Asian-American Acquisitions at the Huntington

Chao-Chen Yang, Apprehension, about 1940. The Huntington, gift of Edgar Yang

The Huntington's Verso blog surveys recent acquisitions of Asian-American art. Among them are a group of photographs by Chao-Chen Yang (1910-1969). Yang's pictures are imaginary film stills, 40 years before Cindy Sherman. It's known that the artist apprenticed for RKO Pictures and contemplated a career in the movies. Instead, he served as a diplomat for Chiang Kai-shek and an advocate for Chinese immigrants. Yang's photographs have only recently received wide attention. Apprehension made the cover of Artforum in 2021, with essay by Joan Kee.

Dominique Fung, Sans Les Mains, 2022. The Huntington, purchased with funds from Dominic and Ellen Ng. Photo by Linnea Stephan

Canadian artist Dominique Fung's Sans Les Mains is an everything/everywhere burlesque of Manet, 20th-century women Surrealists, and the objectification of Asian women. It was shown at Jeffrey Deitch's L.A. space in spring 2022.

Kenjiro Nomura, Puget Sound, 1947. The Huntington, gift of Robert Hori. Photo by Linnea Stephan
Robert Hori has donated three paintings by Japanese-American modernist Kenjiro Nomura, active in Seattle. Puget Sound is said to be the first painting Nomura produced after his family's wartime incarceration and his wife's suicide. It shows a shift towards abstraction from his prewar work.
Chiura Obata, Full Moon, Pasadena, California, 1930. The Huntington, Gift of the Obata Family
This view of Pasadena's Colorado Street Bridge is a unique watercolor, preparatory to a woodblock print. Chiura Obata's estate has given the Huntington a set of 122 printed impressions documenting the evolution of the final printed image. 
Toshio Aoki, untitled (Butterfly Goddess), about 1890. The Huntington, gift of Robert Hori

Toshio Aoki (1854-1912) was perhaps the first Asian-American artist to achieve commercial success and critical recognition. In Pasadena he supplied artworks for many of Greene and Greene's homes.  His watercolors blend Japanese themes with elements of horror vacui and Mauve Decade Symbolism. In recent years LACMA and Dartmouth's Hood Museum have also acquired Aoki watercolors.


I hope LA-based museums allow looky-loos like me access to their photography, drawings and prints departments by appt.
I'd spend all day perusing.
I love Chao-Chen Yang's rich "Apprehension," ca. 1940. I'd want to view, for example, all the chlorobromide prints for contrast and comparison. I don't know the chlorobromide technology.