The China Contemporary Art Forum 2010

Beijing International Conference on Art Theory and Criticism 2010

Location: The Central Academy of Fine Art, Beijing(tentative)

Schedule: May 19th to 22th

Day 1 (May 19th)

8:30 AM
Welcoming reception. The organizers will give welcome speeches and introductions.

9:00 AM
Plenary lecture 1
by Western scholar  

9:45 AM
Plenary lecture 2
by Chinese scholar

10:30 Am
Plenary lecture 3
by Western scholar

11:15 Am
Plenary lecture 4
by Chinese scholar

12:00: NOON

1:00 PM
Chinese contemporary art tour 

Day 2 (May 20th)

9:00 AM
Discussion on conference dossier
First session
with 15 minutes break

12:00 NOON

1:00 PM
Discussion on conference dossier
Second session
with 15 minutes break

5:00 PM

Day 3 (May 21th)

9:00 AM
Dialogue between Western and Chinese scholars 
Group A, B,

12:00 NOON

1:00 PM
Dialogue between Western and Chinese scholars 
Group C, D,

 5:00 PM dinner

Day 4 (May 22th)

9:00 AM
 Round table: first session

12:00 NOON

1:00 PM
Round table: second session

5:30 PM
Farewell ceremony




The organizers

Qigu Jiang is an artist. He pioneered the “Eighty Five Chinese Contemporary Art Movement”in Shanghai with a multi-media installation show in 1985, and now concentrates on ink andbrush painting. He teaches both studio and art history classes in School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

James Elkins is an art historian. He is the author of 20 books, and editor of 17 books. He has organized 10 international conferences and publications, involving over 300 scholars from over 45 countries. His book, Chinese LandscapePainting as Western Art History, is forthcoming from Hong Kong University Press. His home page is here

Lao Zhu Graduated with “Magister Atrium” in art history form CCFA,and later received
his Ph.D. from University Heidelberg, Germany. His is a professor at Piking University
and an author of many books and essays on art history and art theory.

Selena Yang
Conference secretary ,Beijing

Linlin Chen
Conference secretary ,Chicago


China Contemporary Art Foundation
Chicago Research House for Asian Art


Peking University
Central Academy of Fine Arts
People’s University of China
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Wall Art Museum



Chinese and Western Scholars

Li Xiaoshan

Well-known art critic, art curator, novelist. was born in 1957. In 1980 was admitted to Department of Fine Art Nanjing Art Institute, in 1987, h graduate with master degree, and current Professor of Nanjing Art institute. Considered as the man in the hall of the fame in arts community since the 80s, Li Xiaoshan published many books and articles and  have become an important part of the history of Chinese contemporary art. His books including "History of Modern Chinese Painting", "Critical Attitude", "Arraying in Array", "What we are facing", and collected essays of art criticism, he also published a novel "Trojan epic" which reflects his critical thinking, intellectual strength, depth, sharpness and uniquely insightful observations.

Well-known art historian and art critic. was born Zhijiang County in Hunan Province, he studied at Hunan Normal University, Department of Fine Arts, and Art History Department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts. He received a degree of the Master of Arts, and is currently the professor of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, and the director of CAFA Journal, the editorial director of "Art Studies" , the editor in chief of "World Art Magazine" and the doctoral tutor. Major works include: "School's Twilight" (Hunan Fine Arts Publishing House), "Front Side" (Hunan Fine Arts Publishing House), "Ode to the mundane from the heroic world" (Chinese People's University Press), "World Art Collection: 20th Century Western Art "(Chinese People's University Press),"The Selected Works of World Art" four volumes edition (Hebei Fine Arts Publishing House)," Selected Works of Contemporary Western Art Criticism " two volumes edition (Hebei Fine Arts Publishing House), the main translation works" Panovsky and Base of Art History "(Hunan Fine Arts Publishing House)," Art and Civilization - Cultural History of European Art "(Oriental Publishing Center).

