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Lecture: Performing the Divine—Buddhist, Taoist, and Confucian Practice in Chinese Art

April 23, 2013
11:00AM12:00PM
Nichols Board of Trustees Suite
$20/$30 lecture, $50/$60 lunch and lecture

How might Chinese art embody Buddhist, Confucian, or Taoist ideas and values? Common to these three traditions is the assumption that the world is inherently, dynamically, and interdependently social, and Chinese religious arts reflect social relations. Buddhist images map out both hierarchical and symmetrical relations that are attuned to the dynamic order of the Buddhist universe. Overlapping somewhat with these Buddhist images, Confucianism and Confucian images emphasize the obligations of kinship. Similarly, Taoist images participate in a pantheon of divinities that are ranked bureaucratically. The Tao realizes a social order that is emergent, constantly changing, and with which Taoist rites serve to harmonize us.

Religious images in China, like sheets of music, shape a kind of performance, wherein the viewer or devotee engages the image to come alive and respond—in a sense, to “perform.” It is in this devotional performance that the devotee and the image both come to life within the realm of the Buddha, the Tao, or Confucian propriety. In this lecture, Stanley Murashige, associate professor of art history, theory, and criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, will look closely at select examples of Chinese art from the Art Institute’s collection to consider how these works give visual realization to such religious and philosophical values.

Asian Art Council members: $20 lecture, $50 lunch and lecture
Nonmembers: $30 lecture, $60 lunch and lecture

For more information, contact Susan Packard at (312) 443-7282.

Presented as part of the Encounters with Asia series by the Asian Art Council

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Maitreya Buddha (Mi-le). Tang dynasty (618–907), dated 705. China. Gift of Alice Getty.