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Appreciating Tseng Kwong Chi’s Radical Art, beyond His Photos of Keith Haring

One late night in the spring of 1979, a man wearing high-waisted white corduroy pants on the corner of First Avenue and East Fifth Street immediately caught 
Keith Haring’s attention. “He was so eccentric looking that I knew I had to meet this person,” Haring wrote in his journals. “I ended up sort of cruising him, but then we became friends.”
The man was photographer and performance artist Tseng Kwong Chi, who would go on to document much of Haring’s career. Totaling over 20,000 photographs, Tseng’s collection would become the largest archive of Haring’s work in the world. Shortly after exchanging numbers, Haring invited Tseng to a poetry reading at Club 57, where Tseng reluctantly joined Haring on stage to help the artist read a poem he had written. This marked the beginning of a rich friendship that would last until they both succumbed to AIDS-related complications, passing away within one month of each other.

In the span of a decade, the pair traveled the world together, from Paris to Tokyo. Haring introduced Tseng to Club 57, and Tseng introduced Haring to the Ritz Paris. Towards the end of his life, Haring would request that his bedroom be decorated like his suite at the Ritz. “They were quite inseparable,” Muna Tseng, Kwong Chi’s younger sister and trustee of his estate, told Artsy.

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