Li Xianting
In 1978 graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts Department of Chinese Painting. 1979 - 1983 appointed as the editor of "Fine Art" magazine. When Chinese art was in a crucial stage of development, he grasps the moment of change and promote the "Scar Art" , and "Local Art" as Chinese contemporary art, and curatored the Exhibition of Twelve Shanghai Artists in 1985 and many important contemporary art shows since. He initiated the movement of Chinese "Political POP", and  also organized many influential discussions through the magazine such as "Realism and Modernism", "Art of Self-expression" ,"Abstract art" and wrote many influential essays on Chinese contemporary art.

Huang Du
Born in 1965 in Shaanxi Province. In 1988 he graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts, the Department of Art History. From 1988 to 2001 served successively as "Fine Art" magazine editor and vice director. From 1991 to 1992 he studied art history in the University of Bologna, Italy. He is an independent curator and art critic, and Is now pursuing his PhD in art history at the CAFA, and works as part-time TV anchor in art section for "Today's Pioneer", also serves as a juror on editorial board for the book "Today's Chinese Art", and as editor and writer for "Chinese Contemporary Cultural Development studies: cross-century cultural change and development " (Jin Yuan- Pu editor in chief, the state of philosophy and social science "95 "key projects, developme-nt strategy of China's contemporary culture and the arts to protect specific outcomes). He participated in a number of international contemporary art symposium and served as judges, such as the 1997 Munich, Germany, Lenbach-Hous Art Gallery "Art Award" (recommended), the 1998 Biennale of Sydney, Australia Seminar (Speaker), 2000 Shanghai Biannual , (Speaker), 2000 Vancouver, Canada, the International Seminar for Curators (speaker).

Lü Peng
Born in 1956 in Chongqing, Sichuan. 1977-1982 studied in the Department of Education, Sichuan Teachers College. 1982-1985, he served as editor for "Drama and Film" magazine. 1986-1991 he served as deputy secretary general of the Sichuan Dramatists Association. 1990-1993 he served as the executive editor "Art • Market" magazine. He was the curator of the "Guangzhou Biennale" 1992. He received PhD degree from China Academy of Fine Arts, and is now an associate professor of art history at the Academy of Fine Arts. His major books including: "European Modern Painting Aesthetics" (Lingnan Fine Arts Press, 1989), "Modern Painting: The new image of language" (Shandong Arts Press, 1987, reprinted 1999), "Art - Revelation of people" (Lingnan Fine Arts Press, 1990 edition), "20th Century Art and Culture" (co-author with Yi Dan, Hunan Fine Arts Publishing House in 1990), "Modern Art and Cultural Criticism" (Sichuan Fine Arts Press, 1992), "Chinese Modern Art History :1979-1989 "(co-author with Yi Dan, Hunan Fine Arts Publishing House in 1992)," Art Action "(Chengdu Press, 1994)," Chinese contemporary art history :1990-1999 "(Hunan Fine Arts Publishing House in 2000), "Creek in Remote Mountains - Song Dynasty landscape painting's history and taste transformation" (Chinese People's University Press, 2004), "20th Century Chinese Art History" (Peking University Press, 2006) Main translation works: "Selected Letters of Cezanne Van Gogh and Gauguin" (Sichuan Fine Arts Press, 1986, Guangxi Normal University Press reprint 2003, the China Peoples University Press reprint 2004) "On the Art of Spirit" by W. Kandinsky, (Sichuan Fine Arts Publishing House, 1986), "Landscape into Art" by Kenneth Clark (Sichuan Fine Arts Publishing House, 1988)

