Free and open to the public

Galleries closed Mondays

Skip navigation

Book Launch: The Allure of Matter: Materiality Across Chinese Art

Book cover reads The Allure of Matter in gold letters

December 7, 2021
6:30 AM

Join the Smart Museum of Art, the Center for the Art of East Asia, and The University of Chicago Francis and Rose Yuen Campus in Hong Kong, to celebrate the launch of The Allure of Matter: Materiality Across Chinese Art.

This virtual launch celebration brings together scholars of premodern and contemporary Chinese art to discuss the importance of materiality in Chinese art and its capacity to better figure Chinese art within narratives of global art history. Expert in late imperial China, Yuhang Li and scholar of contemporary art, Alex Burchmore will be in conversation with the editors of the volume, Orianna Cacchione and Wei-Cheng Lin. The esteemed art historian, Wu Hung will provide opening remarks for the panel.

FREE, open to all.

Please note this event takes place at 8:30 pm Hong Kong/Beijing/Singapore time and 6:30 am Chicago time.

Organized by the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art, Center for the Art of East Asia, and Yuen Campus in Hong Kong.

Program Video


Since the invention of porcelain and gunpowder, materials have animated and innovated new art forms throughout Chinese history. Artists have used both unconventional materials and conventional materials unconventionally to create new artistic styles, movements, and forms. Yet, the role materials have played in the history of Chinese art has often been overlooked. The Allure of Matter: Materiality Across Chinese Art systematically investigates the role and concept of materiality in Chinese art for the first time. The book builds upon scholarship originally presented at the Art and Materiality Symposium, held on the occasion of the Smart Museum of Art’s exhibition The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China.

Use promo code PRMATTER20 to get 20% off when ordering through UChicago Press.


Yuhang Li is Associate Professor of Chinese Art in the Department of Art History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research interests cover a wide range of subjects and mediums of visual and material cultures in late imperial China. She is the author of Becoming Guanyin: Artistic Devotion of Buddhist Women in Late Imperial China (Columbia University Press, 2020), which was awarded the 2021 Religion and the Arts Book Award by the American Academy of Religion. 

Alex Burchmore is an art historian and Lecturer in Museum & Heritage Studies at the University of Sydney, specializing in the study of Chinese and Southeast Asian art of the past and present. Alex received the Art Association of Australia and New Zealand’s annual award for the Best Scholarly Article in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art (2018), and the inaugural Oxford Art Journal Essay Prize for Early Career Researchers (2019). His first book, New Export China: Translations Across Time and Place in Contemporary Chinese Porcelain Art, is under contract with the University of California Press for publication in 2023.

Orianna Cacchione is Curator of Global Contemporary Art at the Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago. At the Smart Museum, Orianna curated the exhibitions The Allure of Matter: Material Art in China (with Wu Hung); Samson Young: Silver moon or golden star, which will you buy of me?; and Tang Chang: The Painting that is Painted with Poetry is Profoundly Beautiful. At the Art Institute of Chicago, she organized Zhang Peili: Record. Repeat., the first major presentation of the Chinese video artist at an American museum.

Wei-Cheng Lin is an Associate Professor in the Department of Art History at the University of Chicago. Lin specializes in the history of Chinese art and architecture, with a focus on medieval period. His research on Buddhist and funeral art and architecture of medieval China has been published extensively.

Wu Hung, a recipient of a Harvard University honorary degree in arts and a member of the American Academy of Art and Science, currently holds the Harrie A. Vanderstappen Distinguished Service Professorship at the Department of Art History at the University of Chicago, and is also the director of the Center for the Art of East Asia and an Adjunct Curator at the Smart Museum. He has published many books and anthologies, including Making History: Wu Hung on Contemporary Art (2008), Wu Hung on Contemporary Chinese Artists (2009), Contemporary Chinese Art: Primary Documents (2010), Contemporary Chinese Art: A History (2014), Zooming In: Histories of Photography in China (2016) and among others