March 12, 2014

The Classical Tradition in Chinese Architecture and the Beaux-Arts

Annual Alvin Holm Lecture

with Nancy S. Steinhardt

Athenaeum of Philadelphia
219 S. 6th Street, Philadelphia, PA
6:00 PM

Chinese architecture is grounded in a classical tradition that traces to the first millennium BCE and persists until the fall of imperial China in 1911. When China finally confronted modern construction, it was in the form of the Beaux-Arts method, a system highly derivative of European Classicism that was the core of education in architecture programs in the US in the 1920s. This lecture explores the Beaux-Arts education of China’s first generation of architects, and what happened when they returned to China to establish the first practices and departments of architecture, and to write Chinese architectural history in the tumultuous years of the 1930s and 1940s. It continues to explain the implications of Beaux-Arts training in Republican China and Taiwan, Soviet-influenced China of the 1950s and 1960s, during the Cultural Revolution, and later.

Nancy S. Steinhardt is Professor of East Asian Art and Curator of Chinese Art at the University of Pennsylvania. She is author or co-author of Chinese Traditional Architecture (1984), Chinese Imperial City Planning (1990), Liao Architecture (1997), Chinese Architecture (2003), Reader in Traditional Chinese Culture (2005), Chinese Architecture and the Beaux-Arts (2011), and Chinese Architecture in an Age of Turmoil, 200-600 (in press) and more than 70 scholarly articles. She is currently writing a book about mosques in China. She is a recipient of grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, Institute for Advanced Study, NEH, ACLS, SSRC, Getty Foundation, Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, and American Philosophical Society. Steinhardt is currently involved in research projects in China, Korea, and Japan.