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"Ashura's Face: Enigma and Expression in Japan's Most Famous Sculpture"

Dr. Yukio Lippit

Monday, August 28, 2017 @4:30pm
Spencer Museum of Art room 211

No work of Japanese sculpture has been the subject of as much attention and rapturous commentary from writers, philosophers, and critics than Kofukuji’s Ashura (dated 734), perhaps the most famous piece of sculpture in Japan after the Great Buddha itself. This lecture examines the remarkable ways in which Ashura catalyzed the religious imagination in relation to its ritual context, architectural setting, and the potentiality of dry lacquer technique. Ashura allows us to better understand a new paradigm of temple hall in the ancient imperial capital of Nara, one that emerged in the wake of new forms of Buddhist knowledge and practice spreading throughout East Asia.

Yukio Lippit is Professor of History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University, where he has taught since 2003. He graduated from Harvard College in 1993 and received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 2003. He has been the recipient of fellowships from the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, the Getty Foundation, and the Japan Foundation, and has taught courses at Heidelberg University and the University of Tokyo. 
Lippit specializes in Japanese painting of the medieval and early modern periods. His book Painting of the Realm: The Kano House of Painters in Seventeenth-Century Japan (University of Washington Press, 2012) explores the ways in which attendant painters to the Tokugawa shogun developed a genealogical mode of painting that conditioned an emerging historical consciousness of Japanese painting. Painting of the Realm was awarded both the Charles Rufus Morey Book Award by the College Art Association and the John Whitney Hall Book Prize by the Association for Asian Studies.
Other writings include a number of essays on Zen portraiture and ink painting of the Muromachi period, including “Of Modes and Manners in Japanese Ink Painting: Sessh?’s Splashed Ink Landscape of 1495,” which was awarded the Arthur Kingsley Porter Prize by the College Art Association in 2013. In 2007 he was co-author with Gregory P. Levine of Awakenings: Zen Figure Painting in Medieval Japan (2007, The Japan Society of New York), and has recently published Japanese Zen Buddhism and The Impossible Painting (2017, Getty Research Institute). His current book project, titled Illusory Abode: Meaning and Materiality in Medieval Japanese Ink Painting, studies different kinds of inkwork by monk-painters, most notably apparition painting, splashed ink, and staining techniques, in relation to Zen and artistic discourse of the medieval period.


2017 Franklin D. Murphy Lecturer: Dr. Christine Guth

"Gender, Ritual, and Needlework in Early Modern Japan"
Thursday, April 27, 2017 @5:30pm
Spencer Museum of Art Auditorium

The needle was a powerful instrument in early modern Japan whose mastery offered women a means of augmenting and transforming their physical power into material things that enhanced the wellbeing and comfort of their families. Although employed both by men and women, its use was understood to be a common denominator among women of all classes and ages. Mobilized on a daily basis, this tiny implement became bound up with the intimate and affective life of its owner, her identity as a wife and mother, and the wider temporal rhythms of social, economic, and ritual life.
Because of its very mundanity, the needle has been largely ignored in studies of material culture and technology, and its physical properties have not been fully taken into account in studies of its symbolic and ritual meanings.  Anthropologist Janet Hoskins has argued that “ordinary household possessions might be given an extraordinary significance by becoming entangled in the events of a person’s life and used as a vehicle for a sense of selfhood.” In this presentation I throw light on the relationship between the agency of this gendered “biographical object” from three perspectives:  the kikkoden or “pleading for skills” ritual enacted by women of the court since the Nara period; its centrality to Confucian ideals of female virtue promoted during the Edo period; and its ritual disposal in the hari kuyo. In so doing I draw particular attention to the relationship between the needle’s physical attributes and its sacralization.

Dr. Christine Guth is Senior Tutor Emerita of the Victoria &Albert/Royal College of Art programme in History of Design. Her research interests range widely across subjects, geographies and chronologies, with Japan a particular focal point. Questions arising from the intersection of cultures are a common thread running through her work. Her current research explores materials, making and meaning in early modern Japan. Her book-length publications include Art Tea and Industry: Masuda Takashi and the Mitsui Circle (1993), The Arts of Edo Japan: the Artist and the City (1996; 2012), Longfellow’s Tattoos: Tourism, Collecting and Japan (2004), and Hokusai’s Great Wave: Biography of a Global Icon (2015).

"Wit & Wisdom in a Japanese Teabowl"
Saturday, February 4, 2017 @2:00pm
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Atkins Auditorium

The tea ceremony is widely appreciated for its social and aesthetic values, but scholars tend to ignore the important role it has also played in the creation of knowledge. The focus of this presentation is a lacquer teabowl made by Ogawa Haritsu (aka Ritsuō; 1663-1747), an artist celebrated for his innovative and imaginative use of materials. It asks why the bowl was made of lacquer rather than ceramics, and what messages the experience of handling it conveyed to its users. Dr. Guth proposes that Ritsuō’s choice of material expressed an engagement with fashionable socio-cultural and intellectual trends that informed many eighteenth-century art forms not usually associated with the world of tea.

