The Huang Yao Foundation was formally set up in 2001 after many years spent researching, collating and documenting the collection of works that it holds.
It was through the process of organizing Huang Yao’s art, cartoon, sketches and written works that the family realized the depth of his incredible life's work, personal values and devotion to China and its people.
We discovered that his diverse life was lived in Shanghai, Chongqing, Guiyang, Guilin, Kunming, Hong Kong, Hanoi, Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Alor Setar.
We have categorized his life into three main periods, “The Cartoonist”, “The Scholar” and “The Painter” and have built the foundation on the following pillars:
Our goal is to raise the profile of Huang Yao’s work throughout the world so that he can take his rightful place in the Chinese art history and his artistic contributions can influence a new generation of artists.
Our journey started in October of 1998, when Madam Huang passed away and the family discovered an intact collection of Huang Yao’s works that spanned over 40 years. We began the long process of sorting his paintings, sketches, manuscripts, documents, photos and soon discovered that there was a lot more to Huang Yao that we already loved so much.
In 1999, we were approached by Shandong Press to republish a part of the Huang Yao’s cartoon works from the 1930s. This was the first time the family had seen works from this period of his life. These works spurred us to begin our research in China, which we are still carrying out today, looking to broaden our understanding of his life there. From discovered clues left behind among his material, a list of books that Huang Yao published in China as early as 1934 was compiled.
Meanwhile, by 2001, the entire collection was fumigated, numbered and catalogued at The Heritage Conservation Center working alongside The Singapore Art Museum under the umbrella of The National Heritage Board. Dr. Kwok Kian Chow, Director of The National Art Gallery gave us an even deeper appreciation of Huang Yao’s talent and led to a sizeable donation to the Singapore Art Museum as well a hosting of the three month long Huang Yao Retrospective.
In 2003, Carolyn (Huang Yao’s granddaughter) was talking to Professor Felicity Lufkin, then a visiting Harvard professor to the National University of Singapore who mentioned that Huang Yao’s woodblock prints (likely done in 1940) were now in the Muban Foundation (London) and a book, Art and Aesthetics in Chinese Popular Prints, had been published with the image of the doorgods done by Huang Yao, it was the first time the family had learnt of Huang Yao producing woodblock prints during the war.
From 2004 to 2006, we undertook the task to translate over a hundred of Huang Yao’s articles, written in the 1980s, into English so that we could all better understand the man and gather more clues about his life.
In 2005, Carolyn spoke alongside Professor John Lent, one of the leading proponents of the international study of comics, and of comics research within academia at the International Association for Media and Communication Research Conference in Taipei and was pleasantly surprised to meet many scholars that knew of Huang Yao. Several cartoonists also approached us to express how Huang Yao had influenced their lives and lifework. At this conference we were only able to present Huang Yao’s life from 1934 to 1937 and then from 1949 to 1988.
That conference was the catalyst to start the search through public libraries in interior of China (that Huang Yao had traveled through) in hopes of finding the books that Huang Yao may have written or published from 1938 to 1949. This resulted in finding a large amount of works produced during the Anti–Japanese war period. To date, a third of the known total of 35 plus works have been found and is available at our Resource Center part of the website.
By late 2006, the family also had enquiries by museums requesting information and interest in acquiring Huang Yao’s works, which resulted in an acquisition by the British Museum and the Palace Museum of Taipei.
New Information and findings continue to surface constantly, we continue to collect, collate and digitize the current collection but have realized that the story of Huang Yao, the person belongs to a much larger audience.
By 2008, the family came to the realization that the three resounding themes in Huang Yao’s works are his love of China and its culture, his love of children and his love of education. The building awareness of Huang Yao and his works are within the Foundation’s mission to provide information and make available to scholars, historians and artists the works of Huang Yao, in hopes that they will fill the understanding in a small part of China’s history and the artworks will be inspiration to other artists.
In 2009, we expanded the team beyond the family members and a plan was put together based on Huang Yao’s works, written words of wisdom and memory of his values. In November of 2009, we headed to China for a series of fact–finding expeditions, which continue to unfold as we stay focused on our journey.
The physical and intellectual property of Huang Yao’s body of works belong to the Huang Yao Foundation, Limited.