March 10, 2010

Leading the Way by Irene Poon

BOOK #: 11
CHALLENGES:
Art History Challenge, 100+ Challenge, Countdown Challenge, Support Your Local Library
PUBLISHER: (c) 2001 Gordon College, Wenham, Massachusetts
GENRE: Art, Biography, Nonfiction, Art History
FORMAT/PAGES: Paperback/108
RATING: 4 Stars

Leading the Way is an art history book that anyone could get into.

It is a biographical look at Asian American artists spanning the years from 1930 to 1970. It is a book that evolved from Irene Poon's exhibition "With New Eyes: Toward an Asian American Art History in the West" that she co-curated in 1993 for the Art Department Gallery at San Francisco State University. When the exhibition drew 5,000 people from the campus and community and garnered international media coverage, Poon knew she was not through highlighting Asian American art history for the world.

Year of the Dragon, 1952 by Charles Wong
Gelatin silver print


Through this book the reader is introduced to 25 Asian American artists through photographical and biographical sketches. There is also a historical essay entitled The Way Asian Americans Came and Survived by Lorraine Dong, Ph.D., a professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State that highlights the struggles that Asians went through from 1521 with Ferdinand Magellan through World War II and into the 21st century.

Hang Ah Tearoom c. 1940s by Nanying Stella Wong
Watercolor on Paper


The photographs of the artists that Irene captured are simple but also capture the artist's personalities. The biographical sketches are all less than a page but they are also encompassing. They not only tell of the artists' work, but also of their history, their educations, their families, their philanthropy, their struggles, their victories. I enjoyed reading about each of the artists and looking through the portfolio of their work included in the back of the book. From the abstractness of Tseng Yuho's Embrace Within, to the gelatin silver print Year of the Dragon by Charles Wong, to the moulded rubber/hand painted mask of Wah Ming Chang's King and I Mask.


King and I Mask, 1956 by Wah Ming Chang
moulded rubber/hand painted surface and applied decoration
Mask used in the Ballet Performance from the Movie "The King and I"

I recommend this short book to anyone with any interest in Asian American art or art history in general.

7 comments:

  1. I love Asian artwork, and anything inspired by the Asian culture. This looks like a book I could get into!

    Allison
    Well-Read Reviews

    ReplyDelete
  2. Some of those sketches look really beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love the pictures you've posted! I don't know much about Asian art so I should really give this a try.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Cool! I'm so happy you finally found an art history book that you liked. :) The pictures look gorgeous.

    ReplyDelete
  5. It looks like there is a rich variety of artwork in this book. Thank you for sharing it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Allison- I love Asian art. I thought it was a good look at a broad range of artists.

    Amanda- I think so too!

    jennysbooks- If you want to just get a brief overview of some of the art, this is a good place to start.

    heidenkind- Thanks! I had checked out another one from the library but didn't get to it. I need to go find some more!

    Stephanie- There really is a good variety. They had everything from ink and paper to beautiful ceramic bowls.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi, Rebecca! Have you had a chance to take a look at your Scene of the Blog?

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for visiting! Leave a comment and share your thoughts with me!