Winnie Wong

Associate Professor


PhD (History, Theory, and Criticism), MIT

Image of Winnie Wong


7309 Dwinelle

Tuesdays, 2-3pm via Zoom; Fridays, 11am-12pm in-person




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 (University 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 is an ethnography of the encounters between artisanal painters and global conceptual artists. I am currently working on Nameless Image, an exploration of names, labor, art and science, in the export art of Guangzhou (Canton), circa 1730 to 1842, when it was the sole port of trade between China and Europe. 

With Mary Ann O’Donnell and Jonathan Bach, I co-edited Learning from Shenzhen: China’s Post-Mao Experiment from Special Zone to Model City (University of Chicago Press, February 2017). With Jing Wang, I co-edited a special issue of positions: asia critique on visual culture and digital dissent (CELJ 2015 Best Special Issue Award). Since 2015, with Amy Adler, Peter Karol, and Martha Buskirk, I have organized several workshops on art and law. I have active several active collaborations with other colleagues on the early 19th-century diary of the Chinese literatus Xie Lansheng, and on the mid-18th century natural history projects of the tea merchant John Bradby Blake and the trade painter Mak Sau in Guangzhou. Recently I have written on Smallness in Hong Kong Art, on forgery in the Library, short stories in response to Arne de Boever’s Against Aesthetic Exceptionalism, and essays on the Chinese-Canadian painter Matthew Wong.

I teach undergraduate courses on visual culture, visual rhetoric and interpretation, including classes on the Theory of the Copy, the writings of Samuel Delany and Marilyn Hacker, and the bureaucracy of the institutions to which my students are subject. I have recently taught graduate seminars on the Factory, Art/Science, Chinese Contemporary Art, and Pricelessness. In the Spring of 2015, I co-taught with Margaret Crawford the research studio Art+Village+City in the Pearl River Delta.

Prior to joining the Rhetoric department, I was a senior fellow of Dartmouth College, obtained my Master’s of Science and PhD from the History, Theory and Criticism of Architecture and Art program at MIT, and was a Junior Fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows. 


Van Gogh on Demand: China and the Readymade (University of Chicago Press, 2014).
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. (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), 2017. (link)

PortabilityThresholds 34, (MIT: Department of Architecture), Fall 2007. (link)


“‘A Sort of Picture or Image of my Self”: Amoy Chin Qua’s Almost Ancestral Portrait of Joseph Collet,” in eds. Bellion and Smentek, Material Cultures of the Eighteenth Century, Bloomsbury 2023, 15-40. (link)

“Imperfect Facsimiles: The Library and the Museum,” Law & Literature, 2021. (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

“The Colour of Colour,” Matthew Wong: Blue View (Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario), 2021. (pdf)

“On the Mountain of the Hermits: ‘The Becoming of Feathered Beings,” Critical Times 4:2, 2021. (link)

“Tales from Dafen,” Collateral: Online Journal for Close Cultural Reading, Cluster 29: Taking Exception to Autonomy: On Arne De Boever’s Against Aesthetic Exceptionalism. (link)

“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.


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)