Winnie Wong

Associate Professor

Head Undergraduate Advisor

History of Art

PhD (History, Theory, and Criticism), MIT

Image of Winnie Wong


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Research Interests

Labor and Creativity
Modern and Contemporary Art
Art and Law
China Studies

My research is concerned with the history and present of artistic authorship, with a focus on interactions between China and the West. My theoretical interests revolve around the critical distinctions of high and low, true and fake, art and commodity, originality and imitation, and, conceptual and manual labor, and thus my work focuses on objects and practices at the boundary of these categories. My first book, Van Gogh On Demand: China and the Readymade (U of Chicago Press 2014, Joseph Levenson Book Prize 2015), is a study of Dafen village, China, the world’s largest production center for oil-on-canvas painting. The book examines conceptual art, propaganda, skill, craft and performance in Dafen, and evaluates the postmodern valorization of creativity and appropriation in globalist artistic discourses. I am currently working on a second monograph on export painting in the period of world maritime trade centered in Guangzhou from 1760 to 1842. This book will situate the work of anonymous Canton painters within the larger Qing engagement with European painting. I recently coedited with Jing Wang a special issue of positions: asia critique on visual culture and digital dissent (CELJ 2015 Best Special Issue Award), and, with Mary Ann O’Donnell and Jonathan Bach, a multidisciplinary volume on the urban history and anthropology of Shenzhen, entitled Learning from Shenzhen: China’s Post-Mao Experiment from Special Zone to Model City (U of Chicago Press, February 2017). In Fall 2015, I co-covened with Martha Buskirk, an exploratory workshop at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study on new intersections of contemporary art and intellectual property law. Recently I have written on genomic sequencing and scientific authorship, on the fantasy of Chinese architectural copying, and a conjectural history connecting three Chinese visitors to eighteenth-century London. 
I teach undergraduate courses on Rhetorical Interpretation, Art and Authorship, Visual Rhetoric, Rhetoric of Performance, and Rhetorical Places, and graduate courses in the Rhetoric of the Image. Topics I have taught include “Theory of the Copy,” “China in the Western Imagination,” and “The Factory (Before Marx and After Warhol).” In the Spring of 2015, I co-taught with Margaret Crawford the Global Urban Humanities research studio documented on this website: Art+Village+City in the Pearl River Delta. Work from the studio was exhibited at the Shanghai Biennale 2015 and at Wurster Hall on Berkeley campus.
Prior to joining the Rhetoric department, I did my postdoctoral work as a Junior Fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows, and obtained my PhD from the History, Theory and Criticism of Architecture and Art program at MIT.



Edited Volumes

Reconsidering the 2006 MIT Visualizing Cultures Controversy: National Histories, Visual Cultures, and Digital Dissent, co-edited with Jing Wang, positions: asia critique, February 2015. (Awarded CELJ Best Special Issue 2015). (link)

Learning from Shenzhen: China’s Post-Mao Experiment from Special Zone to Urban Model, co-edited with Mary Ann O’Donnell and Jonathan Bach (University of Chicago Press: February 2017). (link)


“Not Exactly the Same: On the Fantasy of Chinese Architectural Copies,” ed. A. Lawrence and A. Miljacki, in Terms of Appropriation: Modern Architecture and Global Exchange (London: Routledge), January 2018. (pdf)

“Lover of the Strange, Sympathizer of the Rude, Barbarianologist of the Farthest Peripheries,” Conjectures series ed. D Graham Burnett, The Public Domain Review, July 2017. (link)

“Speculative Authorship and the City of Fakes,” in “New Media, New Publics?” Current Anthropology 58:S15, Feb 2017. (link)

“Time is Money, Efficiency is Life,” in “Reflections on Durational Art,” Representations, 136:1, Fall 2016. (link)

“Lantern Slide Moments and the Taught Subject, 1906 and 2006,” positions: asia critique, February 2015. (pdf)

“The Panda Man and the Anti-Counterfeiting Hero: Art, Activism, and Appropriation in Contemporary China,” Journal of Visual Culture, April 2012. (pdf)

“Ambience as Commodity: Experience Design and the Legal Expansion of ‘Trade Dress,'” Future Anterior, May 2012. (pdf)

“The Unskilled Migrant,” Third Text Asia, Spring 2010.  

“Framed Authors: Photography and Conceptual Art From Dafen Village,” Yishu: Journal of Chinese Contemporary Art, July 2008.

Occasional Pieces

“Genius from Nowhere, Postcards from Matthew Wong,” in Matthew Wong, Postcards, Karma Books, NY, 2020. (pdf)

“On Smallness in Hong Kong Art,” M+ Museum of Visual Culture, Podium, No. 1. (link)

“Arresting Development: Winnie Wong on China’s Museum Boom,” Artforum, Nov 2015. (pdf)

“On Architectural Copies,” Artforum, March 2014. (pdf)

Review: Weiwei-isms by Ai Weiwei, The China Journal, 71, January 2014.

“New Work: Liu Ding,” Art World, June/July 2009.

