Vivian Tsao


For many years, I pursued art that was calligraphic, a logical solution for a young painter who was exposed to both Chinese and Western traditions. But I developed a relationship with light when I lived in the Middle East.

The steady sun and the hours I spent each day gazing into the distant scene of my window, and the scene of an interior of several doors letting in light from different sources–some cool, some warm–gradually led me to read into light as if it had moods, as if it had been sculptures of time. By using middle-tone colors and colors that are almost white, I jot down momentary responses to what is in front of me. I look for the maximum of tonal variations in a minimum range of contrasts. In the atmosphere of light, I try to construct space. As I question the lines and planes of my subject, I let the spontaneous markings of the brush play an integral part on the canvas. Many years after my days in the Middle East, as I sit down in the studio in the afternoon, I can still feel their impact on my art.

Pages of Light
Vivian Tsao
Phone 718.788.6931
17 Fuller Place, Brooklyn, NY 11215-6006 US Citizen


MFAPainting, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh
BAFine Arts, National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei

Selected Solo Exhibitions:

2018Invitational show Rhythm of Light: From Jeddah to New York at Tenri Cultural Institute, NYC            (Reviewed in Blouin Artinfo)
2009Invitational show Paintings by Vivian Tsao at National Museum of History, Taiwan
2005The Mark of Time: Words & Images at Ceres Gallery, NYC (Reviewed in World Journal)
2003Exhibition of Paintings at Ceres Gallery 
1997Rhythm of Light at Ceres Gallery
1991Interiors in Afternoon Light at Ceres Gallery  (Reviewed in N.Y. Times)
1987Exhibition of Paintings at Anna Swenson Gallery, Brattleboro, Vermont
1981Invitational show of pastels at Long Island University, NYC
1979Exhibition of pastels at National Museum of History
1978Exhibition of oils and pastels at Chinese Cultural Center, NYC
1976Exhibition of oils and pastels at Hewlett Gallery, Carnegie Mellon University
1973Exhibition of paintings at National Taiwan Museum, Taipei

Selected Group Exhibitions and Presentations:

2020Exhibiting Artist Members Annual Exhibition at The National Arts Club, NYC
Group show “Life as It Is Now” at Ceres Gallery
2019Exhibiting Artist Members Annual Exhibition at The National Arts Club, NYC
2018Exhibiting Artist Members Annual Exhibition at The National Arts Club, NYC
2014Exhibition Taiwanese American Arts Council TAAC Recognition: Taiwanese American Artists, curated by Luchia Lee at Queens Museum, NYC
2012Presenter on panel “The National Arts Club Authors’ Showcase” at The National Arts Club
Exhibition “Inside/Outside” at Ceres Gallery
2006“100% Centennial” 100th anniversary exhibition of the College of Fine Arts at Miller Gallery, Carnegie Mellon University
2004Invitational Exhibition of Painting & Sculpture of The American Academy of Arts & Letters, NYC (Reviewed in N.Y. Sun)
2003Pastel Society of America Invitational Exhibition at The Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio
Curator Series of Pastel Society of America, curated by Jimmy Wright and Diane Rosen at The National Arts Club
2002Curator Series of Pastel Society of America, curated by Jimmy Wright and Diane Rosen at The National Arts Club
“20/02” 20th anniversary invitational show at the Rotunda Gallery, Brooklyn
1999Exhibition of the collection from Sun Ten Museum of Los Angeles at Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan
1998Curated and exhibited in two-part show entitled The Autumn Forum at Ceres Gallery
1994Purchase Program Exhibition of The American Academy of Arts and Letters
The Linear Power: Contemporary Drawings by Chinese Artists from New York, Beijing and Hong Kong at The Artland Company Gallery, Hong Kong
1990The Young and the Beautiful: Paintings and Sculpture curated by Barbara Ingber for Museum at Ceres Gallery
1987Chinese Art in Transition at City Gallery, NYC (Reviewed in N.Y. Times)
1986Pastel shows at Pen and Brush Club, NYC
Ten Chinatown show at Asian American Arts Centre, NYC
1985Ten Chinatown show at Asian American Arts Centre, NYC
1984Pastel shows at Pen and Brush Club, NYC
Brooklyn ‘84 exhibition at Brooklyn Museum, NYC
Interiors exhibition at Rotunda Gallery
1982Pastel shows at Pen and Brush Club, NYC
Midyear Show of Paintings at The Butler Institute of American Art
1981Midyear Show of Paintings at The Butler Institute of American Art
1980Midyear Show of Paintings at The Butler Institute of American Art
1979Invitational exhibition by overseas Chinese artists at National Gallery, Taiwan
1977National Cape Coral Art Exhibition, Cape Coral, Florida
1970Annual Juried Exhibition at National Taiwan Museum
1965Annual Juried Exhibition at National Taiwan Museum
1964Annual Juried Exhibition at National Taiwan Museum

