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Yeorae YOON

New York University (New York, U.S.A.)
Institute of Fine Arts

Thesis Topic

Sensory Experience of Body and Environment in the Art of Gao Fenghan (1683–1749)

This dissertation examines the art of an independent-minded artist, Gao Fenghan (1683–1749). Previous scholarship has classed him as an Eccentric painter, mostly due to his later left-handed practice. By contrast, this dissertation attempts to understand the undoubted originality of Gao's paintings by focusing on his acute examination and critical analysis of environmental, sensorial, and somatic experience. The dissertation contextualizes Gao's art through an exploration of four themes: locality, cosmopolitanism, relocation, and self-fashioning. It investigates Gao's site-specific paintings depicting the east coast of Shandong province, which highlight his sensitivity to the specificity of the local environment. It explores Gao's intense visualization of his sensory experience of various meteorological and atmospheric phenomena in relation to the cosmopolitanism of Qing visual and intellectual culture. It analyzes his southern travel and garden paintings in order to understand how Gao experienced the unfamiliar natural environments of the Jiangnan area. And it explores Gao's unconventional self-fashioning practice of incorporating the experience of disability into his portraits, self-portraits, and metaphorical self-images. These four thematic territories overlap and intersect to provide a deeper understanding of Gao Fenghan's art, together offering a case study of conspicuously independent thinking in the history of Chinese painting.

Gao Fenghan, Riverscape of the Hongji Temple, 1734, Album of Painting and Calligraphy (fifth leaf), color on paper, 27.8 x 69.5 cm, Shandong Provincial Museum