Dong Kingman: An American Master

Dong Kingman

March 3 – April 30, 2001

Recognized as one of the premier watercolor masters in America, Chinese-American Dong Kingman was a pioneer of the California school of painting. Seven decades of his award-winning work will be on display at the Chinese Culture Center from March 3 to April 29, 2001, as part of the traveling retrospective exhibition, “Dong Kingman: An American Master,” organized by the Institute of Chinese Culture and Arts. In the planning since early 1999, Kingman’s recent passing in May of 2000 makes this exhibit all the more meaningful.

Born in Oakland, CA as Dong Moy Shu in 1911, Kingman would return to Hong Kong with his family at age five. Entering school in Hong Kong, he was given the name “King Man,” meaning “Scenery Composition” because of his interest in arts. By the time he returned to Oakland in 1929, he already excelled at calligraphy and watercolors. Upon resettling in the United States, he furthered his studies in watercolors at the Morgan Art School.

Dong Kingman

As the United States entered into economic depression, Dong Kingman would blossom, emerging as one of America’s leading artists. A solo exhibition in San Francisco in 1936 would elevate him to national recognition.

His fusion of traditional Chinese and modern Western styles appealed to a wide range of people, yet he never concerned himself with defining his own style. “I am Oriental when I paint trees and landscapes, but Occidental when I paint buildings, ships, or three-dimensional subjects with sunlight and shadow.”

The recipient of every major award for water colors, as well as countless other art awards and honors, Dong Kingman’s art graces the walls of over 50 major American museums, as well as venerated international museums and scores of private collections.

Approximately thirty watercolor paintings representative of Kingman’s works through the 1930s to 1990s will be on display at the Center. Supplemental photos and text will provide an educational framework for understanding this watercolor master’s life, development, contributions, and legacy. Longtime Kingman friend Monte James will serve as curator.

Dong Kingman