From Mementos to Masterpiece
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The Chinese Collections of the Harvard Art Museums
Harvard was the first university in the United States to offer courses in Asian art. First taught in the 1920s by Langdon Warner (1881-1955), those early courses focused on the arts of the Silk Route and on Chinese and Japanese Buddhist art, particularly sculpture. Over the decades and under the direction of successive curators, the museum collections grew in tandem with expanded course offerings in the Department of Fine Arts (now the Department of the History of Art and Architecture), so that the Harvard Art Museums’ Chinese collections now rank among the very best in the U.S., with world-class holdings of ceramics, Buddhist sculpture, and ancient bronzes and jades. This illustrated slide lecture will introduce the museums’ collection of Chinese art, trace its evolution and development over the past 100 years, and make clear the historically close ties between the museum and the art history department.
Robert D. Mowry is Alan J. Dworsky Curator of Chinese Art and Head of the Department of Asian Art at the Harvard Art Museums. He did his graduate work at the University of Kansas, studying with Laurence Sickman and Chu-tsing Li. A Senior Lecturer on Chinese and Korean Art in Harvard’s Department of the History of Art and Architecture, Robert has also been working to strengthen the Harvard Art Museums’ holdings of Chinese paintings and ceramics—particularly early Chinese ceramics, from the Neolithic through the Song periods, and modern and contemporary Chinese ink paintings. He also teaches Chinese and Korean art in Harvard’s Department of the History of Art and Architecture.