Tseng Yuho

1925-2017, Beijing China


Tseng Yuho, also known as Betty Ecke, is an internationally acclaimed artist, distinguished scholar, and educator. Born in Beijing in 1925, she began studying painting from an early age. In 1937, she studied brush painting with Fang Zhaoling and was privately tutored by Prince Pu Jin. In 1942, while she was a student at Furen University in the art department, Beijing, she supplemented her studies by conversing with well-known academics and artists. In 1949, she moved to Hawaii and attained her MA in Asian Studies from the University of Hawaii in 1966. She obtained her PhD from New York University in 1972. She was made a full professor at the University of Hawaii in 1973 and the deputy director of the Asian Art Department at the Honolulu Museum of Art. In 1989, she retired while continuing to paint and do research. In 1990, the Japanese Buddhist Association named her “Living Treasure of Hawaii”. In 2005, she returned to live in Beijing. Upon first inspection, Tseng's work appears to contain abstract forms executed in Chinese ink and colour on paper, making use of classical strokes and dots, but without traditional subject matter. However, upon closer study one discovers landscapes or other forms in these misty abstractions. In the 1950s, she experimented with layering and the patching of gold or silver foil that she named dsui. These remarkable works were first shown in a travelling exhibition sponsored by Smithsonian Institute, and in 1955 were shown in ten museums and art centers in the United States.

Following her 2002 retrospective at the National Museum of History in Taipei, Alisan Fine Arts held a solo exhibition in 2003 for the artist and included her work in a group exhibition in 2008 featuring women artists. When President Richard Nixon visited China in 1972, as one of his diplomatic gifts, he gave Mao Zedong a book of calligraphy by Tseng. She has had over forty solo and group exhibitions, including the travelling exhibition Asian Traditions/Modern Expressions in 1997-99, and from 2001-2002 she was included in Chinese Modern Art: the Khoan and Michael Sullivan Collection at the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archeology at Oxford University. Her works have been collected by the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archeology, Oxford University; Honolulu Academy of Arts; Hawaii Culture and Arts Foundation; M+, Hong Kong.


1925      Born in Beijing, China

1937      Studied brush painting with Fang Zhaoling
Private studies with Prince Pu Jin

1942      Studied in Art Department, Furen (Catholic SVD) University, Beijing, China
Postgraduate studies: seal engraving and Chinese epigraphy with Rong Keng; Chinese bronzes with Rong King, Han Shouxuan (Beijing University), Gustav Ecke and Max Loehr;  Research methods in Chinese painting and calligraphy with Qi Gong, Teng Yije (Central University), Chinese poetry Gu Weigang and Qi Gong

1942-5  Assistant to Pu Quan and Gustav Ecke

1945     Married Gustav Ecke, Beijing, China 

1946-48  Lecturer, Yale-China Language School of Beijing - Chinese mounting and repair methods

1947-48  Sojourn in Amoy-Gulangsu, Fujian, China

1949     Went to Hong Kong and then moved to Hawaii, USA

1953     Summer session, University of California, Berkeley, history of later Chinese painting and studio Chinese brush painting

1953     Consultant, Honolulu Academy of Arts, Hawaii, USA

1953-62 Taught studio Chinese brush painting and history of later Chinese painting, University of Hawaii, USA

1957-58 Travelled in Europe

1960      Received Asian Institute Scholarship, Washington DC, travelled to Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan

1963      In celebrating the new site of the Royal Far Eastern Museum of Art, the Swedish King invited Tseng Yuho to have her solo exhibition held at the National Museum of Modern Art, Sweden
Guest of King Gustaf of Sweden, Inauguration of Asian Art Museum, Stockholm, Sweden

1966     MA, Asian Studies, University of Hawaii

1966-67  Fulbright lectureship, Department of Art History, University of Munich and Academie der Bildenden Kunste, Munich, Germany

1967-69  Commuted between New York and Bonn, Germany, course work for PhD at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, New York, USA

1969     Returned to Hawaii, Associate Professor, Fine Art Department, Faculty of Asian Studies, University of Hawaii, Hawaii, USA

1971     Gustav Ecke died of heart failure

1971-3,79-82      Programme  Chairperson, Art History, Art Department, University of Hawaii, USA

1972      PhD Far Eastern Art History, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, New York, USA
When President Richard Nixon visited China, as one of his diplomatic gifts, he gave Mao Zedong a book by Tseng Yuho "Chinese Calligraphy" 

1973      Full professorship awarded

1980-85  Chair of Council for Chinese Studies, Centre for Asia and Pacific, University of Hawaii, Hawaii, USA

1985      Upon early retirement became Professor Emeritus, University of Hawaii, Hawaii, USA

Adjunct-curator of Honolulu Academy of Arts, Hawaii, USA

1989      Consultant for Asian Art, Honolulu Academy of Arts, Hawaii, USA

1990      Japanese Buddhist Association named her “Living Treasure of Hawaii"

1991     Honorary President of Beijing Arts and Crafts Association, and Ming Dynasty Furniture Association
Moderator, The International Colloquium on Chinese Art History, National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan

