-a-vis the West. Combining visual and textual analysis with historical and social-political accounts surrounding these works, I reveal that Japanese and Chinese artists redefined their cultural identities in relation not only to the West, but also to each other, and to each other's histories. This dissertation reconstructs a more interconnected history of East Asian art by demonstrating that the Japanese and Chinese reimaginings of the past, present and future were intricately intertwined.
The goals of this project are multiple. First, it offers a revised understanding of "history painting." Past scholarship interpreted the significance of history painting along the core narrative of nationalism in respective countries. By contrast, this project elaborates the historical complexities of the Sino-Japanese relationship embedded in the art productions in both countries. Second, it problematizes the relationship between medium and cultural identity. As oil paintings completed in the mode of French academic art, this body of work was viewed strictly along the East-West dichotomy. By closely examining artists' works and writings, this dissertation argues that artists from both countries endeavored to break down the East-West binary model that had been tied to the mediums they practiced. Third, this dissertation proposes a viable methodology to discuss modern East Asian art in a global context. Rather than belated responses to Western art, these works demonstrated artists' attempt to reconfigure temporality, which reflected their profound reflections on what constituted the essence of their own cultures and what position it occupied in the global history of art.
This dissertation focuses on two pioneering artists who ventured to practice history painting: Nakamura Fusetsu (1866-1943) of Japan and Xu Beihong (1895-1953) of China. The four chapters are arranged in chronological order, tracing their artistic careers from East Asia to Europe and back to examine their changing engagements with the representation and discourse on ancient China. Each chapter centers on the major concepts that guided their approaches, which were shaped by the interactions between the two countries and the concurrent global trends. In these four chapters, this dissertation demonstrates that ancient China did not simply serve as a passive subject to be appropriated by Japan. Instead, there were multidirectional flows of ideas between China and Japan, even when their power relationship was imbalanced.