Resources for Art Lovers
My bigger goal in building the online Hong Kong Art Archive was to write Hong Kong art into a larger narrative. And putting the lectures online is part of my effort to break down the walls, so places in the world that don’t have access to academic art history can get a comprehensive university lecture from me on modern art.
A comprehensive online archive of Hong Kong art and a 73-lecture online series on modern art from post-impressionism to the present day have been made available to the public thanks to the efforts of Professor David Clarke, who recently retired from the Department of Fine Arts.
The Hong Kong Art Archive (HKAA) was created 15 years ago and is regularly updated with new images, artist biographies and bibliographical information about writings on Hong Kong art.
“I became interested in Hong Kong art when it was going through a lot of exciting changes as a result of the pressures of the 1997 handover. There was no archive I could turn to so I decided to create one. This also created opportunities for my students to contribute,” he said.
“My bigger goal was to write Hong Kong art into a larger narrative. Most of what is written in art history is about Western art and although Chinese contemporary art has very much become a field of interest, a lot that is written leaves out Hong Kong.”
Through the HKAA, anyone in the world can learn about Hong Kong art, whether it is a graduate student in California, a scholar in Hong Kong, or an interested member of the public in Taiwan.
“You can’t go to a museum and see a comprehensive display of Hong Kong’s art history as you would elsewhere in the world. There is no display and no textbook, so it has to be online,” he said.
Professor Clarke and his team in the department use objective criteria to decide who to include in the archive, in particular whether an artist has been exhibited locally in a comprehensive way. The HKAA was updated most recently in April this year.
The lecture series is the flip side of that project because it focuses on the development of international art from the late 19th century to the present day. Professor Clarke conducted 73 lectures in 2015 and 2016 and recorded them in audio – copyright restrictions prevented the use of images but users can look them up online as they listen to the lectures.
“Putting the lectures online is part of my effort to break down the walls, so places in the world that don’t have access to academic art history can get a comprehensive university lecture from me on modern art,” he said.
Professor Clarke also has a third project in the works: he has taken photos of Hong Kong over the past 25 years to record the city in transition and hopes to create an accessible online archive of these, as well. Retirement from the University is by no means an end of his knowledge exchange work – he will continue to contribute to Hong Kong’s art history and art developments to benefit society.