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This stout volume breaks ground in art history and Asian American studies. Bolstered by hundreds of illustrations, the ten essays by preeminent scholars include comprehensive and accessible histories depicting how Asian American artists' lives have been both intertwined with and segregated from mainstream American culture. Editors Chang and Mark Johnson, codirectors of the Stanford Asian American Art Project, and Paul Karlstrom (ed., On the Edge of America: California Modernist Art, 1900-1950) include chapters on such topics as photography, women artists, and postwar modernists. Perhaps most valuable is a 190-page section containing succinct biographies of 159 artists. Many little-known masters gain deserved prominence, and more famous artists like Isamu Noguchi are placed in an artistic and sociocultural continuum expanding the sense of the interconnectedness of artistic achievement in America (despite the Asian Exclusion Act of 1924 and 1942's Executive Order 9066). The 1970 cutoff date largely excludes artists of Hawaii, and the editors acknowledge that the sparse coverage of people of Filipino, Korean, and Southeast Asian ancestry reflects the demographics of an earlier era. Nonetheless, this survey has great value for students of art and ethnic history. A benchmark text that will be of great use for many years to come.
—Douglas F. Smith