Martin Wong

United States 1946


Martin Wong
Martin Wong
United States
April 3, 2014
Jean is researcher and author for Widewalls.

Martin Wong was born in Portland, Ore., in 1946 and grew up in San Francisco, where his parents worked for Standard Oil and the Bechtel Corporation. He received a degree in ceramics from Humboldt State University in Arcata, Calif., and joined the Angels of Light, a mystically oriented gay street performance troupe in San Francisco.

At 30 Wong decided to become a painter and, not wanting to return to school, began an arduous process of self-education.

Wong arrived in New York in 1978, settling into an apartment on the Lower East Side and supporting himself with a job in the bookstore of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He first exhibited his work in 1981 at ABC No Rio on Rivington Street on the Lower East Side in an exhibition organized by Colab, an artists’ group known for its impromptu ”first come, first hung” shows, which were open to anyone while space lasted.

At the opening Wong met  Miguel Pinero, the poet and prize-winning playwright of ”Short Eyes” and a well-known figure on the Lower East Side.

For the next few years Mr. Pinero was Mr. Wong’s close friend and mentor, introducing him to the underbelly of the local art, poetry and drug scenes and providing entree to the local Hispanic community that figures so prominently in his paintings of the 80’s. Mr. Wong made many portraits of Mr. Pinero, based several paintings on his prison experiences (the inspiration for ”Short Eyes”) and incorporated poems by Mr. Pinero into several paintings, which he considered collaborations. Mr. Pinero died in 1988.

Martin Wong, a painter whose meticulous visionary realism is among the lasting legacies of New York’s East Village art scene of the 1980’s and a precursor of the identity-driven work of the 90’s, died 1999 at his parents’ home in San Francisco. He was 53 and had lived in San Francisco since 1994.

He died of AIDS-related causes, said Barry Blinderman, a close friend and director of Illinois State University Galleries in Normal, Ill.

