Department of Art and Art History Calendar

Art History Lecture Series presents Xin Wu

The Xiao-xiang Landscape and Chinese Literati’s Subtle Art of Obliquity

Chinese painting

Why and how was an 11th-century theme of landscape painting, the Eight Views of Xiao-xiang, revived in the 18th-century through garden making in the Eight Views of Yuelu Academy? This lecture spanning eight centuries of Chinese art history illustrates a network of artistic and poetic interrelationships and of creation and response, which have to be taken into account when studying Chinese garden art. At Yuelu Academy (976-present) in Southern China, this transformation from a two-dimensional ink painting into a three-dimensional garden representation of nature was not only supported by poetic expression, but also by a literati tradition, which called upon visual materials as an oblique form of historical commentary and encoded statement of collective identity. Turning to such a unique literati art of obliquity, this lecture explores the strata of landscape at Yuelu Academy from the Song to Qing Dynasties (11th- to 19th-centuries). Works created in different media—painting, poetry, woodblock print and garden—of the classical Eight Views reconnect a bygone artistic theme with the long-lasting dialogue between landscape and pedagogy in the Chinese neo-Confucian education initiated by Zhu Xi (1130-1200).

Xin Wu, Assistant Professor
Department of Art and Art History
College of William and Mary