Selected Publications and Grants:

2019Essay and nine artworks featured in Pratik, a contmporary literary magazine published in Nepal
2016Essay “A Pearl in Disquieting Times: On French Portraitist Vigée Le Brun in the monthly Bulletin of National Museum of History in Taiwan
2014Essay “The Unexpected Lesson: On Dr. Catherine Yeh” in the anthology on Dr. Yeh published by the Chinese Culture University in Taiwan
2013Essay “The Studio: On the Art and Teaching of Sun To-Ze” in the exhibition catalogue of Prof. Sun To-Ze published by the National Museum of History in Taiwan
2009Essay “Mirrored Afternoon” and artworks in the bilingual book Paintings by Vivian Tsao published by the National Museum of History
Essay “Mirrored Afternoon” and images of my art in Bulletin of National Museum of History
2007Essay “On Revisiting the National Palace Museum” on the newly reconstructed Museum of classical Chinese art in Taipei and its exhibitions in United Daily News, Taiwan
2003Book of art and essays in Chinese The Mark of Time: Dialogues with Vivian Tsao on Art in New York published by Hsiung Shih (Lionart) Art Books in Taiwan (111 plates, 84 in color)
2000Present: Photo essay “Vivian Tsao: Artist Who Meditates on Light” at Biddington’s internet gallery
“Black Velvet at Dusk,” essay in a Chinese-language book published by China Times, Taiwan
1999“Poetic Reflections: An Essay on the Criticism by Hilton Kramer and by W.S. Di Piero” in the literary section of China Times (Chinese language)
1989“The Mark of Time: An Interview with Spanish master Antonio Lopez Garcia in Hsiung Shih Art Monthly, Chinese-language magazine published in Taiwan
1985“Artist-in Residence” grant ($9,000) from New York State Council on the Arts, NYC
1975Scholarship grant ($1,000) from Art Department of Carnegie Mellon University

Work Experience:

1976 – PresentPainter and writer on art at Vivian Tsao Artist
2009 – PresentContributing art writer, Bulletin of National Museum of History
1990 – 2006Adjunct Assistant Professor of Fine Arts in Department of Fine Arts, Pace University, NYC
2000 – PresentA selection of my art is represented by Biddington’s internet gallery
1990 – 1996Program auditor, free-lance reviewer of exhibitions for New York State Council on the Arts
1980 – 1996Correspondent for Hsiung Shih Art Monthly
1985 – 1987Worked on consignment for The Art Collaborative, NYC
1985 – 1986Worked in my studio and at Asian American Arts Centre as recipient of Artist-in-Residence grant from New York State Council on the Arts
1979 – 1980Worked on consignment for Nardin Galleries, NYC
1976 – 1977Worked on consignment for Kingpitcher Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA
1972 – 1974Art instructor at National Taipei University of Education, Taiwan
1971 – 1974Asst. editor of monthly children’s art page for Central Daily News, Taiwan

Selected Artistic Involvements:

