Heping Liu

Professor Heping Liu head shot
(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 (1966-1976). My study of Chinese and Asian art history began at Berkeley with Professor James Cahill (1926-2014), whose impact on me as a teacher-scholar has been enormous. 

My current research focuses on the intersection of art, science and technology, commerce and material culture in 10th-12th-century China. I have also long been intrigued by Su Shi's (1037-1101) literati theory of poetry in painting and painting in poetry. Like each verse, each image speaks to us in its distinct voice and we need to learn how to listen and hear this silent sound. Moreover, an image often offers evidence that is absent in a text. My research has been recognized with a number of awards, including a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship and an American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship.

I teach a global art history survey with colleagues. My other courses include Asian art and architecture, Japanese art and architecture, Chinese art and architecture, theories and practices of Chinese painting, 20th-century Chinese art, and seminars on advanced topics tied to my research, such as the Song imperial painting academy and East Asian landscape and poetic painting. One of my most gratifying teaching experiences is to make students experience works of art first-hand through hands-on workshops, visits to the Davis Museum, and fieldtrips to museums and galleries in the Boston-New York area.

I have actively engaged in collecting, exhibiting, and teaching Chinese and Asian art at the Davis and the Jewett Art Gallery: Empathic Economics: The Work of Lee Mingwei (2000); Chinese Folk Art: Papercutting (2001); Chongqing Chilies: The American Tour (2004); Ukiyo-e: The Floating World of Edo Japan (2005); The 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); the recent major reinstallation of the Asian art gallery at the Davis (2014-16), among others.

I was privileged to serve 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. PDF available here.

"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.

"評《大觀——北宋書畫特展》,林品樺譯,《故宮文物月刊》(The National Palace Museum Monthly of Chinese Art),第299期(2008年2月),頁110-123." PDF available here.

“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.

"Anne de Coursey Clapp (1928-2013)," Orientations 46, no. 1 (Jan/Feb. 2015): 108-110. PDF available here.

挽舟人色:徐鉉、郭忠恕、王禹偁、蘇軾流放視角下的 <江行初 <雪霽江行> (Towing Boats along the River: The Making of the Landscape of Exile as Seen in Two 10th-Century Scroll Paintings), 《浙江大學藝術與考古研究 · 特輯 I: 宋畫國際研討會論文集》(Zhejiang University Journal of Art and Archaeology Supplementum I:  Proceedings of the International Conference on Song Painting), edited by Peter C. Sturman and Heping Liu (Hangzhou: Zhejiang University Press, 2017), 504-565. PDF available here.