Fan Di'an
Born in Fujian in 1955, has severed for many years as vice president of the
Central Academy of Fine Arts, now is the curator  of China National Art Gallery, He is also the vice chairman of the Art Theory Committee ofthe Chinese Artists Association. He engaged in the 20th century and contemporary Chinese art studies, art criticism and exhibition planning. Since the 1980s, he actively promotes China's New Art Movement and the international art exchange, and has organized variety of domestic and international visual art evens, and involved in
architecture projects, public art and other large-scale cultural activities. In recent years he planned exhibitions including "Living in Time" (Berlin, Germany),
"Urban Creation: 2002 Shanghai Biennale" (Shanghai), "The 25th Sao Paulo Biennial" (China Pavilion), "Venice Biennial" 50th, 51st Session, (China Pavilion), "What is China? the Chinese Contemporary Art Exhibition" (Paris Pompidou Center), "The Dawning of the East 20th Century Chinese Painting Exhibition" (Paris),

"Chinese Contemporary Sculpture Exhibition" (Paris, Washington DC), "SecondReality: Chinese Contemporary Photography Exhibition" (Brussels) and other exhibitions. In 2005 he received Award of the United States McCarthy Ban Foundation. He was selected as one of 50 celebrities of world art by "Art and Investment" magazine.

Poet, well-known art critic,  professor at Tsinghua  University. He was  born in 1957 in city of Qingdao, and graduated from China's North-western University with BA degree, and MA degree from Chinese Language and Literature Department of Beijing Normal University. He severed as deputy editor in chief for literature magazine "Changan" and taught at Sichuan Academy of Fine Art as a professor and is currently a professor at the College of Fine Arts, Tsinghua University, he is also a graduate advisor, a member of China Institute of aesthetics  and The International Society of aesthetics. His academic research interests: art Criti-cism, modern art history and theory, post-modern aesthetics and cultural theory; visual culture studies.

Diedrich Diederichsen
Diedrich Diederichsen is Professor for Theory, Practice and Communication of Contemporary Art at the Academy of Fine Art in Vienna, Austria. He is one of the most incisive and versatile critics working in the West today. Diederichsen was was editor of two music magazines in the 1980s ("Sounds,” Hamburg; "Spex,” Cologne). He has taught at several academies in Germany,  Austria and the US, in the fields of art history, musicology, theater studies and cultural studies. He was Professor for Cultural Theory at Merz Academy, Stuttgart from 1998 to 2006. Recent Publications include: "On Surplus Value (of Art),” Rotterdam/New York 2008; "Kritik des Auges,” Hamburg 2008; "Argument Son,” Dijon 2007; "Personas en loop,” Buenos Aires 2006; "Musikzimmer", Cologne 2005.

Astrid Wege
Astrid Wege is a curator and critic. Between 1995 and 1999 she was editor of  the influential German art magazine Texte Zur Kunst, arguably the foremost art criticism journal in Europe. Her articles, exhibitions and publications analyze art as a form of cultural criticism, whether in relation to feminism with her project Oh boy, it’s a girl! (1994), gender and science in Sex – Vom Wissen und Wünschens (2001-2002) or time and value in Ökonomien der Zeit (2002-2003).  She curated the exhibition “Resonances, or How One Reality can be Understood Through Another” in cooperation with the Jan van Eyck Academy, Maastricht, The Netherlands. Between 2003 and 2006 she was deputy director of Galerie im Taxispalais, Innsbruck, and co-curator of the first retrospective of Charlotte Posenenske, “Multiple exposure.”

Julian Stallabrass
Julian Stallabrass lectures in modern and contemporary art, at the Courtauld Institute of Art, UK; his interests political aspects of the globalized contemporary art world, postwar British art, the history of photography and new media art. Aside from his recent publications listed below, he is the author of Gargantua: Manufactured Mass Culture(1996); the co-editor of Ground Control: Technology and Utopia (1997), Occupational Hazard: Critical Writing on Recent British Art (1998), and Locus Solus, a book about the Newcastle (UK) based artist-led curatorial organization Locus+. He also writes art criticism for many publications including Tate, Photoworks, Art Monthly, and the New Statesman. In 2001 he curated an exhibition at Tate Britain entitled Art and Money Online. He curated the 2008 Brighton Photo Biennial. He is an editorial board member of Art History, New Left Review and Third Textand on the advisory board of the journal Visual Culture in Britain. His photography has been exhibited and published internationally.

