Far Eastern Art
The University had been interested in the Orient ever since President Angell had served as United States Minister to China in 1880-82. This interest was strengthened with the establishment of the Levi Barbour scholarships in 1917. In 1933, when the Detroit Institute of Arts discontinued the curatorship of Far Eastern art, the curator, Benjamin March (Ph.B. Chicago '22), came to the University to teach new courses in Far Eastern anthropology and art. He died in December, 1934, but 1935 saw the appointments of two men to carry on the work he had started. Mischa Titiev (Harvard '23, Ph.D. ibid. '35) came to teach anthropology, and James M. Plumer (Harvard '21, A.M. ibid. '37), who had been in Chinese government service, was appointed Lecturer on Far Eastern Art.
Introductory courses were offered in the art of India and China. The art of Japan and the art of Siam were taught in advanced courses. A regular course Page 1143was offered in Chinese ceramics, and in 1940 a graduate seminar entitled Our Pacific Heritage in Art was introduced.
The introductory courses were attended by fifteen to forty students a semester, with limited numbers admitted to advanced work. Special research has included investigations of early Chinese ceramics and of bronze mirrors, conducted both in Europe and in Ann Arbor under faculty research grants.
The quarters in Alumni Memorial Hall combine the facilities of seminar room, archeological study room, and office, and include a few exhibition cases. Frequent exhibitions have been held on the campus.
Oriental materials are made available to students in the School of Architecture and Design who are interested in techniques in the fields of painting, ceramics, textiles, or bronze casting.
Far Eastern art courses acceptable in the Oriental degree program were offered in three successive summer institutes of Far Eastern studies at Ann Arbor in 1937, 1938, and 1939. The attempt has been made not only to acquaint students with Far Eastern art but also to present it as documentary of an ancient culture and, contrary to the common aesthetic approach to art, to emphasize less the physical accomplishment and the sensory appeal of art than its meaning and metaphysical significance.