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February 6–8, 2020 at The University of Chicago

Art and Materiality Symposium

Presented in conjunction with the opening weekend of The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China, this scholarly symposium uses the lens of materiality to investigate topics central to the development and study of contemporary art in China.

Through panels and presentations, an international array of eighteen scholars and artists build on the foundation of The Allure of Matter, connecting the concept of materiality to Chinese art historically, and to contemporary art globally. The symposium opens with a keynote by esteemed art historian and exhibition co-curator Wu Hung. The first part of the symposium examines traditional materials in Chinese art—including pigments used in painting, glass, silk, and paper. The second part analyzes how new and often unconventional materials have impacted contemporary art practices across the globe.

FREE, but space is limited. Please register in advance.


Orianna Cacchione • Anne Feng • Yuhang Li • Nancy P. Lin • Wei-Cheng Lin • Elizabeth Mangini • Christine Mehring • Sara Moy • Quincy Ngan • Ravel Rivenc • Song Dong • Catherine Stuer • Reiko Tomii • Katherine Tsiang • Niko Vicario • Eugene Wang  • Wu Hung • Yusen Yu


Thursday, February 6, 5 pm

Logan Center for the Arts
915 E. 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637

Keynote Address by Wu Hung

“Material is the Message: Exploring an Overlooked Aspect of Contemporary Chinese Art”
The Art and Materiality symposium opens with the keynote at the US-China Forum by The Allure of Matter co-curator Wu Hung.

Friday, February 7, 9 am–4:15 pm

Logan Center for the Arts
915 E. 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637

Part I: The Role of Materials in Premodern Chinese Art

Featuring panel presentations and discussions with:

  • Anne Feng, Boston University
  • Wei-Cheng Lin, University of Chicago
  • Katherine Tsiang, University of Chicago
  • Yuhang Li, University of Wisconsin
  • Quincy Ngan, Yale University
  • Catherine Stuer, Denison University
  • Yusen Yu, University of Oxford
  • Eugene Wang, Harvard University

Saturday, February 8, 9 am–4:30 pm

Logan Center for the Arts
915 E. 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637

Part II: Materiality in Global Contemporary Art

Featuring panel presentations and discussions with:

  • Christine Mehring, University of Chicago
  • Orianna Cacchione, University of Chicago
  • Ravel Rivenc, Getty Research Institute
  • Sara Moy, Independent Conservator
  • Reiko Tomii, Independent Scholar
  • Elizabeth Mangini, California College of the Arts
  • Niko Vicario, Amherst College
  • Song Dong in conversation with Nancy P. Lin

Saturday, February 8, 3–7 pm

Smart Museum of Art
5550 S. Greenwood Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637

Wrightwood 659
659 W. Wrightwood Avenue
Chicago, IL 60614

Opening Celebration: The Allure of Matter

Following the reception, celebrate The Allure of Matter with an opening weekend reception happening simultaneously at the Smart Museum of Art and Wrightwood 659.


This symposium is presented by the Smart Museum of Art together with the Center for the Art of East Asia in the Department of Art History at the University of Chicago. The keynote address is presented in collaboration with the fifth annual US-China Forum organized by UChicago Global, UChicago Arts, and the Smart Museum of Art.

Principal support for the symposium has been provided by Alphawood Foundation Chicago. Additional support is provided by The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation. The symposium is co-sponsored by the Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Chicago with generous support from a Title VI National Resource Center Grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The US-China Forum is sponsored by the China-United States Exchange Foundation.