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2022 Lecture

Sammy Yukuan Lee Lecture - 40th Anniversary

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In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Sammy Yukuan Lee Lectures on Chinese Art and Archaeology, the UCLA Center for Chinese Studies is pleased to present two days of seminar, lecture, and dialogues, featuring renowned artist Hongtu Zhang and Professor Wei-Cheng Lin (University of Chicago).

The events are being held in-person in enclosed lecture rooms. We respectfully ask all attendees to wear masks if you have any symptoms of flu or other illness (cough, fever or feeling feverish/chills, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose …) [According to CDC: Regardless of vaccination status, you should isolate from others when you have COVID-19. You should also isolate if you are sick and suspect that you have COVID-19 but do not yet have test results. Please do not attend the events in-person at this time.] Thank you for your cooperation!

Schedule of Events:

Saturday, November 5, 2022

Lenart Auditorium - Fowler Museum

2:00PM-3:15PM Politics in Collecting Chinese art During the 1930s: “Chinese Temple” at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art by Wei-Cheng Lin  [He will be virtually presenting and interacting with attendees in the auditorium.]

3:30PM-4:45PM From Tiananmen Square to Times Square: My Life, My Art by Hongtu Zhang

5:00PM-6:00PM Outdoor Reception


Friday, November 4, 2022

Main Conference Room - UCLA Charles E. Young Research Library

1:00PM-3:00PM Dialogue with Graduate Students “From Material Mao to Repainting Chinese Shan Shui" by Hongtu Zhang

[Professor Wei-Cheng Lin will be presenting his seminar talk in 2023 as he won't be able to come in-person at this time due to unforeseen circumstances.]


A pioneering figure in contemporary art, Hongtu Zhang, was born in 1943 in Gansu, China and raised in a devote Chinese Muslim family. He graduated from the Central Academy of Arts and Crafts in Beijing in 1969 and studied the wall painting of the Mogao Caves in Dunhuang in 1980. Zhang came to New York in 1982 and, over the course of the ensuing decades, launched a series of influential art projects. These include Chairmen Mao, which provided a satiric mash-up with pop art and the political art of the Mao era, and the Repainting Chinese Shan Shui, which juxtaposed the painting styles of Western artists like Cezanne, Monet, and van Gogh with classic works in the traditional Chinese landscape painting tradition. His work has been exhibited at major museums and galleries around the world, including the Guggenheim, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Hall for Contemporary Art, Israel Museum, Museu Picasso, and the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts.

Wei-Cheng Lin
is Associate Professor in the Department of Art History at the University of Chicago. Lin specializes in the history of Chinese art and architecture, with a focus on the medieval period, and has published on both Buddhist and funeral art and architecture of medieval China. Lin is currently working on two book projects: Performative Architecture of China explores architecture’s performative potential through history and the meanings enacted through such architectural performance. Necessarily Incomplete: Fragments of Chinese Artifacts investigates fragments of Chinese artifacts, as well as the cultural practices they solicited and engaged, to locate their agentic power in generating the multivalent significance of those artifacts, otherwise undetectable or overlooked.


Politics in Collecting Chinses art During the 1930s: “Chinese Temple” at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

by Wei-Cheng Lin, University of Chicago

digital image of the “Chinese Temple” gallery at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, produced by the Center for the Art of East Asia at the University of Chicago.

The periodic waves of the sell-off of China’s antiquities during the late 19th and early 20th century spurred growing enthusiasm for Chinese art outside China. Most major Chinese art collections in the US were established during this period, which had a long-lasting impact on how Chinese art was perceived and studied in this country. How Chinese objects were turned into works of art through renaming, cataloging, labeling, and exhibiting in the museum has been well-researched. Yet the transformation of non-Western objects into the category of art involved more than their travels from the site of origin and integration into the world art history. In China, a number of stakeholders competed to define them as the nation’s cultural relics by recuperating their historical, cultural, and artistic values. In the US, efforts were taken to recontextualize Chinese artifacts to elicit imagery of China convenient to an emergent global order. In this lecture, I will explore strategies with which Chinese art experts in the US molded China’s artifacts to present such imagery by reshaping their material presence and redefining their artistic significance. Using the “Chinese Temple” at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City as the primary example of analysis, this lecture will demonstrate that what was displayed in the “temple” was no less than a political reality with which China struggled to come to terms in the early decades of China’s modern era.


From Tiananmen Square to Times Square: My Life, My Art

Keynote Talk by Hongtu Zhang

Zhang Hongtu, Guo Xi–Van Gogh, 1998 / To Say an Ave

Hongtu Zhang will reflect upon his life experiences, first in China and later in the US, and how they have shaped his artistic vision. The presentation will include illustrations from throughout Hongtu Zhang’s career, including works from the early-mid 1980s when the artist first began to break away from the model of social realism to the late 1980s through the mid-1990s, where his work was heavily impacted by the massive social changes afoot. The artist will then discuss his Shanshui (landscape painting) series, which reinterprets classic works from the Chinese painting tradition through the eyes of Western masters, like Vincent van Gogh and Paul Cezanne, and his more recent bison series, which has spanned the last three years. Hongtu Zhang will also discuss his understanding of art and the era in which we live. According to Zhang: “art is not a mirror of the times, art is a part of the times. Artists do not simply reflect the times they live in, artists should participate in the changes and reforms of the times."

About Sammy Yukuan Lee Lecture Series
First presented in 1982 in celebration of his 80th birthday, the Sammy Yukuan Lee Lectures on Chinese Art and Archaeology honors the life and philanthropy of respected businessman, art collector, and Chinese art authority, Sammy Yukuan Lee. The Friday Seminar series began in 2013 to allow for more in-depth discussions between the speakers and the students and faculty members. This series is presented annually by the UCLA Center for Chinese Studies with support from the Sammy Yukuan Lee Foundation, and in partnership with the Fowler Museum at UCLA.

The Sammy Yukuan Lee Lecture Series features a yearly lecture and seminar presented by leading scholars on Chinese art and archaeology.
Event Information

    Saturday, November 5, 2022
    2:00 PM
Other Years

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