“Die Geschichte von Big Beard” and “Die Geschichte von Peng Bide,” Kinaland, ed. Gesine Danckwart, trans. Anja Goette, Blumenbar Verlag 2009.

“Xiao Xiong: Enter and Exit,” Thresholds 34, Fall 2007. (pdf)

The Catalog by Dung Kai-Cheung,” exh. cat. Branded and On Display, Krannert Art Museum, 2006. (pdf)

“The Problem Solvers/Cine va Rezolva Problemele?,” OMaGiu, ed. and trans. Mihnea Mircan, Fall 2006.


“Until You See The Original Again: Lam Qua, Chinese Export Artist,” Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, April 28, 2018.

 “Tales, Fables and Anecdotes: Narrating Anonymity in Chinese Art,” University of Sydney, April 26, 2018.

 “Artists of the Canton Port,” San Francisco Asian Art Museum, March 30, 2018

 “Speculative Authorship and the City of Fakes”

History, Theory, Experiments Lab, California College of Arts, November 10, 2017.
Global Urban Humanities Colloquium, UC Berkeley, November 8, 2017.
School of Humanities and Social Sciences, New York University, February 19, 2017.

“Van Gogh on Demand,” Rijksmuseum and Leiden University, November 26, 2016.

 “Lover of the Strange, Sympathizer of the Rude” 
Locating the Viewer in Art Writing, College Art Association, New York Feb 18, 2017.
        Shared Taste, Museum Volkenkunde and Leiden University, November 28, 2016.       

        What History Could Have Been2, Princeton University and the New School, Feb. 25-26, 2016

 “Art+Village+City,” Ethnography/Pedagogy, Anthropology, UC Irvine, April 22, 2016.

“Pleased With Their Own Resemblance: Patrons of Canton Trade Paintings,” History of Art and Visual Culture, UC Santa Cruz, October 21, 2015.

“Genealogies of Chinese Export Art and the Origins of the Copy”
   Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan, February 17, 2015.

   Dept. of Art and Art History, Lewis and Clark College, February 20, 2015.

“Speculative Authorship and the City of Fakes”
     New Publics, New Media, Wenner-Gren Foundation, Sintra, Portugal, March 14, 2015.

    Center for Contemporary Theory, University of Chicago, March 31, 2015.

“Painting the Division of Labor (and the Division of Labor in Painting),” American Asian Studies Association, Chicago, March 27, 2015.

“The Global Supply Chain of Readymade Dreams”

    Center for Contemporary Theory, April 1, 2015.

“Van Gogh on Demand,” Townsend Center for the Humanities, April 22, 2015.

“Biocommunism: Preliminary Rumors on Genomics Research in Shenzhen, China,” Trust, Princeton University, November 14, 2014.

“Van Gogh on Demand,” Art History Undergraduate Association, May 8, 2014

“Van Gogh On Demand: Valorizing the Copy in the Age of China,” keynote, Reproducing the Original,  Art History Department, University of Oregon, Eugene, April 17, 2014.

Response, Joseph Borocz, “Intimate Internationalism: The Performing Arts Ensemble of the Hungarian People’s Army Visits China in the Autumn of 1956,” Socialist Internationalism: Cold War Legacies, UC Berkeley, April 11, 2014.

“In a Van Gogh Workshop: The Craft of Signature Authorship,” The Art of Appropriation, University of California, Davis, April 2, 2014.

“12 Frames per Hour, 15 Square Inches per Day: The Lives of Artists in Cameron Gray, Inc.,” Mills College of Art, April 1, 2014.

“Artists, Censors, Wives,” in conversation with Jane Debevoise, UC Berkeley, March 19, 2014.

“Van Gogh on Demand,” Townsend Discovery Fellows, March 5, 2014.

“Other Birds, Other Flowers: On Early Natural History Painting in Canton,” World History Association meeting, UC Berkeley, March 2, 2014.

“12 Frames per Hour, 15 Square Inches per Day: The Lives of Artists in Cameron Gray, Inc.,” Living Time, UC Berkeley, February 21, 2014.



Best Special Issue Award, CELJ (2016)
Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Program in China Studies Workshop Grant (2015)
ACLS Fellowship, American Council of Learned Societies (2015)
Joseph Levenson Book Prize (post-1900), Association of Asian Studies (2015)
Exploratory Seminar and Workshop Grant, Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study (2015)
Humanities Research Fellowship, University of California, Berkeley (2015)
UC Regents’ Junior Faculty Fellowship, University of California, Berkeley (2014)
William F. Milton Fund Research Grant, Harvard University (2012)
Junior Fellow, Harvard Society of Fellows (2010-2013)
ACLS/Mellon Dissertation Completion Fellowship, American Council of Learned Societies (2010)
International Dissertation Research Fellowship, Social Science Research Council (2009)
Mellon Dissertation Fellowship in the Humanities in Original Sources, Council for Library and Information Resources (2008)
Pre-Dissertation Fellowship for International Collaboration, Social Science Research Council (2006)
Presidential Fellowship, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2005)
Thesis Award, Department of Architecture, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2002)
Senior Fellowship, Dartmouth College (2000)