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The Making of a Standard Mountain: A Road-Construction Campaign of 1934 and the Formation of Mount Huang’s Modern Image

Wednesday 12 April 2023
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden
Lang Jingshan (Long Chin-san): Rising Clouds and Wind in the Pines, in idem, Jingshan jijin (Symphony in Black & White), Shanghai 1948, p. 12. Courtesy of Long Chin-san Art & Culture Development Association.


In the 1930s, Mount Huang, a mountain famous for its scenic beauty, became the target of touristic development, and a frequent motif in photography as well as painting. In this talk I will show how the formation of a broadly known and standardized image of this mountain was brought about by a road-building project and accompanying PR campaign. Photographers and writers were sent to the mountain to promote the new infrastructure, images of the mountain proliferated in popular pictorials, travel literature and photography journals. The photographers referenced earlier traditions of Chinese landscape painting; they reinterpreted these traditions to conform to this modern medium. They also adapted their medium to the landscape. In the process, Mount Huang was refigured as emblematic of a national landscape. In this talk, I will trace this re-imagination of the mountain and show how its new transmedial image changed perceptions about the history and the pictorial conventions of ink painting.  

Juliane Noth is Professor of East Asian Art History at Freie Universität Berlin and Research Professor at the China Institute for Visual Studies at the China Academy of Art. The focus of her research is on Chinese art and visual culture of the twentieth century. She is the author of Landschaft und Revolution: Die Malerei von Shi Lu (Reimer, 2009) and Transmedial Landscapes and Modern Chinese Painting (Harvard Asia Center, 2022). Her articles were published in Art History, Ars Orientalis, Trans Asia Photography Review, and Twentieth-Century China. She is currently working on two new research projects, one on artistic practices during the Cultural Revolution, and one on the global histories of art academies in China. 


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