1993      Published "History of Chinese Calligraphy"

1998      Received the Contribution Award of Fine Arts, Fine Art Department, Campus of University of Hawaii, USA

2002-01 'Gathering Jade Assembling Splendor, the Live, and Art of Tseng Yuho', by Melissa Jane Thompson, a dissertation for Doctor of Philosophy, University of Washington, USA

2005      Moved back to Beijing, China

2017      Passed away in Beijing, China



  • Riverside III Gallery, Beijing, China
  • Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong
  • National History Museum, Taipei, Taiwan
  • Kaikodo, New York, USA
  • Award Exhibition, KOA Gallery, Community College, University of Hawaii, Hawaii, USA
  • Michael Goedhuis Gallery, London, UK
  • Retrospective travelling exhibition: Shanghai Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai; National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China; Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, Taiwan; Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong; National Museum of Singapore, Singapore
  • The Honolulu Academy of Arts, Hawaii, USA
  • Kunstverein, Munich, Germany; Reitberg Museum, Zurich, Switzerland; Karmeliter Kloster, Frankfurt, Germany
  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, USA
  • National Museum of Modern Art, Stockholm, Sweden; Musee Cernuschi, Paris, France
  • Honolulu Academy of Arts travelled to Stanford University Art Gallery
  • Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, USA
  • Travelling exhibition sponsored by Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC, shown in 10 museums and art centers in the USA
  • Travelling Exhibition, The Honolulu Academy of Arts; de Young Museum, San Francisco, USA; Gallery Fussli, Zurich, Switzerland
  • Fung Pingshan Art Museum, Hong Kong University, Hong Kong
  • The Chinese Council, London, UK; de Young Museum, San Francisco, USA



  • Abstract Expressionism: Looking East from the Far West, Honolulu Museum of Art, Hawaii, USA



  • The Act of Writing and Non-writing: The Open Space for Chinese Calligraphy, International Exhibition of Modern Calligraphy, China Art Academy, Hangzhou, China


  • Modern Chinese Art, Opening of the Michael Sullivan Collection, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK


  • Traveling Exhibition: Asian Traditions/Modern Expressions, Asian American Artists and Abstraction1945-1970, Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University, New York; Chicago Cultural Centre, Chicago; Japanese American National Museum and Bedford Gallery, California, United States; Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Taipei Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan; Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Fukuoka; Akita Senshu Museum, Akita, Japan


  • The Living Brush, Four Masters of Contemporary Chinese Calligraphers, American Asian Cultural Exchange Centre, San Francisco, USA


  • Tan-Yi, One, The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu, USA


  • 20th Century Chinese Painting, Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong


  • Inaugural Exhibitions, Overseas Section, Taipei Fine Art Museum, Taipei, Taiwan

1971, 68, 65       

  • Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, USA


  • Faculty exhibitions, Art Department, Unversity of Hawaii, Hawaii, USA
  • Artists of Hawaii Annual Exhibition, Honolulu Academy of Arts, Hawaii, USA


  • Rockford Museum of Art, IL, USA
  • Pacific Heritage, touring exhibition, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, San Diego, and Berlin Festival, Germany; IBM Gallery, Corcoran Gallery, New York, USA
  • Group show, Downtown Gallery, New York, USA
  • Stanford Art Gallery, de Young Museum, San Francisco, USA
1958, 60, 62      
  • Art Festival, University of Illinois, USA


1960            Louise Horowitz Scholarship, Oriental Society, Washington DC, USA

1964            Book design award, Some Contemporary Elements in Classical Chinese Painting, Los Angeles Book Association, USA

Rockefeller Foundation, joint award with Gustav Ecke, two months in Italy

1972            Award for Outstanding Scholarship, New York University Foundation, USA

1971-3         University of Hawaii Community grant, USA

1973            Research grant from UH Foundation

1974            Paul S. Bachman Memorial Award, Pacific and Asian Affairs Council, for outstanding contribution to the relationship of the USA and Asia

1976            Field trip in Eastern Asia and the USA, National Endowment for the Humanities of Hawaii, and US Bicentennial Commission of Hawaii grant, USA

1987            Appointed a member of the Governor's Commission for the Hawaiian-Chinese Bicentennial celebration in 1989
1993            Libraries Award for the Best Book Produced in Hong Kong for Black and White English Language books, Urban Council, Hong Kong

1998            Outstanding Artist Award, KOA Gallery, USA



Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK

Golden West Savings and Loan, San Francisco, CA, USA

Honolulu Academy of Art, Hawaii, USA

Honolulu International Airport, USA

Manoa Chinese Cemetery, Hawaii, USA

Maui Memorial Hospital, Hawaii, USA

University of Hawaii, USA

M+, Hong Kong