Provence & Personhood: Collecting in China
First Annual Lecture on the Project for the Study of Collecting & Provenance, Getty Musuem
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Museum Lecture Hall
1200 Getty Center Drive
In the growing literature on collecting in what is often termed "early modern" Europe --broadly the period of the Renaissance and Baroque -- its relationship to the formation of new concepts of subjectivity and new forms of personal identity is prominent. The "collector" is seen as the ideal bourgeois subject, allowing the "construction" of persons to be based on a close connection between possessions and identity formation. However in the China of the Ming period (1368–1644), collectors, dealers, and art market writers operated with quite a different set of presumptions about ownership and indeed about identity itself. This lecture examines how "collecting," and its related concerns with the provenance of objects deemed worthy of collection, is an activity which must be studied in specific historical contexts. By looking at some Ming practices around art collecting—by whom, for whom, and why it was collected—the lecture propo! ses that other examples of these contexts are equally worthy of close study and attention.
Craig Clunas is the Percival David Professor of Chinese and East Asian Art in the Department of Art and Archaeology at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. His research interests center on the cultural history of China in the Ming period. Author of numerous books, Clunas recently completed a manuscript based on the 2004 Slade Lectures titled Empire of Great Brightness: Visual and Material Cultures of Ming China.
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