“Most artists are surrealists, always dreaming something and then painting it.”

Dong Kingman was born in Oakland, California and grew up to become one of the most prominent watercolor masters in the United States, although he learned his craft in China. He moved back to Hong Kong with his family as a young boy and developed superior skills in Eastern calligraphy and watercolor painting at the Chan Sun Wen School. As the apprentice of Paris-trained artist Szeto Wai, Kingman was exposed to European trends, and attributes much of his success to his mentor.

When Kingman was 19, he returned to the U.S. and immediately showcased his exemplary artistic skills to a Western audience. While attending the Fox Morgan Art School in the late 1920s, he worked a number of odd jobs, but turned away from this lifestyle to focus on watercolor painting. His 1936 solo exhibition at the San Francisco Art Association garnered him a breakthrough in his career. The flood of critical acclaim that followed was just a precursor to his national success as a California Scene painter.

The graphic quality of Kingman’s art allowed him to work in many different industries. He was a prolific participant in the WPA Program and went on to work as a US Army artist in WWII. Later in his career, he won countless awards and found recognition for both his urban and landscape paintings and his design work in Hollywood. His artwork can be found in over 50 public and private collections worldwide, including Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Brooklyn Museum; deYoung Museum and Art Institute, Chicago; and Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts, among others.

California Scene Painting Timeline
1938-1939: Created over 300 works with the WPA relief program.
1941 and 1942: Kingman received the Guggenheim Fellowship.
1990s: Central figure in two major exhibitions at the Taiwan at the Taipei Modern Art Museum.
1946-1956: Served as an art instructor at Columbia University and Hunter College.
1950s: Acted as a U.S. cultural ambassador and Department of State international lecturer.
1950s and 1960s: Worked in the film industry as an illustrator, creating hundreds of film-related works. 1981: He became the 1st American artist to be featured in a solo exhibition in China after diplomatic relations were mended. This critically acclaimed exhibition drew over 100,000 people.

    Dong Kingman (1911-2000)
Dong Kingman Red and Green San Francisco