Art and Materiality
February 6-8, 2020
Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, The University of Chicago
An international symposium organized by the CAEA and the Smart Museum of Art, “Art and Materiality,” took place February 7-8, 2020 to coincide with the opening events of The Allure of Matter exhibition at the Smart Museum and Wrightwood 659. The symposium included scholars and artists who spoke about traditional and contemporary Chinese uses of materials in art.
Presented in conjunction with the opening weekend of the major contemporary art exhibition, The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China in Chicago, this international symposium was based on topics central to the development and study of art around the world through the lens of materiality. In panel discussions and paper presentations, scholars and artists investigated traditional as well as contemporary art to share perspectives on materials of artistic production. This symposium was organized by the Smart Museum of Art together with the Center for the Art of East Asia in the Department of Art History at the University of Chicago. The keynote address by Prof. Wu Hung was presented on March 6 in collaboration with the fifth annual US-China Forum organized by UChicago Global, UChicago Arts, and the Smart Museum of Art. The first part of the symposium focused on the role of materials in premodern Chinese art. Scholars examined traditional materials such as glass, silk, hair, paper, ash and smoke. These highlighted new perspectives such as transparency, transformation, and the use of unusual media and approaches to crafting materials. The second part of the symposium considered materiality in contemporary art across the globe with analysis of how new and often unconventional materials impact contemporary art practices and the conservation of artworks.