New Associate Curator of American Art Named at The Huntington

  • SAN MARINO, California
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  • September 02, 2021

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Yinshi Lerman-Tan. Photo: David Schlussel

The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens has announced the appointment of Yinshi Lerman-Tan as the new Bradford and Christine Mishler Associate Curator of American Art. Lerman-Tan, who currently is acting associate curator of American and European art at the San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA) and a postdoctoral fellow at Trinity University, will join The Huntington on Sept. 20.

“Yinshi brings to The Huntington a background of shaping narratives around collections by bringing older works into conversation with newer works and creating opportunities for fresh engagement and new perspectives,” said Dennis Carr, The Huntington’s Virginia Steele Scott Chief Curator of American Art. “Additionally, she brings the potential to further expand on the institution’s ongoing work in Asian art and culture. We welcome her strong voice in the field of Asian American art and her commitment as a tireless community builder and advocate for under-recognized artists.”

At San Antonio, where she has worked since 2019, Lerman-Tan recently co-curated the traveling exhibition “No Ocean Between Us: Art of Asian Diasporas in Latin America and the Caribbean,” an examination of how the experience of migration can shape an artist’s work. The exhibition, Lerman-Tan said, was meant to showcase the often-overlooked contributions of artists of Asian descent both in a U.S. and Latin American context. She also served as venue curator for “America’s Impressionism: Echoes of a Revolution” and curator for “This Is America,” a reinstallation of modern and contemporary galleries at SAMA, featuring such artists as Jeffrey Gibson, Edgar Heap of Birds, Faith Ringgold, and Dario Robleto. Lerman-Tan also taught Trinity University courses using SAMA’s collections.

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Lerman-Tan’s research explores, in part, how migration, identity, and inequity shape art. In an article on Sadakichi Hartmann, published in the spring 2021 issue of Panorama, Lerman-Tan follows the career of the influential but underrecognized Asian American art critic. A photography critic in the circle of renowned photographer Alfred Stieglitz, Hartmann was also one of the first historians of American art. Lerman-Tan examines how Hartmann’s experience as a mixed-race immigrant during the Asian exclusion period shaped his discourses about American art.

Lerman-Tan’s current research focuses on the hidden history of Disney’s Bambi through the contributions of Tyrus Wong and Felix Salten. Wong, a painter who immigrated as a child to the U.S. from China, pioneered the film’s groundbreaking art. Salten, a Jewish Austrian writer whose novel the film adapts, fled to Switzerland after Hitler banned his books. Lerman-Tan connects the film to Asian American art and modernism, as well as to global diaspora and World War II.

Lerman-Tan holds a Ph.D. in art history from Stanford University and a B.A. in American studies from Yale University. She completed her dissertation on still life painter John F. Peto as a fellow at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. At Stanford’s Cantor Arts Center, she curated “Blackboard,” an exhibition about art, education, and protest, and co-curated “Missing Persons.”

At The Huntington, Lerman-Tan will work with the chief curator of American art to help develop and curate exhibitions, advise on new art acquisitions, and secure loans, among other activities.

“I am thrilled to join The Huntington, a place I have long admired for how it builds connections across art, nature, archives, and community,” said Lerman-Tan. “In working with the remarkable collections, I look forward to expanding the bounds of American art, through interventions like highlighting understudied artists and centering the cultures of California and the Pacific Rim. As The Huntington is already re-imagining these collections, I am excited to help make American art relevant and alive for the museum’s diverse audiences.”

American Art at The Huntington

The Huntington’s American art collection features more than 14,000 works from the colonial period to the present. Works from the 18th century include paintings by John Singleton Copley, Benjamin West, and Gilbert Stuart, as well as decorative arts from New York, Philadelphia, and New England that provide insight into the artistic development and culture of early America.

The collection of 19th-century American art includes, among others, works by Raphaelle Peale, George Caleb Bingham, Eastman Johnson, Frederic Edwin Church, and Albert Bierstadt. The late 19th-century galleries feature paintings by John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt, and William Merritt Chase; furniture by Herter Brothers; and silver by Tiffany & Co. Highlights of important 19th-century American sculpture include work by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Chauncey Ives, Hiram Powers, Frederic Remington, and Harriet Hosmer’s monumental Zenobia in Chains.

The American art collection has a special emphasis on the Arts and Crafts Movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, displaying work by Charles Rohlfs, the Byrdcliffe Arts Colony, George Washington Maher, the Roycrofters, and Frank Lloyd Wright. The work of early 20th-century Pasadena architects Charles and Henry Greene is also prominently featured.

Among 20th-century works displayed are those by George Bellows, John Sloan, Agnes Pelton, Edward Hopper, Robert Motherwell, and Andy Warhol; also featured are works on paper by Grant Wood and Joseph Cornell; sculpture by Paul Manship, William Hunt Diederich, and Elie Nadelman; and collections of glass, silver, and ceramics.

The Jonathan and Karin Fielding Wing displays early American paintings, furniture, and works of decorative art from the Fieldings’ collection of 18th- and early 19th-century American art works. The Susan and Stephen Chandler Wing serves as a space for temporary exhibitions concentrating on American painting, decorative arts, and works on paper.

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