A Closer Look: Buddhist Art in Sixth-Century Shandong

2021 Sammy Lee Lecture

A Closer Look: Buddhist Art in Sixth-Century Shandong

Head of a Buddha, https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/60794

Saturday, November 6, 2021
2:00 PM - 3:30 PM (Pacific Time)
Live via Zoom

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A Closer Look: Buddhist Art in Sixth-Century Shandong

Hsueh-man Shen
Institute of Fine Arts, New York University


The sixth century CE saw Buddhism and Buddhist art flourish in China despite political instability. New forms and mediums were exploited to depict Buddhist stories and doctrines. In the coastal province of Shandong, sutra texts were carved in large scale on cliffs and boulders. Meanwhile, numerous bronze statuettes were cast and subsequently buried in caches. While cave-temples and stone sutras are concentrated in the western part of Shandong, bronze and stone sculptures come mostly from central Shandong. Taking advantage of new discoveries in the region, this lecture explores the history of Buddhist art in Shandong, where distinctive approaches were developed in response to stimuli arriving from India and other parts of the Buddhist world via land and maritime trade routes during the period in concern.

Hsueh-man Shen is Ehrenkranz Associate Professor in World Art at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. Prior to joining the faculty of NYU, she taught at the University of Edinburgh, U.K. She also held several curatorial positions in the U.K., U.S., and Taiwan. Shen received her Ph.D. in Archaeology at the University of Oxford and M.A. in Art History at National Taiwan University.
Professor Shen’s research on the art and material culture of premodern China focuses on the transmission of ideas, technologies, and objects across time and space. She has published books, articles, and book chapters, as well as curating exhibitions of varied subjects. She is author of the recent book entitled Authentic Replicas: Buddhist Art in Medieval China (2019). Among her exhibitions was Gilded Splendor: Treasures of China’s Liao Empire that opened at the Asia Society Museum in New York and subsequently travelled to Germany and Switzerland (2006-2007). More recently she co-curated the special exhibition, Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China’s Silk Road, to open at the Getty Center in 2016. She is currently working on a book manuscript to explore how maritime connections reconfigured the cultural boundaries of East Asia during the long twelfth century.

About Sammy Lee Lecture Series
First presented in 1982 in celebration of his 80th birthday, the Sammy Yukuan Lee Lectures on Chinese Art and Archaeology honors the life and philanthropy of respected businessman, art collector, and Chinese art authority, Sammy Yukuan Lee. This series is presented annually by the UCLA Center for Chinese Studies with support from the Sammy Yukuan Lee Foundation.

Due to the COVID-19 health crisis, we have temporarily shifted the lecture series to an online Zoom-based platform for 2021. This year we are pleased to feature two renowned speakers in their respective fields, Hsueh-Man Shen (Ehrenkranz Associate Professor in World Art, NYU) and Dr. Zhouyong Sun (Shaanxi Province Academy of Archeology). Each speaker will lead a graduate workshop and deliver a public lecture, with Professor Shen speaking on November 5-6, 2021 and Dr. Sun on November 19-20, 2021. All events are free and open to the public.

Sponsor(s): Center for Chinese Studies, Center for Buddhist Studies