The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) will exhibit the collection of 17th-century Chinese paintings and calligraphy of renowned Chinese-American collector Tsao Jung-ying between 7 August and 4 December, 2016. The exhibition, Alternative Dreams: 17th-Century Chinese Paintings from the Tsao Family Collection, will feature 9 representative and art-historically important works by Dong Qichang, the Four Monks, Wang Shimin, Wang Yuanqi, and Gong Xian, offering an overview of Chinese painting and calligraphy of the late-Ming and early-Qing periods.


Tsao Jung-ying (1929-2011), born Tsao Qiu. The Caos escaped the Zhili-Fengtian wars to the Central Plains. Mr Tsao relocated to western China during the Second World War, and returned to northern China after its conclusion. In 1949, he moved to Taiwan, where he studied law. He discussed art with teachers and friends and often visited the Palace Museum in his leisure, and gradually developed a desire to collect painting and calligraphy. In 1963, he emigrated to the United States, where he continued to practice law and, for the following six decades, continued to hone his connoisseurship of painting and calligraphy. For him, the promotion Chinese art and culture was a mission and a source of pleasure. Guided by a vision of systematic comprehensiveness, Mr. Tsao's Mozhai Collection grew to encompass several hundreds of works ranging in date from the late Ming dynasty to the 20th century and by various painters and stylistic schools. He became one of the major collectors of Chinese painting and calligraphy in the United States. Mr. Tsao was also a committed scholar and regularly published the findings of his research in such books as The Four Rens, Painting of the Mid Qing Dynasty, Xugu and Qi Baishi, and Selected Masterworks of Modern Chinese Painting from the Mozhai Collection.


The Ming-Qing transition was a turbulent period in Chinese history, but it also saw the emergence of many masters of painting and calligraphy. Even more importantly, the painting and calligraphy of this period were rich in concept and technique, and have exerted an immense influence on the subsequent development of Chinese art. Mr. Tsao devoted much energy to collecting and researching 17th-century painting and calligraphy. The exhibits at LACMA have been carefully selected from his collection to showcase, first, the impact on painting and calligraphy of literati aesthetics as articulated by Dong Qichang in his theory of the Southern School, and second, the achievements of the Four Monks and other individualist artists who emphasized self-expressionism and the study of landscapes in nature. To date, there have been few exhibitions in North America focused on painting and calligraphy of the Ming-Qing transition. Uniting art and scholarship, the LACMA exhibition will demonstrate the unparalleled achievements of Mr. Tsao Jung-ying as a collector and connoisseur.