Craig Clunas - Biography#

Craig Clunas is a historian of Chinese art and material culture. He earned his PhD in Mongol and Chinese Studies from SOAS, London, in 1983, and joined the staff of the Far Eastern Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London in 1979. He organized exhibitions, and published a number of path-breaking articles - on Chinese furniture, prints, watercolors –based on the collection of the museum, until he took up his first academic appointment at Sussex University in 1994. Thanks to his prolific output he was made a professor already three years later. In 2003 he moved to SOAS as the Percival David Professor of Chinese and East Asian Art, and finally took up the chair of art history at the University of Oxford in 2007, as the first scholar of Asian art to hold this position.

His training in a museum specializing in material culture shaped his academic stance towards Chinese art history. In his work, he questions orthodox approaches to the discipline that favoured the arts of the elite, stylistic/formal analyses, and Euro-American hierarchies of art genres, in which three-dimensional art works still are considered as minor arts. As a result, his numerous monographs, articles and book chapters each open up new ways of thinking about categories and concepts that had dominated the field. He combines new methodological ideas with thorough analyses of specific objects, gardens, paintings, while weaving into his elegant prose documentary and historical evidence.

The high regard he is held in the global scholarly community is reflected in the several translations of his books into Chinese, Japanese and Korean, and many republications in the USA. He is the second historian of Chinese art who was nominated as the prestigious Mellon Lecturer at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. since 1952.

Craig Clunas has supervised over twenty doctoral dissertations, raising a new generation of critical and innovative art historians that reaches well beyond his home institution.
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