Tseng Kwong Chi

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Tseng Kwong Chi, known as Joseph Tseng prior to his professional career[1] (Chinese: 曾廣智; September 6, 1950 – March 10, 1990), was a Hong Kong-born American photographer who was active in the East Village[1] art scene in the 1980s. He is the brother of dancer/choreographer Muna Tseng.


Tseng was part of a circle of artists in the 1980s New York art scene including Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, and Cindy Sherman.[2] Tseng's most famous body of work is his self-portrait series, East Meets West, also called the "Expeditionary Series". In the series, Tseng dressed in what he called his "Mao suit" and sunglasses (dubbed a "wickedly surrealistic persona"[1] by the New York Times) and photographed himself situated, often emotionlessly, in front of iconic tourist sites. These included the Statue of Liberty, Cape Canaveral, Disney Land,[1] Notre Dame de Paris, and the World Trade Center. Tseng also took tens of thousands of photographs of New York graffiti artist Keith Haring throughout the 1980s working on murals, installations and the subway.[3] In 1984, his photographs were shown with Haring's work at the opening of the Semaphore Gallery's East Village location in a show titled "Art in Transit". Tseng photographed[when?] the first Concorde landing at Kennedy International Airport, from the tarmac.[1] According to his sister, Tseng drew artistic influence from Brassaï and Cartier-Bresson.[1]


Tseng was the son of exiled Chinese Nationalists.[2] Although born in Hong Kong, Tseng's parents moved the family to Canada when he was sixteen. He originally studied painting at Academie Julien, but switched to photography after one year. Tseng died of AIDS-related illness in 1990,[4] and was survived by his companion of seven years, Robert-Kristoffer Haynes, who remains a resident of New York City and serves as Registrar at Paula Cooper Gallery. Tseng's work is in the public collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.[5] Tseng has been included in the Asian American Arts Centre's digital archive.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Loke, Margarett (18 October 1996). "Inside Photography". The New York Times. p. 36. Retrieved 2014-03-10. To complete the image, he dropped the name he had always used, Joseph, and began using his Chinese name, Kwong Chi. And he insisted on the traditional last-name-first sequence, as in Mao Zedong.
  2. ^ a b "Tseng Kwong Chi". Ben Brown Fine Arts. Retrieved 2015-09-19.
  3. ^ "Tseng Kwong Chi, Photographer, 39". The New York Times. p. 36. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
  4. ^ Kelley Kara Hallmark (2007). Encyclopedia of Asian American Artists. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 229. ISBN 9780313334511.
  5. ^ "Photos by Tseng Kwong Chi with Keith Haring at Paul Kasmin Gallery". artdaily.com. 2014. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
  6. ^ "Tseng, Kwong Chi". Asian American Arts Centre.

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