Heping Liu

Heping Liuhliu@wellesley.edu
(781) 283-3371
B.A., Guangzhou Institute of Foreign Languages (China); M.A., Southern Methodist University; M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D., Yale University

Heping Liu

Associate Professor of Art

Asian art historian and specialist in Chinese painting of the Song dynasty (960-1279).

Heping LiuI grew up in China and was among the first college students after Mao's Cultural Revolution (1966-76). My study of Chinese art history began at Berkeley with Professor James Cahill (1926-2014), whose impact on me as scholar-teacher has been enormous. 

My research focuses on painting and society in 10th-11th century China. Fieldwork along the Silk Road, the Yellow River and the Grand Canal and from archaeological sites to museum exhibitions and archives has always inspired and challenged me. I take delight in reading both painted images and literary texts and in investigating their relationship by examining how each image/text speaks to us in its distinct voice and how the painting can offer evidence that is absent in the writing. I try to contextualize art in two ways: in light of artistic tradition and convention and as a historicized moment tied to social, political and cultural process. My research has been recognized with the awards of an American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship.

I teach a global art history survey (ARTH 100) with colleagues. My other courses include Asian art and architecture, Japanese art and architecture, Chinese art and architecture, Chinese painting, 20th-century Chinese art, and seminars on advanced topics closely tied to my research, such as Song imperial painting academy, landscape and poetic painting of East Asia, all centering on two noble truths of art history: that artistic forms can speak and that style has meaning. One of my most gratifying teaching experiences is to make students experience works of art first-hand by working with them at the Davis Museum and on fieldtrips to museums and galleries in the Boston-New York area.

I was actively involved in and responsible for several Chinese and Asian art exhibits at the Davis Museum and the Jewett Gallery: Empathic Economics: The Work of Lee Mingwei (2000), Chinese Folk Art: Papercutting (2001), Chongqing Chilies: The American Tour (2004), Circles of Healing, Circles of Peace (2005), Ukiyo-e: The Floating World of Edo Japan (2005), Art of China, Japan, and Korea from the Davis Museum Collection (2006), On the Edge: Contemporary Chinese Artists Encounter the West (2006), Xu Bing’s “Any Questions?” Installation (2006), Art from the Native Soil: Chinese Peasant Paintings and Prints from Huxian, Jinshan and Qijiang (2008), and Five Watercolors by Madame Chiang Kai-shek ’17 (2012). I served as chair of the Art Department in 2006-2009.

Selected Publications


The Water-Mill and Northern Song Imperial Patronage of Art, Commerce, and Science.” Art Bulletin 84, no. 4 (December 2002): 565-595. Available via JSTOR

“Empress Liu’s Icon of Maitreya: Portraiture and Privacy at the Early Song Court.” Artibus Asiae 63, no 2 (2003): 129-190. Available via JSTOR.

“Juecheng: An Indian Buddhist Monk Painter in the Early Eleventh-Century Chinese Court.” Journal of Inner Asian Art and Archaeology 2 (2007): 95-116. Available via Metapress.

"Review of Grand View: A Special Exhibition of Northern Song Painting and Calligraphy at the National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan, December 25, 2006-March 25, 2007." Available via caa.reviews.

“從風格演化到王安石變法:《清明上河圖》與十一世紀北宋宮廷繪畫” ,故宮博物院編《清明上河圖新論》(北京:故宮出版社, 2011),頁78-94。

“Picturing Yu Controlling the Flood: Technology, Ecology, and Emperorship in Northern Song China,” in Cultures of Knowledge: Technology in Chinese History, ed. Dagmar Schäfer (Leiden: Brill, 2012), 91-126. Preview available via Google Books.