Gathering jade and assembling splendor: the life and art of Tseng Yuho
Thompson, Melissa Jane
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Painter, calligrapher, teacher, and scholar, Tseng Yuho's achievements in the field of Chinese art history are many. Her contributions as artist and scholar and the development of dsui hua, the collage-like technique that is her signature painting style, are the focus of this study.Born in Beijing in 1925 to a family who embraced the twin ideals of Confucianism and modern education, Tseng graduated from Furen University. In Beijing, she was indoctrinated into the Orthodox painting traditions of her teachers Pu Jin and Pu Quan. This training fostered within her a deep commitment to the ideals of Ming dynasty artist and theorist Dong Qichang, particularly his theory of creative reinterpretation: in mastery of the past lay the roots of personal expression.With her husband Gustav Ecke, Tseng emigrated to America in 1949 and settled in Hawaii, where she felt free to experiment. In this creative atmosphere was nurtured the development of dsui hua (literally, "assembled paintings"). The technique is entirely of Tseng's own creation, but has antecedents in both Chinese and Western art. Tseng's attention to Western art movements, local Hawaiian imagery and materials, and her friendships with such prominent figures as Max Ernst, all contributed to the evolution of dsui hua. Within the Chinese tradition, the layers of influence are diverse and indirect, combining techniques and aesthetics from scroll mounting, textiles (kasaya), and trompe l'oeil painting (bapo ). From 1960--70, Tseng was represented by Edith Halpert and the Downtown Gallery, an association that brought Tseng Yuho and dsui hua to the attention of a broader audience and led to numerous commissions and exhibitions.Tseng Yuho's artistic career is distinguished by her parallel career in academia. Until her retirement in 1985, Tseng taught art history and studio art at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. Teaching, scholarship, publications and art historical exhibitions offered other avenues of expression for Tseng's creative and intellectual interests. Interviews with the artist, family members, and colleagues have been supplemented with material from various sources. These include correspondence, catalogues, press releases, newspaper and magazine articles, photographs, and scrapbooks. In addition, Tseng's own writings have been useful sources.
- Art history