Chinese Paintings in American Cultural History

Americans have made efforts to collect Chinese paintings mainly by academically trained Asian art experts. One of the first places to emerge as the center for collecting after World War II was the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas city and the Cleveland Museum of Art. The second American museum that also built a great collection of Chinese paintings was led by Sherman Lee (1918-2008), a trained art historian who had served in the Pacific MFAA(Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives) division of the US Army. He also had worked as a curator at the Seattle Art Museum. Thanks to the pioneers, the attention to collect Chinese painting grew.

As time went by, the golden age of Chinese painting collecting in America began to wane in the 1990s when Christie’s auction house stopped holding dedicated sales of Chinese paintings in its New York galleries. Many great Chinese paintings had been acquired by museums as well. In spite of declining opportunities of private collecting, Chinese paintings are becoming an integral part of American cultural history due to the increased number of Chinese Americans and growing Chinese influences in America.

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