Tseng Kwong Chi

Tseng Kwong Chi, “Warhol at Table”, 1985, Digital Chromogenic Print

Photographer, performance artist and New York downtown personality, Tseng Kwong Chi was born in Hong Kong in 1950 and settled in the East Village of New York in 1979. He developed an artistic persona in the late 1970’s as a kind of Chinese dignitary or “Ambiguous Ambassador,” complete with the classic Mao Tse-Tung suit, dark eyeglasses and an identity tag stamped “SlutforArt”.

Traveling around the United States and the world, Tseng Kwong Chi posited himself amid stereotypical tourist sites, from the Eiffel Tower to Niagara Falls, from the Statue of Liberty to the Grand Canyon. He ricocheting between nature and culture to develop an extensive and now-famous series of 100 silver gelatin self-portraits, entitled the “Expeditionary Self-Portraits” or “East Meets West”. These prints possess wit and humor, as well as great formal beauty in their investigations of issues ranging from the nature of tourism, tourist photography, and cultural identity.

Tseng Kwong Chi soon met Keith Haring and other in the East Village scene who became central to his life and work. With best friends Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf and Ann Magnuson, Tseng became a much-touted documentarian and denizen of the spirited New York downtown scene. He was Keith Haring’s “official” photographer, creating an archive of over 40,000 images recording Keith Haring at work on public and gallery art, from his early subway drawings to his large scale commissions.

Tseng worked in black and white as well as in color, in both candid and formal portraits of Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Julian Schnabel, Peter Halley, McDermott & McGough, Francesco Clemente, among others of the 1980’s art scene. By the time of his death in 1990, at age 39, from an AIDS infection, Tseng Kwong Chi had evolved two major bodies of work. His photography is in many collections: San Francisco Museum of Art, Guggenheim Museum, New School in New York, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, among others.

Reblogged with many thanks to http://snow1960.tumblr.com

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