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Nov 4 – Feb 14, 2016 | BMA – Martin Wong: Human Instamatic

The Bronx Museum of the Arts
1040 Grand Concourse at 165th St, Bronx, NY
click here for directions

Thursday 11 am – 6 pm
Friday 11 am – 8 pm
Saturday 11 am – 6 pm
Sunday 11 am – 6 pm
Mon-Wed Closed

Admission: ALWAYS FREE

Fall Season Open House
Sunday, November 8, 3:00pm to 5:00pm

The Board of Trustees of The Bronx Museum of the Arts, Chairperson Laura Blanco, and Executive Director Holly Block cordially invite you to attend the opening of our Fall Season Open House.

2:00pm | Bronx Museum Members tour of Martin Wong: Human Instamatic with curators Sergio Bessa and Yasmin Ramírez. RSVP to or call 718-681-6000, ext. 174.

3:00pm | Public reception in the 2nd floor North Wing

Open studio for Cuban artist-in-residence Humberto Diaz

Music by Mobile Mondays!

Free admission and bar (donations suggested)

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Readings & Conversations | Wednesday, December 2, 5:30pm to 7:30pm

Hop off The Bronx Trolley: First Wednesdays Arts & Culture Tour at the Bronx Museum for free, guided tours of Martin Wong: Human Instamatic.

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1040 Lounge: Chino Latino: The American Vision of Martin Wong | Wednesday, December 16, 6:30pm to 9:00pm

Co-Curator of Martin Wong: Human Instamatic Serigo Bessa will moderate a discussion between Arnaldo Cruz-Malave, Chris Daze Ellis, Yasmín Ramirez, and John Yau, exploring Wong’s self-identification as a Chino-Latino and how that hybrid identity fostered his vision of America. The discussion is inspired by an interview between artist Martin Wong and co-curator Yasmin Ramírez, that will be published for the first time in the exhibition catalogue to be released the week of November 2, 2015.

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Martin Wong: Human Instamatic will be the first museum retrospective of the work of Chinese-American painter Martin Wong (1946-1999) since his untimely death. This project gains momentum from recent exhibitions examining Wong as a collector and source of inspiration for contemporary artists: City as Canvas (Museum of the City of New York, 2014); Dahn Vo, I M U U R 2 (Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 2013); and Taiping Tianguo: Ai Weiwei, Frog King Kwok, Tehching Hsieh, and Martin Wong in New York (Para Site, Hong Kong, 2012; and e-flux, NY, 2014). In contrast, Human Instamatic will offer the first in-depth assessment of Wong’s formal contributions as a painter, placing his work in line with such 20th-century painters as Marsden Hartley and Alice Neel, both renowned for their insightful portraits of the communities in which they lived. Co-curated by Sergio Bessa and Yasmin Ramirez, the exhibition will feature over 90 of Wong’s paintings with rarely-seen archival materials from the Martin Wong Papers at the Fales Library of New York University.

Human Instamatic will explore Wong’s engagement with his community as a major concern of his practice. The exhibition will trace Wong’s development as an artist, beginning with his transition from an introspective youth in San Francisco painting haunting self-portraits to his self-identification in the mid-1970s as the “Human Instamatic,” a street artist selling portraits of passersby in Eureka, CA. Human Instamatic will highlight Wong’s later years in New York City, where he played a pivotal role in the Lower East Side (LES) arts scene in the 1980s/90s, a period in which he created an oeuvre immortalizing the vibrancy of a resilient, artistic, and multi-ethnic community facing displacement. The exhibition will feature Wong’s diaristic renderings of the LES Latino community, NYC’s Chinatown, graffiti artists, and later works created in San Francisco, where he returned in 1994. On view at the Bronx Museum from November 4, 2015 through Feb 14, 2016, this exhibition will travel to additional venues starting in the spring of 2016.


Born in Portland, Oregon, in 1946, Martin Wong was raised in San Francisco, California, and came of age during the city’s blossoming countercultural movement. He studied art at Humboldt State University (1964-1968) and after graduation worked closely with the legendary performance art collectives Angels of Light and the Cockettes in San Francisco. Wong created elaborate sets and costumes for these collectives and documented their work from a rare insider’s point of view. In 1978, Wong moved to New York City, first occupying a room at the Meyer’s Hotel, which he described in a letter to a friend as the last remaining single occupancy hotel at the waterfront. In 1982, he relocated to the Lower East Side until his return to San Francisco in the late ’90s, when he lived under his parents’ care while fighting AIDS. Martin Wong died in 1999.

Martin Wong: Human Instamatic is supported by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Henry Luce Foundation, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, Eric Diefenbach and JK Brown, Florence Wong Fie and the Martin Wong Foundation, Melva Bucksbaum and Raymond Learsy, Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, P.P.O.W Gallery, and other individuals.