Kang Youwei's Aesthetic Theory, Practice, and Legacy


American Research in the Humanities in China


Fine Arts


My project explores Kang Youwei’s (1858-1927) aesthetic—its foundation, context, application, and impact. Besides being a major calligrapher and art collector, he wrote the most influential book on Chinese calligraphy in his day: Guang yizhou shuangji (Extended Paired Oars for the Boat of Art, first published in 1891 and reprinted 18 times by 1898). This project examines the fertile years after the Hundred Days Reform, when Kang diverted his activism to the cultural arena. His influence could be felt among painters, calligraphers, and art historians. While Kang's political career as a monarchist reformer has been the subject of numerous studies, this project takes a fresh look at his pivotal role in China’s modernization through the lens of art history.