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Past Event

Virtual Saturday University: Indigo in Two 15th-century Chinese Paintings

Oct 31 2020

Seattle Asian Art Museum


10 AM – 11:30 AM

Saturday University Lecture Series: Color in Asian Art - Material and Meaning


Dip into dimensions of color and pigment in Asian art with eight in depth talks. From legend and ritual, to trade and cultural exchange, to technical innovation and changing artistic practices—the use of bold colors has been considered alternatively excessive, precious, or brilliant throughout history. What rare pigments and closely guarded techniques produced some artworks, and what artistic innovations and social changes produced others? Join us to enjoy a spectrum of talks on colors produced from the earth, sea, fire, plants, and insects.

Indigo in Two 15th-century Chinese Paintings
Quincy Ngan, Assistant Professor in Art History, Yale University

For millennia in China, the indigo plant has been used for dye, makeup, painting colorants, and medicine. This talk explores the unusual use of indigo in two 15th-century Chinese paintings depicting Gossypium—the cotton plant—and silkworms nibbling mulberry leaves. Their green leaves depicted as blue may reflect on value of silk, cotton, and indigo in the form of finished textiles, and give nuance to the assumption that Chinese scholar-painters tend to reject color.

About the Presenter

Quincy Ngan is Assistant Professor in Art History and Research Fellow at the MacMillan Center, Yale University, where he teaches Art of Pre-Modern to Contemporary China, and Chinese Painting. His research explores color, pigments, and materiality in traditional Chinese painting, as well as representations of skin in Chinese art from the premodern era and thereafter.



Dragon's Blood and the Blood of Dragons

OCT 10

The Colors of Space and Time

OCT 17

Shades of Green and White

OCT 24

Pigments and Artistic Interventions

OCT 31

Indigo in Two 15th-century Chinese Paintings


Korean Culture in Five Colors

NOV 14

Colors of the Earth, Colors of the Sky

NOV 21

Turquoise, The Sky Blue Stone


Free with registration, a link to the zoom webinar will be e-mailed to you. Two tickets available per registration.There are no series tickets, please register for each talk you wish to join. Please cancel if you won't be able to attend.
Image: Cotton plant and mulberry leaves; painting, indigo and ink on paper; Chinese, 15th c.; Sun Ai, with calligraphy by Shen Zhou and Zian Renfu.

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