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2014The Armory Show 2014New York, NYGroup
2014City as Canvas: New York Graffiti from the Martin Wong CollectionMuseum of the City of New York, New York, NYGroup
2013Texas Contemporary 2013George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas.Group
2013ADAA: The Art Show 2013Anton Kern Gallery, New YorkSolo
2013Secrets, Loss, Memory, and Courage: Works by Gay Male ArtistsAddison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, MAGroup
2013Double Hamburger Deluxe,Marlborough Chelsea, New York, NYGroup
2013Blues for SmokeThe Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OHGroup
2013Taiping Tianguo, A History of Possible EncountersSALT, Istanbul, TurkeyGroup
2013NOT OVER: 25 Years of Visual AIDSLa Mama La Galleria, New York, NYGroup
2013IMUUR2, MartinThe Guggenheim Museum, New York, NYGroup
2013IMUUR2, ction, Installation by Danh VoThe Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MNGroup
2013Blues for SmokeWhitney Museum of American Art, New York, NYGroup
2012The Happy Fainting of PaintingZwinger Galerie, Berlin, GermanyGroup
2012Julie Ault/Heinz Peter Knes/Danh Vo/Martin WongGalerie Buchholz, Berlin, GermanyGroup
2012The Spectrum of SexualityHebrew Union College Museum, NYGroup
2012Come Closer: Art Around the Bowery, 1969-1989The New Museum, New York, NYGroup
2012We The PeopleRobert Rauschenberg Foundation, New York, NYGroup
2012B-OUTAndrew Edlin Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2012SilenceThe Menil Collection, Houston, TXGroup
2012Taiping Tianguo, A History of Possible EncountersPara/Site Art Space, Hong KongGroup
2012Every Exit is an Entrance: 30 years of Exit Art,Exit Art, New York, NYGroup
2012Blues for SmokeMOCA Geffen Contemporary, Los Angeles CAGroup
2012Contemporary Painting, 1960 to the PresentSFMOMA, San Francisco, CAGroup
2011Quodlibet III – Alphabets and InstrumentsGalerie Buchholz, Berlin, GermanyGroup
2011Art, Access & Decay: NY 1975-1985Subliminal Projects Gallery, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2011Acquisition and installation of Stanton Near Forsyth StreetThe Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), New York, NYGroup
2011Art in the Streets iti paintings and black booksMuseum of the City of New YorkGroup
2011Art in the Streets iti paintings and black booksMuseum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), LAGroup
2010Martin Wong Works 1980 1998Galerie Daniel Buccholz, Cologne, GermanySolo
2010Strange Comfort (Afforded by the Profession)Kunsthalle Basel, SwitzerlandGroup
2010Urban ArchivesThe Bronx Museum of Art, Bronx, NYGroup
2010Global/National: The Order of ChaosExit Art, New York, NYGroup
2010Downtown Pix: Mining the Fales ArchivesGrey Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2009Martin Wong: Everything Must GoP·P·O·W, New York, NYSolo
2009Between Art and Life: The Painting and Sculpture CollectionSan Francisco, CAGroup
2009Acquisition and Installation of Rapture, Church and MarketSan Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), CAGroup
2008Acquisition and installation of Sweet Enuff De Young Museum, San Francisco, CAGroup
2008The Dorthy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty StatesNational Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.Group
2008Asian/American/Modern Art: Shifting Currents 1900 1970de Young Museum, San Francisco, CAGroup
2008The LouvrefritosCuchifritos Gallery and Project Space, New York, NYGroup
2008Street art Street Life: From 1950s to NowBronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx, NYGroup
2008Idle YouthGladstone Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2008Sweet Oblivion: Graffiti, Drawings, and Photos from the Martin Wong PapersNew York University, Fales Library Special Collection, New York, NYGroup
2007The Price of Nothing: Luxury after the Real Estate ShowEFA Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2006Big City FallFuse Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2006The Downtown Show, The New York Art Scene 1974-1984The NYU Grey Art Gallery and The Fales Library, New York, NYGroup
2004UntitledChinese Historical Society of America Museum of Art,SFSolo
200421P·P·O·W, New York, NYGroup
2004East Village USANew Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, NYGroup
2003Charlie Ahearn: ArtistsP·P·O·W, New York, NYGroup
2003Look Up! Contemplating the SkiesNew York Academy of Sciences, New York, NYGroup
2003Commodification of BuddhismBronx Museum, Bronx, NYGroup
2002Social LandscapeP·P·O·W, New York, NYGroup
2002Subject Matters: An Exhibition of Subject Driven ArtKravitz/Wehby Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2002Sex Pots: The Erotic Life of ClaySan Francisco State University Fine Arts Gallery, San Francisco, CAGroup
2001Martin Wong: Storefronts 1984-86P·P·O·W, New York, NYSolo
2001One Planet Under A Groove: Hip Hop and Contemporary ArtBronx Museum of Art New York, NYGroup
