Charles Wong was born within the “boundaries where, Broadway below Montgomery St., beyond Pine St., and Powell St.” lies San Francisco Chinatown. “It was unwritten, but somehow, that was our boundary...the ghetto.”
He received a scholarship after finishing high school to the California School of Fine Arts (now the SF Art Institute) in 1940-42. World War II interrupted and Wong joined the Air Force. He returned to the California School of Fine Arts in 1949-1951 to study photography in the newly founded program of Ansel Adams. There he studied with Adams, Edward Weston, Minor White and Imogen Cunningham.
Wong created photographs in series that had a “beginning, climax and an end…I’m not a one photograph person.” He documented the Chinese community as well as the larger world and part of one of these series “Year of the Dragon” was featured in a 1952 issue of Aperture. Charles Wong’s photographic career was a short one. “I just produced, I had to get it out of my system. And that’s it. After that I went back to work and I forgot all about photography.”
Charles Wong, George Eastman House Study Room, Rochester, NY. 1956
Seven Photographers, San Francisco Museum of Art, 1951
Perceptions, San Francisco Museum of Art, 1954
Subjektive Fotografie:Images of the ‘50s, Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany, 1884/85
Leading the Way: Asian American Artists of the Older Generation, Gordon College,
Wenham, MA. 2001.
Asian/American/Modern Art: Shifting Currents 1900-1970. M.H. De Young Museum,
SF. Fall 2008-January 2009.
Wong, Charles. “1952/The Year of the Dragon” Aperture 2, no.1 (1953)
Klochko, Deborah. Ten Photographers, 1946-54:The Legacy of Minor White, California
School of Fine Arts.
Poon, Irene. Leading the Way: Asian American Artists of the Older Generation, Wenham,
MA: Gordon College, 2001
Chang, Johnson, Karlstrom. Asian American Art: A History 1950-1970. Stanford