Chinese Art History

Learning resources

High School - College
Online/YouTube video

About Chinese Art History

Chinese art history is a long and complex story, spanning thousands of years and containing a vast and varied body of work. In a general sense, Chinese art history can be divided into several periods: the prehistoric period, the protohistoric period, the historic period, and the modern period. Within each of these periods, there are a number of different sub-periods and styles that can be identified.

The prehistoric period is generally considered to span from the earliest evidence of human habitation in China up until the beginning of the Xia dynasty in the 21st century BCE. The earliest examples of Chinese art date from this period and include simple pottery and stone tools. Over time, more complex art forms began to develop, including jade carvings and bronzes.

The protohistoric period is often said to begin with the Xia dynasty and continue through the Shang dynasty (15th-11th centuries BCE). This is a period when many of the defining features of Chinese art began to take shape, including the first use of Chinese characters and the development of the first Chinese city. bronzes and jades continued to be important during this period, as well as the first examples of Chinese painting and sculpture.

The historic period begins with the Zhou dynasty (11th-3rd centuries BCE) and continues through to the end of the imperial period in 1912 CE. This is a period of great political and cultural change in China, which is reflected in the art of the time. The Zhou period saw the rise of the first great Chinese empire, while the Han dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE) saw the height of imperial power. The Tang dynasty (618-907 CE) was a time of great cosmopolitanism, while the Song dynasty (960-1279 CE) was a period of significant technological advancement. The final imperial dynasty, the Qing (1644-1912 CE), was a time of great turmoil, which was reflected in the art of the time.

The modern period begins in 1912 CE with the fall of the Qing dynasty and continuing up to the present day. This is a period of great change and diversity in Chinese art, with a number of different schools and movements emerging. Some of the most important and influential modern Chinese artists include Xu Beiogun, Feng Zikai, Xu Teli, and Zhang Daqian.

Learning Chinese Art History

Today, the study of Chinese art history is an essential part of any art education. By understanding the past, we can better appreciate the present. For students of Chinese art history, there are many resources available, including books, websites, and museums.

The study of Chinese art history typically begins with an overview of the major dynasties and periods. This provides a framework for understanding the development of Chinese art over time. From there, students can explore specific topics in more depth, such as calligraphy, painting, sculpture, and ceramics.

There are a few different ways to learn about Chinese art history. One way is to take a course at a local college or university. This can be a great option if you have the time and resources available. Another way to learn about Chinese art history is to read books or online articles. This can be a more convenient option for busy people, and it still provides a lot of information. Whichever way you choose to learn about Chinese art history, it is sure to be a fascinating and enlightening experience.

No matter what area of Chinese art history you choose to focus on, there is much to learn and enjoy. The study of art history is a journey into the past that can provide insights into the present.