Art Worlds: Making Artists and Audiences in Nineteenth-Century Shanghai

Roberta Wue
Art History
UC Irvine

The formation of a lively new art world in later nineteenth-century Shanghai was marked by new practices that were oriented towards a large and urban viewership and which recast the artist in the role of not only culture-maker, but also as celebrity, public figure and entrepreneur. As a crucial component of a Shanghai culture that placed a heavy premium on display and spectacle, the art world evolved formats, subjects and styles of art – and a public presence – that served a public fascinated by the popular, the fashionable and the diverting. The Shanghai art world also enhanced and enriched its relationship with a popular audience by participating in and exploiting the city’s burgeoning mass media, expanding its activities to venues such as the newspaper, the magazine and the illustrated book. It is these new relationships between artist, product and audience that the grantee explores in this account of the late Qing Shanghai art world, with a focus on the multiple stages – public and private – on which the Shanghai artist constantly packaged and presented him or herself to their diverse audiences.