China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
Over the past two decades, scholarly and public interest in the historiography of East Asian art has increased significantly. Yet, despite this upsurge in scholarship, such studies are rarely grounded in the artworks themselves, and they often fail to recognize the importance of the first formal academics, curators, and critics that professionalized the discipline of East Asian art history. This panel seeks to advance the historiography of the field in these two key areas.
First, our research explores canon formation and the institutionalization of East Asian art as an academic discipline in China, Japan, and the United States. Although scholars have addressed some of the earliest collectors, dealers, explorers, and institutions, the generations of professors and museum professionals that shaped the discipline during the twentieth century remain significantly understudied. Critical examination of the approaches deployed by these individuals is crucial for reckoning with how East Asian art came to be encountered, studied, and canonized over the course of the past century.
Second, this panel addresses how methodological approaches, pedagogies, media sources, and display strategies were linked to specific categories of objects from East Asia. Utilizing the physical qualities of artworks from these categories, panelists examine how East Asian art came to be understood by both experts and the broader public during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In doing so, this panel seeks to explore overlooked sources involved in the introduction of Asian art and move the field towards a truly object-based mode of art historiography.