"In the Name of Art - Destruction and Reconstruction"
October 1, 2022
On October 16, 2021, Professor Wu Hung, Harrie A. Vanderstappen Distinguished Service Professor of Art History and the College presented a keynote lecture for the University of Chicago’s annual Humanities Day. This lecture was call "In the Name of Art—Destruction and Reconstruction."
Professor Wu in this lecture guides the audience to time travel and experience the destruction of ancient Chinese artifacts. As he moves into the present, he grounds the work of our center, the Center for the Art of East Asia at the University of Chicago on the same space-time continuum. As a convincing storyteller, Professor Wu walks the audience through the process of how Chinese Art History became World Art History.
"In human history, works of art are associated not only with creative imagination but also with constant destructive and reconstructive efforts. This presentation reflects on the destruction of Buddhist sites in China during the early 20th century, conducted not as iconoclastic acts but “in the name of art.” Political and economic factors undoubtedly contributed to such events, but was art historical scholarship itself also partially responsible for these tragedies? More important, how should today’s art historians and museum curators deal with this painful past?"
The recording of this lecture is made available through the YouTube page of the Division of Humanities.
Professor Wu Hung has written and published an article in Chinese that developed out of this lecture. We now also have the English transcript of this lecture available together with more images than was presented in the Lecture.