Under the Rainbow Bridge



VisAsia and the University of Sydney

Under the Rainbow Bridge: Commerce and Urban Life in Chinese Visual Culture

Stephen Whiteman, University of Sydney

12pm Tuesday, 4 October 2016
Centenary Auditorium, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery Road, Sydney, NSW

Perhaps the single most famous vignette in all of Chinese painting is the arching bridge spanning the Bian Canal that first appears in Zhang Zeduan’s early twelfth-century masterpiece, Going Upriver at Qingming Time. Staging the idealized vigour of life in the Northern Song capital of Bianjing, the bridge – and the scenes that extend in either direction from it – may be read as expressing the glory of the Song dynasty at its height. Taking the rainbow bridge as its point of departure, this talk explores images of urban life from Qingming to contemporary prints. In particular, it focuses on images of commerce, wealth, and poverty to understand the ways in which scenes of everyday life reflect the changing terms of urban and political cultures in China.

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This is one of a series of lectures entitled Visualising the Everyday in Asian Art.