CIHA 2016 in Beijing

34th World Congress of Art History

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SUH Katharina I-Bon
Regarding China as the Other in 18th century paintings of Daoist immortals by Kim Hongdo

Session 14 The Other and the Foreign: Contact, Curiosity, and Creative Exchange

Seoul National University: PhD program; major: “Art History”


As a country inside the Sinosphere, Korea during Joseon dynasty (1392-1910) was strongly oriented towards classical Chinese culture. But after the Chinese Ming dynasty was toppled by the Manchus in the middle of the 17th century, the political change in China sparked a discussion about Chinese models and Koreanness among the ruling circles of Joseon. The examination of itself resulted in artistic products with indigenous features, such as True View Landscape painting, genre painting and Korean-language poetry. At the same time, however, classical Chinese themes were continuously pursued. Popular among the upper class were for instance paintings depicting Daoist immortals (sinseon do 신선도 神仙圖), whose roots are located in ancient Chinese culture. Among the surviving works of 18th century painter Kim Hongdo (김홍도 金弘道; 1745–after 1806), there is a number of paintings featuring this motif which shall be examined in this study. By regarding the Chinese origin as a foreign element – the Other in question – this paper aims to detect methods of depicting the Otherness. It first explores in what way Otherness is visualized using artistic means, e.g. by stylistic differences and depictions of cultural and geographical characteristics. Then, it investigates possible reasons for the demarcation of Otherness in relation to the paintings’ production during a politically eventful time.



SUH Katharina I-Bon 

Katharina I-Bon Suh graduated from Freie University Berlin, Germany, with a Master’s degree in East Asian Art History, while studying Korean and Chinese language. Within this major, her main fields of interest are traditional arts, Korean arts, Buddhism, landscape architecture and literati culture. Since 2014, she studies in Korea by pursuing a PhD program at Seoul National University with the intention to put her research focus on Korean painting of the late Joseon Dynasty. In 2015, she assisted the curator of the Asian Art Museum Berlin in organizing an exhibition project which involved Korean contemporary artists. She was twice awarded PROMOS scholarships, administered by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), for language training in Korea and received a scholarship from Seoul National University’s Women’s Faculty as well as a scholarship for excellent foreign students from the university’s College of Humanities.