FAAC Virtual Lecture with Prof. Yunshuang Zhang: A Poetic Life of "Like-Minded Things"

This talk examines the intimate interrelationship among material objects, the studio, and the self in Song dynasty (960–1279) China. Considering both visual and literary works of art from the period, it explores how the literati endowed objects used in the studio with scholarly meanings and aesthetic values; and how these objects, in turn, supported the construction of both the personal studio and the collective identity of Song-dynasty literati.

Reflecting on the literary transformation of the “four treasures”—the writing brush, ink, paper, and inkstone—into the “four friends” of the studio, and exploring literary and visual representations of vases with flowers, Dr. Zhang investigates a distinctive model of observing things developed by literati in the Song era. This model may also help us think about ways of constructing private spaces with “like-minded things” in today’s era of social distancing. 


image: Chinese, Brush Washer, Song dynasty (960–1279), glazed stoneware, 2 3/4 x 8 1/2 inches. Detroit Institute of Arts, Founders Society Purchase, Sarah Bacon Hill Fund, 51.284.