Separating Sheep from Goats
Sherman E. Lee and Chinese Art Collecting in Postwar America
University of California Press 2018
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in ArtNew Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in BiographyNew Books in East Asian StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network November 9, 2019 Ricarda Brosch
Noelle Giuffrida’s book, Separating Sheep from Goats: Sherman E. Lee and Chinese Art Collecting in Postwar America (University of California Press, 2018), tells the history of collecting and exhibiting Chinese art through the story of renowned curator and museum director Sherman E. Lee (1918-2008). This book provides one of the first forays into post-war North American collecting and exhibiting, carefully reconstructing the rise of the USA as the scholarly hub on Chinese art, in many ways displacing Europe’s dominance in this area. As such, Separating Sheep from Goats, contributes hugely to the historiography of the field of East Asian art and gives sense of individuals and their contributions, rather than institutions. Relying on extensive archival research, Noelle Giuffrida shines light on the so-called ‘Monuments Men’ and namely their time in East Asia in this engaging and lavishly illustrated book.
In this podcast, Noelle and I talk about we talk about the archival research that went into writing this book, the generosity of scholars, such as James Cahill, who shared notes and documents before passing away as well as Sherman E. Lee’s unique role as curator and museum director, his relationship with the ‘old guard’ of Harvard-educated scholars who came before him, the fascinating yet barely-known history of the ‘Monuments Men’ in East Asia, as well as the need for connoisseurship and contextual scholarship in the study and understanding of Chinese painting.
Ricarda is an Assistant Curator at the Victoria & Albert Museum’s Asian Department, East Asia section. She is also a part-time PhD candidate at the Courtauld Institute of Art looking at Chinese court art from the first half of the nineteenth century. Find out more via Twitter @RicardaBeatrix