“[W]hat Beauty in Oriental Art Means”

Asian Arts, Soft Diplomacy, and New Zealand Cultural Nationalism—The Loan Exhibition of Oriental Art, Christchurch, 1935

in Museum Worlds
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  • 1 Victoria University of Wellington james.beattie@vuw.ac.nz
  • 2 Victoria University of Wellington louise.stevenson@vuw.ac.nz
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Abstract

This article presents new historical research on Asian art—particularly Chinese art—in New Zealand through the examination of the content and reception of the Loan Exhibition of Oriental Art, which was held in Christchurch from May to June 1935. It situates the exhibition within the context of Depression-era New Zealand, examines the place of Chinese art, in particular, in the developing cultural nationalism of New Zealand of this period, and highlights the role of one local connoisseur in the making of the exhibition. Moreover, the article's focus on the southern hemisphere fills a gap in global histories of Chinese art exhibition in this period.

Contributor Notes

JAMES BEATTIE is a historian who works on environmental history, history of science and garden history, as well as art collecting. His latest edited book is (with Richard Bullen and Maria Galikowski) China in Australasia: Cultural Diplomacy and Chinese Arts since the Cold War. He is currently Associate Professor, Centre for Science in Society at Victoria University of Wellington. He has written and edited 12 books and over 70 papers. James edits the International Review of Environmental History, and co-edits two book series, Routledge Research on Gardens in History and Palgrave Studies in World Environmental History. He is also Senior Research Fellow, Faculty of Humanities, University of Johannesburg. Email: james.beattie@vuw.ac.nz

LOUISE STEVENSON is currently a Master's student in History at Victoria University of Wellington. She is currently working on the medical mission of the Canton Villages Mission in Canton, China. Email: louise.stevenson@vuw.ac.nz

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