Monday, February 15, 2016

About the Artist: Yen Liang

April 17, 1908, China – December 27, 2000, Fremont, California

California Passenger List
Name: Yen Liang
Birth Place: Ti Hua, China
Age: 21
Port of Departure: Shanghai, China
Departure Date: August 17, 1928
Port of Arrival: San Francisco
Arrival Date: September 5, 1928
Ship Name: President Madison
Destination: University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Last Residence: China [Liang Foo, father, Peking]
Passage Payment: Chinese Government
Height: 5 feet 9 inches

Frank Lloyd Wright: Recollections by Those Who Knew Him
Edgar Tafel
Courier Corporation, 2001
(Originally published as About Wright by John Wiley & sons, 1993)
page 127: Yen Liang
Yen came from his native China to continue architectural studies at Yale, M.I.T, and Cornell, and ended his first stay in the U. S. with his arrival at Taliesen in 1932 as the first apprentice. He returned to China, but his practice was interrupted by the Japanese invasion. He came back to the U. S. after working for the U. S. Army in Kunming, and after another stay—albeit brief—at Taliesin, he became a chief designer in the New York firm of Harrison and Abramavitz [sic]. His accomplishments include the Stamford Church, known as the “Fish,” much of the United Nations, Battery Park projects, and the Albany Mall. He retired to California to make music, pottery, and the furniture he lives with....

Scottish Rite News Bulletin
Volumes 79-126; 1946–1947
page 6: Club at Kunming, China
During the war, and especially in the Pacific area, numerous Masonic clubs sprang up wherever the Armed Forces were stationed. It was a strong evidence of the devotion to Freemasonry on their part and of their belief that Freemasonry would be of great benefit to those countries or islands after the war was over. Of course, the field on some of the islands was too limited for clubs to survive after the Armed Forces departed. However, while they were active the clubs were a source of great pleasure and interest for the servicemen.

One of the outstanding ones was at Kunming in China. The name given it was Kuei Chu Hui, which has been the general term for Masonic Bodies as written in the Chinese language. Almost immediately after the war. was over the club was disbanded, for the Armed Forces departed. But the last Secretary of the Club, Craig W. Carter, 32°, American Vice Consul at Nanking, has written some points of interest with regard to the club, supplementing the items which appeared in the Scottish Rite News Bulletin for November 5, 1945, and in The New Age Magazine for November-December, 1945.

In October, 1945, at one of the club meetings the speaker was Liang Yen, a Mason and one of the foremost Chinese architects, who spoke on Chinese architecture and illustrated his talk with blackboard sketches of Chinese temples and palaces.

California Passenger List
Name: Yen Liang
Birth Date: abt 1908
Birth Place: Peiping, China
Age: 38
Port of Departure: Shanghai, China
Departure Date:
Arrival Date: 18 Jul 1946
Port of Arrival: San Francisco
Ship Name: General M. C. Meigs
Destination: Spring Green, Wisconsin
Last Residence: China [Fa-Yu Ming Liang, 1220/51 Avenue Road, Shanghai]
Accompanied by: Pen Lien Sah (Dolly Liang), wife
Friend's Name: Thomas Lau, c/o Chinese Consulate, San Francisco

1949 Manhattan, New York, Telephone Directory
Liang Yen b 228 W 11 CHelsa 2-3128

Letters to Apprentices
Frank Lloyd Wright, Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer
Press at California State University, Fresno, 1982
page 196: June 16, 1952
This is my personal testimony of the immeasurable benefits received from having been one of the apprentices at the Taliesin Fellowship.

The success I enjoyed in my architectural practice in China and the fact that I am at present among those participating in designing and building the world capital of the United Nations at its headquarters in New York, I unreservedly attribute to the sound outlook on life and architecture given me by Mr. Frank Lloyd Wright.

The inspiring contact with the great master was made available to me by the existence of the Taliesin Fellowship.

Yen Liang
New York City

From Dee-Dee’s Birthday (1952):
Yen Liang grew up in Pekin, and he knows what happens on a Chinese birthday not only from parties he had as a child, but because he has a small son who has celebrated birthdays just as Dee-Dee did.

Mr. Liang was tutored at home before he went to Hui Wen Academy and Tsing Hua College. He studied architecture in American universities and under Frank Lloyd Wright, and then for eleven years he practiced and taught in China. He is at present with the United Nations Headquarters Planning Office.

From Tommy and Dee-Dee (1953):
Yen Liang is Chinese, and he is now living in the United States; so he is well acquainted with both his heroes. His delightful drawings present with humor a very simple lesson in international understanding for young people.

From Happy New Year (1961):
Yen Liang lives on Long Island now and works in New York but he was born in China and after getting his degree in architecture at Yale he returned to that country to practice his profession. After World War II he returned to the United States. He has worked on many buildings in New York, including those of the United Nations.

He has written and illustrated several books for children including The Pot Bank and The Skyscraper.

Long Island Star Journal
(New York)
Architects Pass Tests
ALBANY—The State Education Department has announced that 97 candidates have successfully completed the latest examination given by the State Board of Examiners of Architects.

