This two-week intensive course focuses on the arts of East Asia, especially China, Japan, and Korea, exploring jade, bronzes, painting, ceramics from ancient times to the modern and contemporary period. The course includes handling sessions and visits, encouraging students to have hands on engagement with art objects, in order to gain an understanding of the history and material culture of arts from the region. It aims to be highly informative and enjoyable, bringing the subject to life through sessions with leading experts in the field.
During the first week, students will examine highly sophisticated forms of early material cultures of the East Asian region and how these were related to rituals, the afterlife and burials of elite members of society from neolithic to the bronze age, forming the foundations of early iconographies and script. They will also study early painting traditions linking the treatment of the figure and line to later works during the flourishing of literati and court painting. Lectures will be supplemented by visits to key institutions such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Museum, and specialist dealerships. The second week focuses on the arts in later dynasties from the Ming and Qing through to the modern period, exploring modernism and Westernization leading up to the contemporary art world. The course will also investigate the ways in which international museums and collections are responding to the current explosion of the art world in the region and its effect on culture at large.