Tianyuan Deng

PhD Candidate, Institute of Fine Arts, GSAS

Synopsis of Research in Shanghai (September 13 - December 17):

Tianyuan's dissertation, “The Yellow Nude: Inventing Asian Classicism in Republican China,” examines the spread of the nude motif, a Western import that had no existence as an idea or a practice in dynastic China, and the country’s subsequent efforts to adopt and sinify it in its arts from late nineteenth century to early twentieth century. Despite its art historical focus, the project has wider aims. It has been amply noted that, unlike the Greco-Roman tradition, there were no nudes in the Chinese artistic imagination. Its introduction from the West therefore presents several unprecedented challenges that lie outside the field of art: how to understand a body that exists outside of social articulations, how to exercise the newly imported idea of an optical eye to observe human anatomy, and how to construct a new indigenous canon that seeks to enter world culture by adopting its “universal” motif while maintaining the country’s “difference.” Specifically, can we speak of an art of the modern age in a framework that does not depend on an implicit bifurcation between the “universal”—a birthmark term that comes with the idea of modernity—and the “different” (i.e., this is what is Chinese, or Japanese, about this art).

Last Name
Fellows Type
Global Dissertation Fellowship
Global Dissertation Fellowship semester
Fall 2021