Visual Resources Curator Yan Zhou has taught at Kenyon since 2006. He teaches courses on Asian art history with a particular emphasis on modern and contemporary Chinese art. His research focuses on Chinese contemporary art in the context of globalization and post-colonialism. He has published widely in Chinese scholarly journals and in English in such journals as Yishu: Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art.

Areas of Expertise

Modern and contemporary art, Chinese art history


2005 — Doctor of Philosophy from The Ohio State University

1995 — Master of Arts from The Ohio State University

1986 — Master of Fine Arts from China, Cntrl Academy Fine Arts

1982 — Bachelor of Philosophy from China, Sun Yat-sen University

Courses Recently Taught

At the time when China faced its largest challenge in history in terms of sovereignty, dignity and culture, its art experienced importation of Western forms and aesthetics. The two artistic traditions clashed, coexisted and were integrated. Chinese artists then attempted to infuse their art with the cultural identity of China. To understand the artistic impact of the West and China's reaction to it, we will investigate this journey from its beginning, the Opium Wars to 1949, when China moved forward from a feudal empire to a republican nation in a turbulent century. This counts toward the 200-level intermediate course requirement, the Asia place and the after 1800 time requirements for the major. Prerequisite: ARHS 111 or 114.

The year 1949 was a watershed moment in 20th-century Chinese art, with the founding of the People's Republic of China. Art, therefore, experienced dramatic changes from the 1950s to the present. In this course, we investigate the journey from ideologically oriented art to the art of the Cultural Revolution, and from the post-Mao period and the avant-garde movement to art in an era of urbanization in a global context. This counts toward the 200-level intermediate course requirement, the Asia place and the after 1800 time requirements for the major. Prerequisite: ARHS 111 or 114.

China has a painting tradition that spans thousands of years, using mainly brush and ink on silk or paper. As different subject matter (mountains and waters, flowers and birds, and human figures) and techniques (ink, color and brushwork based in conjunction with calligraphy) developed, the artists’ practice was guided by underlying aesthetics. Starting in the Tang Dynasty, landscape painting went from a mere backdrop to an independent subject, reaching a height of realistic detail in the Song Dynasty. Literati painting was established in the Yuan Dynasty as a protest, but it would form the mainstream of painting in the Ming Dynasty, ultimately becoming orthodoxy in the Qing Dynasty, during which eccentric artists tried to both break and yet revive the older tradition. This course investigates the history, cultural connotations and significance of Chinese painting in the landscape of world art. This counts toward the 200-level intermediate course requirement and the Asia place requirement for the major. Prerequisite: ARHS 111 or 114.

This seminar probes specific problems in modern European and contemporary art. Focusing upon a theme, artist or movement, the course provides a forum for the in-depth study of the methods of art historical research. Discussion of weekly readings, classroom presentations and research papers is required. This counts toward the after 1800 time requirement for the major. This course can be repeated up to two times for credit, so long as each covers different topics. Prerequisite: ARHS 111.