Faculty Research Project

The Cityscape in Asia and Europe from the 15th century to modern times


From antiquity until the present day, the representation of urban landscapes has made multifarious appearances in diverse artistic media, from painting on panel, canvas, paper, and walls, to the graphic arts and the modern media of photography and video. The depiction of cityscapes is closely associated with the interpretation of urban communities on the one hand, and perceptions of the visual world on the other. As a consequence, city views can be expressed in symbolic form as archetypal patterns or depicted faithfully in topographically exact vedute or panoramic visions, with an infinite range of variations between these extremes.


This research project investigates the visual appearance of cities and towns in the fine arts from the late Gothic and early Renaissance periods up to modernity, both in Europe and during in the same periods in Asia. The project explores formal and iconographic aspects as well as the historical and cultural backgrounds of these representations.


As the topic favors a complementary approach, a deliberate focus will be placed on interdisciplinary discourse between various subject areas, such as the relationship between city and landscape, the topic of the ideal city, city representation and its aesthetic and iconic qualities, the interrelationship of city representation and descriptions of cities in written sources. Furthermore, the project is founded on the idea of stimulating cross-cultural dialogues, by simultaneously contrasting research projects on the phenomenon of cityscapes in Asia and Europe.


Research Team Members:

Shai-shu Tzeng, Candida Syndikus, Li-chiang Lin, Valentin Nussbaum, Miho Fukuda, Cheng-hua Wang


Questioning the Sacred in the Art and Architecture of the 20th and 21st Centuries


This project will compare both Western and Eastern artistic experiences towards the sacred. It aims to evaluate the critical relationships and positions occupied by sacral artistic representations within a modernity that has been considered by historians, including art and culture historians, as profoundly atheist since the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. There are numerous examples, however, which show that spirituality did not leave the field of art during the entire 20th century. On the contrary, artists and architects implied a dialogue with the sacred, in reaction against or by questioning or revitalizing its important traditions. The project will thus re-assess the paradoxical relationship between the sacred (or the spiritual) and modern or contemporary art and architecture. At the same time, it will extend this issue into the Eastern artistic context, thereby confronting the differences between the two cultures, but also identifying their points of convergence or common denominators.


Research Team Members: Shai-shu Tzeng, Su-liang Tseng, Candida Syndikus, Valentin Nussbaum

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