Professor Fletcher Coleman
  • Professor Fletcher Coleman
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CWRU LECTURE

Ink Rubbings and the Early American Understanding of Chinese Art

Speaker: 

Professor Fletcher Coleman

Thursday, October 14, 2021, 12:00–1:00 p.m.
Gartner Auditorium

On June 6, 1916, The Cleveland Museum of Art opened its doors to the public for the first time. Among the artworks in the inaugural exhibition, a pair of remarkable ink rubbings of Buddhist sculpture dominated the display of Chinese art. Taken from the imperial procession reliefs of the Binyang Central Cave at the Longmen Grottoes, such rubbings came to play an outsized role in the field of East Asian art history in America at the turn of the 20th century. Despite the increasing presence of original artworks in museums and the expansion of photographic study collections, early Asian art professionals in the U.S. continued to place a heavy emphasis on the pedagogical and aesthetic value of ink rubbings of pictorial images. This talk examines how the needs of this new class of Asian art professionals in the United States spurred innovations in display practices and theoretical approaches to ink rubbings of images. Far beyond the Cleveland inaugural exhibition, these individuals continued to promote rubbings through dedicated exhibitions. This enduring appreciation for ink rubbings was due in large part to the resonances of the medium with the foundational approaches these experts encountered during their shared early training in the field.

Professor Coleman is a 2022 Hildegarde and Elbert Baker Visiting Scholar in the Humanities.

Advance registration for free admission is required.

This lecture is hosted by the Department of Art History and Art at Case Western Reserve University and co-sponsored by the Cleveland Museum of Art.