P·P·O·W to publish The Martin Wong Catalogue Raisonné

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P·P·O·W to publish The Martin Wong Catalogue Raisonné
Martin Wong, Eureka, CA, ca. 1975.

NEW YORK, NY.- P·P·O·W has announced that the Cantor Art Center’s Asian American Art Initiative (AAAI)—a series of long-term installations, special exhibitions, research and education projects that operate in tandem with the museum’s ever-expanding collection of works by Asian American and Asian diaspora artists—has launched the Martin Wong Catalogue Raisonné (MWCR) in collaboration with Stanford Libraries, and the Martin Wong Foundation (MWF).

The MWCR is a free online resource featuring the paintings, drawings, poetry, and ceramics of artist Martin Wong (1946–99). In addition to detailed records of over 800 works of art, the project features new essays by scholars and curators, a comprehensive illustrated chronology, and a wealth of primary source material including newly published interviews, a 1991 audio recording of Wong speaking about his work, and a film portrait from the last decade of his life by Charlie Ahearn.

Though often seen as an outsider whose work defies easy categorization due to its realist style, quirky iconography, and obscure references to cosmologies drawn from Asian art, Wong is today recognized as a key figure and documentarian of New York’s Lower East Side and San Francisco—the city where he grew up and died. The scope of the MWCR thus spans from works dated 1959, when Wong was thirteen and began exhibiting his art, to a painting that he was in the process of completing when he died at the age of 53 due to complications related to AIDS. More than 800 artworks are reproduced in the MWCR and are available in high-resolution, zoomable formats, which required photographing many of them anew, and reproducing never-before-published scans from archival materials held by the Martin Wong Foundation. This was meticulously organized by Anneliis Beadnell (Co-Editor MWCR/Archivist to the Estates of Martin Wong, David Wojnarowicz, and Carolee Schneemann at P·P·O·W).

“Our goal for this project was that the sum of all the elements of the MWCR would bring the work of Martin Wong to a broader audience, while providing sustenance to the viewers who already have reasons to revere this highly prolific, influential, and inimitable artist,” writes D. Vanessa Kam, Co-Editor MWCR/Electronic Resources Librarian at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, in the MWCR Introduction, where further explanation of the development of the project is synthesized. There is also a research guide and introductory video on the functionality, navigation, and contents of the MWCR.

New featured essays by art historians Solomon Adler (doctoral candidate at the Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford, UK), Louise Siddons (department head of Art and Media Technologies at the Winchester School of Art at the University of Southampton, UK), Margo Machida (Professor Emerita of Art History and Asian American Studies at the University of Connecticut), Mark Dean Johnson (Co-Editor MWCR/Professor Emeritus of Art at San Francisco State University) and Doryun Chong (Chief Curator and Deputy Director of Hong Kong’s M+ Museum) reflect on various aspects of Wong’s four-decade career and contextualize his artistic output not only in terms of its local resonances and contribution to the creation of Asian American modernism, but to its place in a global art history.

While the MWCR is a collaboration between Stanford Libraries, the AAAI and the MWF, it represents the inaugural research project of the AAAI and furthers the mission of its founders—Marci Kwon (Assistant Professor Art & Art History, Stanford University) and Aleesa Pitchamarn Alexander (Associate Curator, Cantor Arts Center )—to support and encourage the collection, preservation, research, teaching, and public presentation of Asian American/diaspora artists and makers.

"As a free online resource, the Martin Wong Catalogue Raisonné embodies the AAAI's core values, including a commitment to accessibility, community collaboration, and sustained, in-depth engagement with artists as a rejoinder to the tokenizing visibility politics that characterizes so much contemporary discourse about artists of color," says Marci Kwon, Co-Editor MWCR/Co-Director AAAI.

The Martin Wong Foundation was founded in 2003 by Florence Wong Fie (the artist’s mother), family, and friends to provide scholarships for art students at selected universities and to promote the artist’s legacy. The MWF made available its archival resources to enable an incomparably intimate and rich portrait of the artist and his work, much of the contents compiled by Florence Wong Fie during Wong’s lifetime. Gary Ware, President of MWF/Co-Editor MWCR, and intimate lifelong friend of the artist since 1964, has been central to multiple projects involving the artist’s work and legacy including the development of the MWCR. Upon launching the MWCR Ware proclaimed, “On behalf of Aunt Florence, I would just like to say how pleased she would be with how it turned out and to know that Martin's legacy is now secure.”

Stanford Libraries completes the partnership triad, by providing resources and support in the form of staff expertise in metadata, digital preservation, software development, and project and service management. The Spotlight at Stanford platform, an open-source application created by Stanford Libraries software developers, serves as the foundation for the customized presentation of the diverse digital assets in the MWCR.

