Dr. Ning Yao

Academic Collaborator, Project "Bilderfahrzeuge"

Ning Yao holds a doctorate in East Asian Art History from Heidelberg University (2013) and is currently Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin in the department Gerhard Wolf. Her research focuses on the creation, transmission and appropriation of East Asian incense burners ("Bilderfahrzeuge. Aby Warburg's Legacy and the Future of Iconology"). 

From 2016 to 2018 she was a CAHIM ("Connecting Art Histories in the Museum") postdoctoral fellow, with a research project focused on Chinese portraiture. During this time, she was also the curatorial and project assistant of the exhibition "Faces of China: Portrait Painting of the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368–1912)" in Berlin (October 2017–January 2018). Prior to joining the CAHIM fellowship program, she was an associate lecturer for Chinese art history at Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main. From 2013 to 2014 she was a postdoc research fellow at the Internationales Kolleg für Geisteswissenschaftliche Forschung (IKGF) "Fate, Freedom and Prognostication. Strategies for Coping with the Future in East Asia and Europe" at Erlangen-Nürnberg University conducting the project "Changing Fate: Visual Culture in the Ming and Early-Qing China", where she also taught Chinese art history. 

Prior to starting her PhD studies in 2008, Ning Yao was a lecturer for Chinese language and culture at the Beijing Foreign Studies University, the Charles University in Prague, Tübingen University, and Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main for over ten years. She obtained her first BA in German Studies from Xi'an Foreign Languages University, a second BA in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language from Beijing Language and Culture University, and a Magister in Sinology and Art History from Tübingen University.

Ning Yao has been awarded the 2018 Museum Network Fellowship from the National Museum of Korea, the 2012 Graduate Student Best Paper prize from the Association for Asian Studies (AAS) for a paper entitled "Representing Absence and Death:  Wu Li's (1632-1718) Handscroll Remembering the Past at the Xingfu Chapel (1672)", the Heinz-Götze scholarship for Chinese Art History for research conducted at the Beijing Palace Museum, Shanghai Museum and Nanjing Museum in 2011, and the translation grant from the European Research Council in 1999 (together with Gabriel García-Noblejas).

  • East Asian painting and Chinese calligraphy
  • Divination and popular religions in China
  • Representation and implication of death and memory
  • East Asian incense burners and vessels


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