Sammy Yukuan Lee Seminar - 40th Anniversary

Photo for Sammy Yukuan Lee Seminar -

interior of the Wanfo Pavilion 万佛阁 at Beijing Zhihua Temple 北京智化寺 (1444). Image provided by the Center for the Art of East Asia at the University of Chicago.

Friday, November 4, 2022
12:30 PM - 3:30 PM
UCLA Charles E. Young Research Library
Main Conference Room

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In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Sammy Yukuan Lee Lectures on Chinese Art and Archaeology, the UCLA Center for Chinese Studies is pleased to present two days of seminar, lecture, and dialogues, featuring renowned artist Hongtu Zhang and Professor Wei-Cheng Lin.

Schedule of Events:

Friday, November 4, 2022

Main Conference Room - UCLA Charles E. Young Research Library

12:30PM - 1:50PM Seminar with Wei-Zheng Lin on “A Multiplicity of Virtual Buddhist Worlds: Beijing Zhihua Temple’s Wanfo Pavilion”

2:00PM - 3:30PM Dialogue with Graduate Students “From Material Mao to Repainting Chinese Shan Shui - Hongtu Zhang


Saturday, November 5, 2022

Lenart Auditorium - Fowler Museum

2:00PM - 3:15PM "Politics in Collecting Chinses art During the 1930s: “Chinese Temple” at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art" by Wei-Zheng Lin

3:30PM - 4:45PM Hongtu Zhang Talk and Q & A 

5:00PM - 6:00PM Outdoor Reception


A Multiplicity of Virtual Buddhist Worlds: Beijing Zhihua Temple’s Wanfo Pavilion (1444)

Located in the west of the Forbidden City, Zhihua Temple stands as one of the best-preserved architectural complexes from Ming China. Among a few authentic Ming structures, the temple features a two-story Buddhist pavilion, comprising the Hall of the Tathagata (Rulaidian) on the lower level and the Pavilion of Ten Thousand Buddhas (Wanfoge) on the upper. Pavilions, or ge in Chinese, have been built in Buddhist temples since the religion’s early history. It is also typical to find a multistory pavilion on the central axis of Ming temples, thanks to the pavilion’s capacity to accommodate more interior space while offering an imposing elevation and privileged viewpoint. Yet, how the pavilion’s multilevel interior space and vertical structure affect the ways in which the iconographic program is perceived and understood has not been fully explored. In particular, why built multistoried pavilions in the first place, given that the Chinese architectural tradition characterized by horizontal sprawl of spatial arrangement did not favor tall structures? In this seminar, I will trace the history of this specific building type, arguing that as building technology evolved, individual stories inside a pavilion became more connected structurally and spatially, soliciting an architectural imagination that other types of structure could not. In the case of the Zhihua Temple’s Wanfo Pavilion, the multiple levels elicit a multiplicity of virtual Buddhist worlds, maximizing the religiosity that would not have been comprehended otherwise.

Wei-Cheng Lin is Associate Professor in the Department of Art History at the University of Chicago. Lin specializes in the history of Chinese art and architecture, with a focus on the medieval period, and has published on both Buddhist and funeral art and architecture of medieval China. Lin is currently working on two book projects: Performative Architecture of China explores architecture’s performative potential through history and the meanings enacted through such architectural performance. Necessarily Incomplete: Fragments of Chinese Artifacts investigates fragments of Chinese artifacts, as well as the cultural practices they solicited and engaged, to locate their agentic power in generating the multivalent significance of those artifacts, otherwise undetectable or overlooked.


A pioneering figure in contemporary art, Hongtu Zhang, was born in 1943 in Gansu, China and raised in a devote Chinese Muslim family. He graduated from the Central Academy of Arts and Crafts in Beijing in 1969 and studied the wall painting of the Mogao Caves in Dunhuang in 1980. Zhang came to New York in 1982 and, over the course of the ensuing decades, launched a series of influential art projects. These include Chairmen Mao, which provided a satiric mash-up with pop art and the political art of the Mao era, and the Repainting Chinese Shan Shui, which juxtaposed the painting styles of Western artists like Cezanne, Monet, and van Gogh with classic works in the traditional Chinese landscape painting tradition. His work has been exhibited at major museums and galleries around the world, including the Guggenheim, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Hall for Contemporary Art, Israel Museum, Museu Picasso, and the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts.


About Sammy Yukuan 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, and in partnership with the Fowler Museum at UCLA.

Sponsor(s): Center for Chinese Studies, Richard C. Rudolph East Asian Library