“While this project follows the basic format and ethos of a traditional printed catalogue raisonné, aiming to present the entire oeuvre of an artist, the online catalogue raisonné allows for this resource to be free and widely accessible, as well as multilayered and interconnected with hyperlinks, tags, audio, and video via Spotlight. It’s an exciting way to bring Martin Wong’s work to researchers everywhere, as well as a potential model for future scholarship on other artists,” says Lindsay King, Head Librarian of Bowes Art and Architecture Library at Stanford.

Co-Editor Mark Dean Johnson notes, "Interest in Martin Wong continues to grow, as evidenced by the focused session at Stanford's IMU UR2 conference where the Martin Wong Catalogue Raisonné was premiered, as well as the concurrent publication of Solomon Adler's essay in Artforum and the simultaneous opening in Madrid of Wong's first European retrospective that will then travel to London, Berlin and Amsterdam."

Martin Wong (1946-1999) was born in Portland, Oregon and raised in San Francisco, California. He studied ceramics at Humboldt State University, graduating in 1968. Wong was active in the performance art groups The Cockettes and Angels of Light before moving to New York in 1978. He exhibited for two decades at notable downtown galleries including EXIT ART, Semaphore, and P·P·O·W, among others, before his passing in San Francisco from an AIDS related illness. His work is represented in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; The Bronx Museum of The Arts, New York, NY; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH; The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA, among others. Human Instamatic, a comprehensive retrospective, opened at the Bronx Museum of The Arts in November 2015, before traveling to the Wexner Center for the Arts in 2016 and the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in 2017. In November 2022, the Museo Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo in Madrid opened Martin Wong: Malicious Mischief, the first extensive, touring exhibition of Wong’s work in Europe. Curated by Krist Gruijthuijsen and Agustín Pérez-Rubio, this exhibition will travel to KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; Camden Art Centre, London; and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.

Based at the Cantor Arts Center, the Asian American Art Initiative (AAAI) is dedicated to the study of artists and makers of Asian descent. Founded by Aleesa Pitchamarn Alexander, Assistant Curator of American Art at the Cantor, and Marci Kwon, Assistant Professor of Art History at Stanford, and publicly launched in January 2021, the AAAI encompasses a range of activities, including: collecting and exhibiting works of Asian American and Asian diaspora artists; preserving archival materials; fostering undergraduate and graduate education; and cultivating community collaboration and dialogue through public programming.

The AAAI aims to establish Stanford as a leading academic and curatorial center for the study of Asian American and Asian diaspora artists. Rather than a discrete identity category, the AAAI approaches the term “Asian American” as a diverse and relational term that signifies the interplay of social inclusion, exclusion, and racialization, as well as connections among East, Southeast, and South Asia; the Pacific Islands; and the Americas. The AAAI strives to foster innovative, interdisciplinary research into the work by Asian American and Asian diaspora makers.

The Martin Wong Foundation was founded in 2001 to fund and/or provide art programs consisting primarily of art scholarships, but also including art publications and children’s art education programs. College-level scholarship programs began in 2003, and funding levels have increased over time. The Foundation currently provides scholarships to students at Humboldt State University, San Francisco State University, Arizona State University and New York University.

Another important component of the Foundation’s activities is an active Art Education Program centered in New York. Since 2003, this program has been directed by the renowned artist, Lady Pink (Sandra Pink Fabara) of Pink Smith Designs. Fabara has created several major murals, working collaboratively with students from the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Queens, New York. The Foundation encourages exhibitions of Martin Wong’s work and supports the celebration of Wong’s legacy through the placement of Wong’s work in museums across the country. P·P·O·W began exhibiting Wong’s artwork in the early ’90s and continues to be the primary gallery representing his works today.

More than a cluster of physical spaces, Stanford Libraries connect people with information by providing diverse resources and services to the Stanford community as well as scholars around the world. Stanford Libraries includes a world-class collection of nearly 12 million books/ebooks, journals, films, maps, databases, and more. Digital tools developed by Stanford Libraries enable students, faculty and researchers to access hundreds of thousands of items from our collections as well as from partnering institutions around the world. Explore and discover more at library.stanford.edu.

Serving the Stanford campus, the Bay Area community, and visitors from around the world, the Cantor Arts Center provides an outstanding cultural experience for visitors of all ages. Founded when the university opened in 1891, the historic museum was expanded and renamed in 1999 for lead donors Iris and B. Gerald Cantor. The Cantor’s collection spans 5,000 years and includes more than 41,000 works of art from around the globe. The Cantor is an established resource for teaching and research on campus. Free admission, tours, lectures, and family activities make the Cantor one of the most visited university art museums in the country.

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