Ilham Public Lecture presents Studying and Writing Histories of Art: A Beginning by eminent art historian T.K. Sabapathy who researches and publishes on modern art and artists in Southeast Asia and whose publications mark milestones for developing histories of art in the region. He is currently an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Architecture, the National University of Singapore, where he teaches modules in the history of art.
The lecture series is presented in collaboration with the Visual Art Department, Cultural Centre, University of Malaya. Admission is free and on a first come first served basis.
In 1954 an academic appointment was made in the then University of Malaya (located in Singapore) for teaching the history of art to undergraduates. Such a course was considered as related to the study of history, literature, languages and architecture; and in gaining knowledge for seeing and representing the world. It marked a beginning for the study of the history of art in the then Malaya.
Michael Sullivan was appointed as lecturer in History of Art. When assuming his teaching position, he also established a museum of art in the university, the very first such a museum in Malaya. Its aim was to collect and display art works and artifacts from Southeast Asia (primarily), China and India. The museum was envisaged as broadening the scope for teaching. Sullivan had a dual role, namely: a teacher of history of art and a curator. Part of this museum’s collection is presently housed in Muzium Seni Asia in the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur.
Who was Sullivan? What and how did he teach? What did he write on?
This lecture by T.K.Sabapathy, a student of Sullivan, deals with his teacher’s tenure in the university from 1954-1960. It describes Sullivan’s capacities and impact as a teacher, discusses his position as a curator of art, assesses his research and writing on art in Southeast Asia, and brings to light his complicated and difficult involvement in both modern art and the great artistic traditions in Asia. In these respects, Sullivan inaugurated the academic study of art and its histories in Malaya/Singapore. It marked a beginning.
The illustrated lecture will feature both personal recollections, and thoughts on Sullivan as a historian of art, curator, educator and writer.