Departmental Events

Seminar: Early Modern Pictorial Space and Digital Challenges to the Field

12:10 pm | 4/26/2022 | Live on Zoom | Until 2:00 pm | 4/26/2022

Stephen Whiteman, Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London

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In the webinar, we will discuss Dr. Whiteman’s Editorial in the June, 2021, issue of The Art Bulletin: “Beyond the Perspective Paradigm: Early Modern Pictorial Space and Digital Challenges to the Field.” Broadening an existing approach to generating three-dimensional reconstructions of the spaces depicted in pictures organized according to the rules of early modern European perspectival projection, Whiteman investigates the problems and possibilities of the approach with respect to early modern Chinese, Japanese, and Indian visual cultures, focusing on their “strategic and highly sophisticated” incorporation of linear perspective techniques as “selectively integrated into locally legible compositions, genres, and techniques.” He presents a detailed study of a monumental hanging scroll produced in the Qing court around1709 by the artist Leng Mei. Beginning with an examination of Leng Mei’s diverse amalgam of local perspectival techniques, which he and other court painters adapted from those taught by Jesuit missionaries to China, Whiteman introduces several digital approaches aimed at understanding the artist’s methods. His essay concludes with reflections on the implications of this work for countering the historic predispositions of the discipline and for decentering art history.

During the webinar, Dr. Whiteman will briefly discuss the origins, stakes, procedures, problems, and outcomes of this research. The bulk of the webinar will be devoted to discussion with participants, including an initial Q&A with scholars who have carefully studied his essay and then opening out to all participants.

Dr. Stephen H. Whiteman is Senior Lecturer at the Courtauld Institute of Art of the University of London since 2019, where he is also Head of the Research Degrees Programme. Prior to that he taught at the University of Sydney. In 2012–14, he was a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at CASVA. He received his PhD from Stanford in 2011. He specializes in the visual and spatial cultures of early modern China in their global contexts. He is the author of Where Dragon Veins Meet: The Kangxi Emperor and His Estate at Rehe (University of Washington Press, 2020) and editor of volumes on early modern and modern art in Southeast Asia and China.

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