Facing Turbulent Times: Images of the Great Peace in East Asia
The Mary Griggs Burke Center for Japanese Art Lecture Series at Columbia University
Professor of Art History, Seoul National University
December 7, 2017
612 Schermerhorn Hall
The City of Great Peace, now in the National Museum of Korea, is a spectacular eight-panel screen presenting a peaceful, economically affluent environment with thriving commercial districts, showing an auspicious image of good governance. Ironically, however, when this screen was painted, the Joseon court was in crisis during a period of social unrest and disorder. The severe famines of 1809 and 1810 and the Hong Gyeongnae Rebellion of 1811–12 led to the rapid decline of the dynasty. It is still a mystery why The City of Great Peace was commissioned and for what purpose the screen served at a time of political turmoil and social disruption. While examining the screen in detail, this talk explores how images of good governance functioned in East Asia and what inspired their production. The significance of these types of images will be discussed within the larger context of social and political transformations, highlighting the relationship between crisis and visual politics.
Chin-Sung Chang is Professor of Art History at Seoul National University, specializing in the history of Chinese and Korean painting. He holds a master’s and PhD in art history from Yale University, an MA in art history from Columbia, and a BA in archaeology and art history from Seoul National University. He was both a Jane and Morgan Whitney Fellow in 2005–2006 and an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in 2013–2014 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He has co-authored Landscapes Clear and Radiant: The Art of Wang Hui (1632–1717) and Art of the Korean Renaissance, 1400-1600. He is currently working on monographs on the eminent Chinese literati artist Ni Zan (1301–1374) and the distinguished Korean court painter Kim Hongdo (1745–after 1806).
Detail from The City of Great Peace, early nineteenth century, Korea. Eight-panel screen, ink and colors on silk, 113.6 x 49.1 (each panel), National Museum of Korea, Seoul.