Among those named by the Department are seven from the North Queens area. They are Gina Brandes of 42-25 80th street, Elmhurst;) Anthony S. Deliso of 58-27 196th place, Flushing; Donald Fischer of 18-40 211th street, Bayside; Yen Liang of 99-05 63rd drive, Forest Hills; Jansen C. S. Loh of 34-34 77th street, Jackson Heights; Nicholas Sarno of 204-20 42nd avenue, Bayside, and Walter H. Simmons of 61-15 97th street, Rego Park.

East West: The Chinese-American News Magazine
August 8, 1979
Autumn Moon of Quiet Elegance Shines at the Cultural Center
By Cordell Yee
San Francisco—The “Autumn Moon” exhibit at the Chinese Culture Center is an outgrowth of the “Mei Shu” exhibit of community artists, which the center presented a year ago.

The “Mei Shu” exhibit contained works—paintings, sculptures, batik, jewelry, ceramics, baskets, dolls — by more than 80 Bay Area artists. The “Autumn Moon” exhibit continues to draw upon the local base, focusing on five artists and on two art forms — painting, of which there are about 30 examples, and ceramics, of which there are about twice that number. Unlike last year’s exhibit, in which paintings tended to overwhelm the other works, “Autumn Moon” is an attempt to balance the effects of two forms of art.

On the white walls and panels in the center's gallery hang James Ann-Huat Tan’s Ling Nan style watercolors, ranging from subdued, lyrical renderings of the lotus in pale blues, greens, and yellows to more sinister scenes of insects, one in which a black spider is seen stretching toward a winged insect entangled in the spider’s web. Shimmering in glass cases and on pedestals—some at eye-level, some a few inches off the floor, some at heights in between—are the ceramics of Moy Yen-lan, Yen Liang, Gerald Hong, and Harry Nakamoto: vases, bowls, platters, plates, cups, even a leaf-shaped pillow. Their finishes range from a flaming amber to a crackle glaze which makes a work appear as if it would break into a thousand pieces at the slightest touch. Their forms are traditional—for example, a tiny sake bottle and matching celadon cup by Gerald Hong—and contemporary—one, a “free form by Moy Yen-lan, looks like a bowling pin cracking under pressure.

…The two other artists who were present, Moy Yen-lan and Yen Liang, mingled with spectators in the gallery….

The Asian tradition is also strong in Yen Liang, who grew up in Beijing. A semi-retired architect, Liang regards his interest in ceramics, which he began pursuing in earnest about six years ago, as an extension of his profession. Ceramic vessels, like buildings, are useful because of the empty space within them, he said, alluding to a quote attributed to the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu: “Walls are erected to form vessels. It is their emptiness that makes them useful.”

The quote is seemingly inscribed on two of his many black-glazed pots. The effect is achieved by writing the quotation with wax on the pot before the glaze is applied. Liang is particularly fond of this “wax-resist” technique, and he uses it to embellish his creations with Chinese style landscape scenes in addition to quotations.

“There is a sense of mystery in the technique,” the soft-spoken artist said, his eyes twinkling behind his glasses. “Before the glaze is applied, I don’t know how the design will look. Part of the enjoyment of using the technique comes from finding out.”

Taliesin Fellows Newsletter
#3, April 15, 2001
page 5: In Passing, Yen Liang, 1908–2000

Taliesin Fellows Newsletter
#5, October 15, 2001
page 4: The Fellows Roster
Yen Liang (deceased)

Frank Lloyd Wright Quarterly
Volume 13, Number 2, Spring 2002
Former Apprentice Provides $100,000 Bequest
The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation is the recipient of a $100,000 memorial gift provided by one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s earliest apprentices, Yen Liang, and his wife Dolly, who died within ten days of each other in the fall of 2001.

In 1932 Yen Liang was among the first group of apprentices attracted to Wright's experiential architectural school, the Taliesin Fellowship, where students would “learn by doing” as part of the residential community Wright and his wife established at Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin. During World War II, Liang served with the U.S. Army in China, where he designed a house for a top American military official. Following the war, Liang and his wife returned to the Taliesin Fellowship for a few months before moving to New York where Yen became chief designer for Harrison & Abromovitz [sic] Architecture Firm, whose work included the United Nations Buildings, the Albany Mall, and Presbyterian Church in Stanford, Connecticut. Dolly, a Mount Holyoke College graduate, worked at the United Nations. After retiring, the couple moved to Walnut Creek, California, where Yen continued his artistic endeavors, working in ceramics.

According to Gail Warden, Vice President of Development for the Foundation, the Liang Family Trust bequest is the largest endowment gift received to date. She said endowment gifts provide long-term support for the Foundation because they are invested and only a portion of the earnings is spent on programs and operations....

Yen Liang, Frank Lloyd Wright and Mrs. Wright

Diablo Symphony Orchestra
Yen Liang profile

(Yen Liang should not be confused with the Chinese architect, Ssu-ch’eng Liang, also known as Liang Sicheng. Yen Liang was misidentified in a photograph published in Frank Lloyd Wright in New York: The Plaza Years, 1954-1959.)

Related posts: Dee-Dee’s BirthdayTommy and Dee-DeeThe Pot Book, The Skyscraper, Happy New Year

(Next post on Monday: Yun Gee in The Argus: A Journal of Art)

No comments:

Post a Comment