New Associate Curator of American Art appointed to Huntington


Yinshi Lerman Tan. Photo: David Schlüssel

The Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens have announced the appointment of Yinshi Lerman-Tan as Bradford and Christine Mishler’s new associate curator for American Art. Lerman-Tan, who is currently Acting Associate Curator of American and European Art at the San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA) and Postdoctoral Fellow at Trinity University, will join The Huntington on September 20.

“Yinshi brings to The Huntington an experience shaping the narratives around collections by conversing older works with newer works and creating opportunities for new engagement and new perspectives,” said Dennis Carr , Chief Curator of American Art Virginia Steele Scott of The Huntington. “In addition, it brings the potential to further develop the institution’s ongoing work in Asian art and culture. We welcome his strong voice in Asian-American art and his commitment as a tireless community builder and advocate for under-recognized artists.

In San Antonio, where she has worked since 2019, Lerman-Tan recently co-hosted 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, said Lerman-Tan, was intended to showcase the often overlooked contributions of artists of Asian descent in both an American and Latin American context. She was also curator for “America’s Impressionism: Echoes of a Revolution” and curator for “This Is America,” a modern and contemporary gallery relocation at SAMA, featuring artists such as Jeffrey Gibson, Edgar Heap of Birds, Faith Ringgold, and Dario Robleto. Lerman-Tan has also taught courses at Trinity University using the SAMA collections.

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 little-known Asian-American art critic. A photographic critic in the entourage of the famous photographer Alfred Stieglitz, Hartmann was also one of the first American art historians. Lerman-Tan examines how Hartmann’s experience as a Métis immigrant during the period of Asian exclusion shaped his discourses on American art.

Lerman-Tan’s current research focuses on Disney’s hidden story Bambi thanks to contributions from Tyrus Wong and Felix Salten. Wong, a painter who immigrated as a child to the United States from China, pioneered the revolutionary art of film. Salten, an Austrian Jewish writer whose novel is adapted by the film, fled to Switzerland after Hitler banned his books. Lerman-Tan connects the film to Asian American art and modernism, as well as to the global Diaspora and World War II.

Lerman-Tan holds a doctorate. in Art History from Stanford University and a BA in American Studies from Yale University. She completed her dissertation on the still life painter John F. Peto as a member of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. At Stanford’s Cantor Arts Center, she organized “Blackboard”, an exhibition on art, education and protest, and co-organized “Missing Persons”.

At The Huntington, Lerman-Tan will work with America’s Chief Art Curator to help develop and organize exhibitions, advise on new art acquisitions and secure loans, among other activities.

“I am delighted to join The Huntington, a place that I have long admired for the way it makes connections between art, nature, archives and community,” said Lerman-Tan. “In working with the remarkable collections, I look forward to expanding the boundaries of American art, through interventions such as showcasing little-studied artists and centering cultures of California and the Pacific. As The Huntington is already reinventing these collections, I am delighted to help make American art relevant and alive for the museum’s diverse audiences.

American Art at the Huntington

The Huntington’s collection of American art includes more than 14,000 works from the colonial period to the present day. 18th-century works 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 the Primitive America.

The collection of 19th century American art includes works by Raphaelle Peale, George Caleb Bingham, Eastman Johnson, Frederic Edwin Church and Albert Bierstadt, among others. The late 19th century galleries feature paintings by John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt, and William Merritt Chase; furniture from 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 the Harriet Hosmer monumental Chained Zenobia.

The American Art Collection places particular emphasis on the Arts and Crafts movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, featuring works 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 highlighted.

Among the 20th century works on display are those of George Bellows, John Sloan, Agnes Pelton, Edward Hopper, Robert Motherwell and Andy Warhol; also on display 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 features antique American paintings, furniture, and decorative artwork from the Fieldings Collection of 18th and early 19th-century American artwork. The Susan and Stephen Chandler Wing serves as a space for temporary exhibitions focusing on American painting, decorative arts and works on paper.

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