Art and Materiality Symposium
Art and Materiality Symposium
February 6–8, 2020 | The University of Chicago
Presented in conjunction with the opening weekend of The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China, this symposium uses the lens of materiality to investigate topics central to the development and study of art around the world.
Through panels and presentations, an international array of scholars and artists build on the exhibition’s foundation, connecting the concept of materiality to Chinese art historically, and to contemporary art globally. The symposium opens with a keynote by esteemed art historian and exhibition co-curator Wu Hung. The first part of the symposium examines traditional materials in Chinese art—including pigments used in painting, glass, silk, and paper. The second part analyzes how new and often unconventional materials have impacted contemporary art practices across the globe.
About the exhibition
The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China examines celebrated and lesser-known Chinese artists and the use of unconventional materials in their work. Through the serious and enduring use of these materials, these artists have developed an individualized visual language; when taken together, this constitutes a major movement in contemporary Chinese art. Since the late 1980s, many Chinese artists have undertaken wide-ranging experiments with unconventional materials, from gunpowder and bamboo to cigarettes and human hair. For several of these artists, such experiments led them to develop their entire artistic practice around, and build a relationship with, a specific “personal” material. Textiles, ceramics, ash, wood, paper, glass, plastic, silk worms, and human hair all are included in the artists exploration of unique qualities of specific materials that convey meaning beyond form and content.
Curated by Professor Wu Hung with Orianna Cacchione, The Allure of Matter is a truly groundbreaking exhibition that will share important new scholarship on contemporary Chinese art and feature works never before shown in the United States. In addition to the Chicago presentation at the Smart Museum and Wrightwood 659, it travels to three additional venues across the U.S.
Thursday, February 6 / Keynote by Wu Hung: Material Art and VIP Exhibition Opening at the Smart Museum
Friday, February 7 / Part I: The Role of Materials in Premodern Chinese Art
Saturday, February 8 / Part II: Materiality in Global Contemporary Art
About the symposium
This symposium is presented 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 is presented in collaboration with the fifth annual US-China Forum organized by UChicago Global, UChicago Arts, and the Smart Museum of Art.
Principal support for the symposium has been provided by Alphawood Foundation Chicago. The symposium is co-sponsored by the Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Chicago with generous support from a Title VI National Resource Center Grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The US-China Forum is sponsored by the China-United States Exchange Foundation.
Sui Jianguo, Kill, 1996, Rubber and iron nails. Collection of the artist, courtesy of Pace Gallery.