2001Context: Recent Art from Cuba in the Permanent CollectionBronx Museum of Art, NYGroup
2001Humor and Rage: 5 Contemporary Painters from the United StatesFundacio Caixa Catalunya, Barcelona, SpainGroup
2001Pollack to TodayWhitney Museum of American Art, Permanent collections, New York, NYGroup
2000Manhattan ContrastsNY Historic Society, New York, NYGroup
2000The Figure: Another Side of Modernism, Paintings from 1950 to the PresentNewhouse Center for Contemporary Art, Staten Island, NYGroup
1999Martin Wong: The Eureka YearsHumbolt State University First Street Gallery, Eureka, CASolo
1999Radiant Children: Art of the East VillageLamia Ink!, New York, NYGroup
1998 Sweet Oblivion: The Urban Landscape of Martin WongThe New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, NYSolo
1998Martin Wong : New WorkP·P·O·W, New York, NYSolo
1998Sweet Oblivion: The Urban Landscapes of Martin WongUniversity Galleries, IllinoisSolo
1998Sweet Oblivion: The Urban Landscapes of Martin WongState University, Normal, ILSolo
1998Conviviality & Confetti: Holiday Imagery in ArtThe Noyes Museum of Art Oceanville, NJGroup
1998FotoGrafThe Web Gallery, New York, NYGroup
1997Reflections of Taste, American Art from Greenwich CollectionsBruce Museum Greenwich, CTGroup
1996Sites of ChinatownMuseum of Chinese in the Americas, New York, NYGroup
1996The Usual SuspectsAvanti Gallery New York, NYGroup
1996Blood FairiesArtists Space, New York, NYGroup
1996Arts Communities/AIDS Communities: Realizing the Archive ProjectBoston Center for the Arts, Boston, MAGroup
1996Give Life to Art: The First StepGallery (+) Positive and Visual AIDS, Fire Island Pines, NYGroup
1996Our DietiesISE Art Foundation, New York, NYGroup
1995Art for Education: Public Art in the School SystemThe Palace Hotel, New York, NYGroup
1995Art at the Edge: Social TurfHigh Museum of Art, Atlanta, GAGroup
1995MurderThread Waxing Space, New York, NYGroup
1995In a Different LightUniversity of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CAGroup
1995Art as Dramatic ComedyRandolph Street Gallery, Chicago, ILGroup
1995ImperfectHerter Art Gallery, Amherst, MAGroup
1995Drawn on the MuseumAldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, CTGroup
1994UntitledYork College, Queens, NYSolo
1994New York Realism: Past and PresentOdakyu Museum, Tokyo, JapanGroup
1993UntitledSan Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, CASolo
1993Fallen Idylls: American Figurative PaintingP·P·O·W, New York, NYGroup
1992The New American CityscapeFairfield University, Fairfield, CTGroup
1991Soap, Erotic Jail PaintingsThe Pyramid Club, New York, NYSolo
1991Belly of the BeastCharles Lucien Gallery, New York, NYGroup
1991Your House is MineCenter for Book Arts, New York, NYGroup
1991Queer Art ShowNew Langton Arts, San Francisco, CAGroup
1991Della CovaAnne Plumb Gallery, New York, NYGroup
1990Tiananmen Memorial ShowHong Kong Arts Center, Hong KongGroup
1990QueerWessel-O'Conner Gallery, New York, NYGroup
1989Future NowBass Museum, Miami, FLGroup
1989Center ShowGay and Lesbian Cultural Center, New York, NYGroup
1989DemocracyDIA Art Foundation, New York, NYGroup
1989Benefit for San SalvadorLeo Castelli Gallery, New York, NYGroup
1988EXIT ARTFrank Bernaducci Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1988The Social ClubEXIT ART, New York, NYGroup
19881987 Art of the EightiesKarl Bornstein Gallery, Santa Monica, CAGroup
1988Three Jack-o-LanternsBleecker Gallery, New York, NYGroup
1987Here and NowGreenville County Museum of Art, Greenville, SCSolo
1987Signs of SignificanceSacco's, Ridgefield, CTSolo
1987Living for the City,The Saint, New York, NYSolo
1987Curators' ChoiceGerstadt Gallery, New York, NYGroup
1987The Mind's I, Part 1Asian Arts Institute, New York, NYGroup
1986Freedom of PaintingGalerie Paradis, Paris, FranceGroup
1986Eight Urban PaintersFine Arts Center, State University of New York at Stony BrookGroup
1985Hard Cold FactsB-Side Gallery, New York, NYGroup
1985PhotosynthesisOne Penn Plaza, New York, NYGroup
1985Cross CurrentsSande Webster Gallery, Philadelphia, PAGroup
1985Audacious: Some Extremist Tendencies in East Village ArtRandolph Street Gallery, Chicago, ILGroup
1985PreciousGrey Art Gallery, New York UniversityGroup
1985The Monster ShowNico Smith Gallery, New York, NYGroup
1984UntitledSemaphore, New York, NYSolo
1984Small WorksNOW Gallery, New York, NYGroup
1984The Acid TestSensory Evolution Gallery, New York, NYGroup
1984ExtravaganzaDramatic Personae Gallery, New York, NYGroup
1984Climbing: The East VillageHal Bromm Gallery, New York, NYGroup
1984SituationBess Cutler Gallery, New York, NYGroup
1983A. More StoreJack Tilton Gallery, New York, NYGroup
1983Science FairDanceteria, New York, NYGroup
1983UnderdogEast 7th Street Gallery, New York, NYGroup
1983ResurrectionSt. Mark's Intercollegiate Church, New York, NYGroup
1982Crime Show,ABC No Rio, New York, NYGroup