Thursday, March 1, 2012

Chinese Art During America's Roaring 1920s

 xWhat do you think about when you picture life in the 1920s of America? Many people tend to recall old pictures of extravagant parties with people in outdated, funny clothes. Some times people living today think about the infamous crash of 1929 which followed financial indulgence for much of the decade. It is true that most people living today simply cannot remember the 1920s at all. Very few of us were actually alive during this time period. One little known additional fact about the "Roaring 20s" was that it was the decade where Chinese artwork became a permanent part of the national American life.

The sale and display of Chinese art rose quickly during this time period. It held future implications for the importation of Eastern culture in to North America. The vast majority of people living then never foresaw the larger, cultural reality unfolding in their day. Sadly, Charles L. Freer passed away in 1919. However, the man whose name authenticated the Freer Gallery of Art lived on in spirit. Four years later this leading American institution in the collecting, study, and display of Chinese artwork was open to the public. At the time the gallery was directed by John F. Lodge (1878-1942). It was through this man C.T. Loo, the famous Chinese art dealer and businessman, returned to the shores of America. In fact, Loo became the gallery's top supplier between the years 1921 to 1951. Loo was followed only by two other firms. In the next three decades, the gallery spent $860,340 on 124 pieces which Loo supplied. These purchases would constitute the core of the gallery's ancient Chinese bronze, jade, and stone sculpture holdings.