Tim Griffin
Tim Griffin has been editor of Artforum International, one of the most widely read art magazines in the world since 2003. During that time he has written for the publication on numerous artists, including Chantal Akerman, Paul Chan, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Mary Heilmann, Philippe Parreno, Seth Price, Allen Ruppersberg, Haim Steinbach, Catherine Sullivan, and Kelley Walker, among others; and he has devoted special issues of the magazine to globalization, Minimalism, art and politics, the legacy of Land art, the rebuilding of New Orleans, and notions of the Commons, as well as to such figures as choreographer Michael Clark, philosopher Jacques Rancière, public intellectual Susan Sontag, and architect-designer Buckminster Fuller. Griffin's writing has also appeared in venues ranging from October to Vogue, and his essay on John Baldessari, "What do you do?," appears in the catalogue for the artist's retrospective that opened this autumn at Tate Modern in London.

Paul Gladston
Associate Professor of Critical theory and Visual Cultures at the University of Nottingham. For the last five years he has been seconded to the University of Nottingham Ningbo, China where he has been both Head of the Department of International Communications and Director of the Institute of Comparative Cultural Studies. He studied fine art at Edinburgh College of Art and Yale University before receiving an MA and PhD in critical theory from the University of Nottingham. His recent book length publications include Art History After Deconstruction (Magnolia, 2005) and China and Other Spaces (CCCP, 2009). Paul is a regular contributor to Yishu, the journal of contemporary Chinese art, and is currently preparing a monograph on the theory and practice of contemporary Chinese art for Reaktion press.



Introduction to Second CCAF Conference

After the first CCAF conference we received a criticism: the theme of the conference was too broad, it lacked a focus, therefore many problems were perfunctorily discussed. Professor James Elkins of SAIC proposed four new themes at the end of the conferences, and art criticism is one of them. Although discussion during the first conference touched on art criticism, it was inadequate due to the above reasons. Some Chinese scholars also expressed concerns regarding the conference theme, and hope changes will be made for the second conference.

In China, we understand that the art criticism is a weak point in the rapid development of Chinese contemporary art; it has many problems and some of them are urgent. Chinese contemporary art is comparatively young, however it appears that the tendency of Chinese contemporary art has been  becoming less critical recently as compared to its early years of development. The art criticism also appears more of praising achievement than providing critical thinking. Some problems are more practical and may have something to do with the commercialization of criticism which as I pointed out in the first conference introduction: "that under the seduction of money some critics are corrupted and criticism become the tool for the art market". And some problems may related with the government regulations and censorship on art, also the government offered institutionalization for the contemporary art. Other problems are theoretical in nature because of the fact that theory which the criticism of contemporary art based on was adopted from the West. Not to mention the dazzling terms and methodologies of art theory,  the translation of those terms and methodologies alone presents considerable difficulties; the same terms and methodologies are applied under different context of China and the West, and that often results misunderstanding, misleading and misjudging of contemporary art in the practice of art criticism.  

In the West, art criticism also is struggling; according to some scholars it is in crises and the situation has been like that for a long time. On the one hand, there are so many new art pieces produced regularly in  North America and Europe that challenge the current parameters of criticism. On the other hand, there is the enormous impact of mass culture, which makes serious art criticism increasingly invisible and render the critical judgment moot.

The theme of the second CCAF conference is: "What Happened to Art Criticism? ---Problems in Chinese and Western Art Criticism". In the conference, critics and scholars from the West and China will come together for the first time to discuss problems in art criticism. The problems of Chinese and Western art criticism are different but share some features. I believe this discussion will promote understanding of the nature of art criticism and contemporary art at a time of accelerating globalization.

Qigu Jiang in FL 2/18/2010  





Back to Home