Dr. Christine Guth led the Asian design history strand in the V&A/RCA History of Design Programme between 2007-16. She has written widely about aspects of the history of collecting, transnational cultural exchange, and material culture, particularly in relation to Japan. Her book length publications include Art Tea and Industry: Masuda Takashi and the Mitsui Circle (Princeton 1993); Art of Edo Japan: The Artist and the City 1615-1868 (Abrams 1996; Yale 2010); and Hokusai’s Great Wave: Biography



2016 Murphy Distinguished Alumni Lecture:

Scott A. Shields
Associate Director and Chief Curator, Crocker Art Museum

Three California Artists (including one you've heard of):
Jules Tavernier, Armin Hansen, and Richard Diebenkorn

November 3, 2016, 5:30pm, room 211 Spencer Museum of Art


Past Franklin D. Murphy Lecturers

2016-2017 Academic Year

Zrinka Stahuljak
Professor of Medieval Studies in French and Comparative Literature
University of California Los Angeles
April 25, 2017
"Medieval Fixers and the Libraries of Burgundy"

Burglind Jungmann
Professor of Korean Art & Visual Culture
University of California Los Angeles
April 14, 2017
"Chaekgeori: Court Culture and Foreign Inspiration in Joseon Painting"

A. Asa Eger
Professor Early & Medieval Mediterranean and Islamic Near East
University of North Carolina, Greensboro
November 14, 2016
"The Islamic-Byzantine Frontier: Interaction & Exchange Among Muslim & Christian Communities"

Scott A. Shields
Associate Director and Chief Curator
Crocker Art Museum
November 3, 2016
Distinguished Alumni Lecture: "Three California Artists (including one you've hear of): Jules Tavernier, Armin Hansen, & Richard Diebenkorn"

2015-2016 Academic Year

Gennifer Weisenfeld
Professor of Art, Art History and Visual Studies
Duke University
April 18, 2016
"Transwar Design: Kamekura Yūsaku from Nippon Kōbō to the Tokyo Olympics"

Carol Armstrong
Professor of History of Art
Yale University
March 24, 2016
"Between Greenberg and Frankenthaler: This Cézanne Which Is Not One"

Erika Doss
Professor of American Studies
University of Notre Dame
November 17, 2015
"Spiritual Moderns: Twentieth-Century American Artists and Religion"

Zaixin Hong
Professor of Art
University of Puget Sound
September 24, 2015
"Word as Image: Chinese Calligraphy in Modern and Contemporary Art"

Ellen Goheen
Former Director of Collections & Special Exhibitions
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
October 1, 2015
Distinguished Alumni Lecture: "From Temples of Art to Venues of Entertainment: The Evolution of the Art Museum"

2014-2015 Academic Year

Bernard O'Kane
Professor of Islamic Art & Architecture
American University in Cairo
April 21, 2015
"The Writing on the Walls: Epigraphy in Medieval Cairo"

Paul Groner
Professor Emeritus, Department of Religious Studies
University of Virginia
November 10, 2014
"Adventures in Japanese Tendai Buddhism: What a Textual Scholar Has Leanerd From Material Culture"

Corine Wegener
Cultural Heritage Preservation Officer
Smithsonian Institution
October 2, 2014
Distinguished Alumni Lecture: "From Berlin to Baghdad: When Art Historians Go To War"

2013-2014 Acadmic Year

Chin-Sung Chang
Associate Professor
Seoul National University
April 28, 2014
"Envisioning an Ideal World: The City of the Great Peace and Visual Politics in Early 19th Century Korea"

Elizabeth Morrison
Senior Curator of Manuscripts
J. Paul Getty Museum
March 10, 2014
"Manuscripts in a Museum Context"

Cynthia Hahn
Professor of Art History
Hunter College of the City University of New York
January 23, 2014
"Capturing Fragments of the Divine: Relics and Reliquaries of the True Cross"
April 13, 2014
"Capturing Fragments of the Divine: Relics and Power"

Vernon Hyde Minor
Research Professor, University of Illinois
Professor Emeritus, University of Colorado
October 29, 2013
Distinguished Alumni Lecture: "The Importance of Being Art History"

2012-2013 Academic Year

John T. Carpenter
Curator of Japanese Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Tuesday, April 9
"Hokusai: Painting and Deluxe Prints for Special Clients."

Kevin Carr
Associate Professor of Japanese Art History
University of Michigan
Thursday, March 28
"Who is the Hase Kannon? Reflections on Sacred Identities in Medieval Japanese Art"

Michael R. Grauer
Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs/Curator of Art
Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum
Wednesday, October 24
"My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys and Indians, and Other Horror Stories of an Unorthodox Historian of Art (and other stuff)"

 Sharon Gregory
Associate Professor of Art History
St. Francis Xavier University
Monday, October 22
"Out from Under the Tuscan Sun: Vasari, Salviati and Michelangelo in Venice"

William E. Wallace
Barbara Murphy Bryant Distinguished Professor of Art History
Washington University, St. Louis
Thursday, November 8
"Problems in Michelangelo's Sculpture… Many"

Laura Weigert
Associate Professor of Art History
Rutgers University
Tuesday, March 12
"The Devil's Stage: Hubert Cailleau's Illuminated Manuscripts and the Illusion of a Medieval Theater"

2011-2012 Academic Year

Michael Brenson
Bard College "Anatomy of a Sculptural Masterpiece: David Smith's Australia (1951)"
Spencer Museum of Art
Thursday, April 19, 2012.  5:30 PM
"David Smith and the Challenges of Biography"
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Sunday, April 22, 2012. 2:30 PM

2009-2010 Academic Year

Christopher M.S. Johns
Norman & Roselea Goldberg Professor of Art History Vanderbilt University
"China and the Church: Chinoiserie and the Roman Connection"
Thursday, April 15, 5:30 pm
Spencer Museum of Art Auditorium "The Art and Visual Culture of European Chinoiserie"
Sunday, April 18, 2:30 pm
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Toshio Watanabe
The Director of the Research Centre for Transnational Art, Identity and Nation, University of the Arts, London
"Modernity and Censorship: Nude Painting Controversy in Meiji Japan (1868-1912)"
Thursday, April 1 at 5:30 pm
Spencer Museum of Art Auditorium
"Modern Japanese Gardens in a Transnational Context"
Thursday, April 8 at 6:00 pm
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art



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