1996 – 1999Juror on panel, New York State Council on the Arts
1995Inducted Fellow, Society of Fellows of Dyson College, Pace University
Judge, Eighth Annual New York City Court Employee’s Arts and Crafts Show at New York Supreme Court
1989Panelist for Daughters of Accomplishment: Chinese Women Artists Past and Present at China Institute Gallery, NYC
1985Interpreter for international symposium Words and Images at Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC

Biographical Sketch:

Born of Chinese parents from the Mainland, I am a native of Taiwan. Mandarin Chinese is my mother tongue. Since I began graduate study in the U.S. in 1974, I have used English as a primary language. After studying French for two years, I am comfortable conversing in that language. I lived in Taiwan, the Republic of China, from 1950 to 1974. In 1976, I was married to an American playwright. Now a resident of New York City, I have lived in the Middle East and have made extended visits to Paris, Rome, Lisbon, Madrid and Malaga, spending much time in the museums of those cities. Since 1977, I have also traveled through England, Greece, Morocco, Japan and Taiwan.

Selected Bibliography:

Brenson, Michael. “Vivian Tsao” New York Times, 1 March, 1991 (Review)
Brenson, Michael. “Works by 12 Chinese-Americans in Show” New York Times, 28 August, 1987 (Review)
Chen, Alice. “Painter Vivian Tsao Who Resides in the U.S. Exhibits Her Classics at National Museum of History” Beautiful Life TV, Taipei, 19 October, 2009 (Video and Review)
Cohen, David. “Into the Light: The Paintings of Vivian Tsao” Paintings by Vivian Tsao. Bilingual catalog. Taipei: National Museum of History, 2009 (Essay) 
Cohen, David. “Gallery-Going” The New York Sun, 11 March, 2004 (Review)
Chung, Kang L. “Painting by Vivian Tsao” Gallery (a Chinese-language art magazine) Canton, China, June 1989, pp.42-43 (Review and Reproductions)
Dantzic, Cynthia Maris. Drawing Dimensions: A Comprehensive Introduction. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1999, page 314 (Reproduction)
Dantzic, Cynthia Maris. 100 New York Painters. Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing, November 2006, pp. 208-209 and jacket spine image (Reproductions and Biographical Sketch)
Ho, Hwai Shouh. “Painting by Vivian Tsao” Ten Years by the Oil Lamp. Taiwan: Vast Plain Publishing House, August 1974, pp. 223-227 (Review)
Huang, Chun Hsiu. “An Interview with Painter Vivian Tsao about the Art of Pastel” Hsiung Shih Art Monthly. Taiwan, April 1990, pp. 128-133 and 136 (Article and Reproductions)
“In Painter Vivian Tsao’s New Book The Mark of Time, She Dialogues with American and European Art Masters” Xinhuanet, China, December, 2004 (Article)
“Introduction of Overseas Chinese Artists” and “Works by Vivian Tsao,” Painter, Hunan, China, April, 1990, pp. 13, 22, 40 and 41 (Introduction and Reproductions)
Pastel Society of  America at The Butler Institute of American Art. Catalog. New York: Pastel Society of America, 2003, page 80 (Biographical Sketch and Reproduction)
Sun Ten Museum Collection. Catalog. Taiwan: Taipei Fine Arts Museum, 1999 (Reproduction)
“The Poet” by Vivian Tsao United Daily News: Literary Page, Taiwan, 21 March, 2005 (Reproduction)
Vivian J. Tsao” Who’s Who in America. New Jersey: Marquis Who’s Who, 2005-2016 (Biographical Sketch)
Vivian Tsao’s ‘Rhythm of Light: From Jeddah to New York” at Tenri Cultural Institute, New York” at Blouin Artinfo International, September 7, 2018 (Article and Slideshow)
Vivian Tsao’s Exhibition of Paintings” News, Taiwan Television Enterprise, Ltd., Taipei, 17 October, 1973, #new0255104 (Film)
Without Ceremony. Anthology. New York: Ikon, Inc. January, 1989, pp. 40-41 (Reproductions)