The Mozhai Foundation is a philanthropic, not-for-profit institution dedicated to broadening public appreciation of traditional Chinese art and to supporting an international dialogue on culture in which the role of Chinese art and philosophy is an integral concern. In addition to the Modern Ink series of monographs, the Foundation sponsors academic research and publishing, and provides both financial and curatorial support for museum exhibitions and educational programming. Based in Berkeley, California, the Foundation was established in 2013 by the family of Jung Ying Tsao (1929-2011), a scholar, collector, and connoisseur of Chinese art, to carry on his legacy of scholarship, connoisseurship, and intercultural understanding.
The Mozhai Foundation promotes the understanding and appreciation of Chinese art and culture by providing programs that educate the public, advance scholarship, and foster cultural exchange. These programs include art exhibitions, lectures and seminars, research projects, and the publication of books related to Chinese art and culture.
The Mozhai Foundation will also consider making grants for support of educational programs or other activities for the public benefit which are unrelated, or not strictly related, to Chinese art and culture, provided that such grants shall be made to other qualified nonprofit organizations.
The Mozhai Foundation Vision
The driving force behind our mission is the powerful transformative potential of Chinese artistic heritage. Once activated, this transformation can take many forms—be it spiritual cultivation, a perspective shift leading to deeper inter-cultural understanding and connection, or a renewed appreciation for the natural world and our place within it.
Personal experiences with works of art lead to more meaningful and insightful engagement. Fostering greater access to such experiences thus becomes a vital aspect of our programs to educate the public, advance scholarship, and foster cultural exchange. These programs include art exhibitions, lectures and seminars, research and support projects, along with publications and other educational resources related to Chinese artistic heritage.
The Mozhai Foundation advocates for the enduring value of China’s rich aesthetic traditions and cultural practices and holds that this legacy can inform our current perspectives for the better. Chinese understandings and interpretations of their own cultural heritage have long been under-represented in the West and have much to offer contemporary dialogue and scholarship. By sharing such viewpoints, which are integral to our programs, we aim to deepen both cultural connections and historical knowledge.
We embrace innovative projects with the potential to revitalize this legacy by engaging it from a diverse range of disciplines (from science and mathematics, to philosophy and history, to language and culture, for instance), as well as creative practices (from painting and film, to installation and architecture, to music and performance, to poetry and literature). The Mozhai Foundation stimulates learning and community-building through inclusive educational programming for people of all ages. In so doing, our intention is to make Chinese artistic heritage and cultural practices accessible, relevant, and appealing to a broad, contemporary audience.
JUNG YING TSAO (曹仲英 , 1929 – 2011)
A distinguished scholar, collector, and connoisseur, Jung Ying Tsao devoted his life to deepening his own understanding of Chinese art, and to sharing his learning and insights with others. His lifelong passion for Chinese painting in particular spurred him to delve the full scope and depth of the ink artist’s creative processes and to develop his own approach to connoisseurship.
A native of Tianjin, Jung Ying Tsao moved to Taiwan in the late 1940s, then in 1963 to San Francisco, where he opened a small gallery of Chinese art. His reputation grew, thanks to his dedication to cultivating budding collectors, such as Michael Gallis, who embraced his challenge to recognize the expressive power of Chinese masterworks and explore how this power might enrich their own lives. By 1974 J.Y. Tsao Oriental Fine Arts had evolved into Far East Fine Arts, Inc., in a larger space on Sutter Street near Union Square. Here, over the next forty years, Jung Ying Tsao would write three books, hold exhibitions, lead informal study groups, and continue to mentor young scholars and guide clients on the journey of appreciating Chinese art.
Jung Ying Tsao authored three books, The Four Jens (1977), Chinese Paintings of the Middle Qing Dynasty (1987), and The Paintings of Xugu and Qi Baishi (1993). He also placed important works in the collections of the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In addition, collections formed and guided by Mr. Tsao have been the subject of major academic projects, including New Songs on Ancient Tunes: 19th-20th Century Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy from the Richard Fabian Collection (2007) at the Honolulu Academy of Arts, Selected Masterworks of Modern Chinese Painting from the Mozhai Collection (2010) at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, and, most recently, a major study of seventeenth century Chinese painting at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
As keynote speaker at the 2008 World Chinese Collectors Convention in Shanghai, and also in an interview earlier that year, Jung Ying Tsao related insights into his development as a scholar and collector as well as his hopes for future generations. In his later years, Mr. Tsao laid plans to establish a foundation that would promote public education on Chinese art and culture. Since his passing, family members have endeavored to honor his wishes and extend his legacy by sponsoring the programs of the Mozhai Foundation.
In 2016, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) presented an exhibition of more than 130 works of Chinese painting and calligraphy from the late Ming and early Qing periods that Jung Ying Tsao personally acquired over a period of 50 years. Alternative Dreams: 17th-Century Chinese Paintings from the Tsao Family Collection featured nearly 80 artists from a broad range of backgrounds and stylistic trends. The exhibition’s illustrated catalog (edited by curator Stephen Little) includes essays by distinguished scholars in the fields of art, poetry, and Buddhism. A two-day symposium hosted by LACMA offered thirteen presentations on Chinese art and culture of the 17th century. The collection represents the culmination of Mr. Tsao’s lifelong pursuit of scholarship and connoisseurship in Chinese art.
The Name Of The Mozhai Foundation
Mozhai means “the studio of quietude” and was the courtesy name chosen by Jung Ying Tsao to reflect his work as a scholar, connoisseur, and collector of traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy.
The Mozhai Foundation Seal
The seal appearing in the Mozhai Foundation logo was carved by master engraver Wu Zijian 吳子健 (born 1947). Six characters comprise the text in the bird-and-worm script 鳥蟲文, a form of seal script used from the Spring and Autumn period (770-476 BCE) through the Han Dynasty (206 BCE-220 AD).
The text reads: 曹氏默齋心賞 Cao shi Mozhai xinshang. The first two characters (in the upper and lower right) refer to the Tsao family. The second two characters (in the central column) are the courtesy name of Jung Ying Tsao and mean “silent studio”—that is, a retreat for quiet contemplation. This appellation reflects Mr. Tsao’s personal approach to scholarship and connoisseurship with regard to Chinese art. The final two characters may be translated as “to appreciate” or “to admire.”
Anthony Costa, Managing Director
Vincent J. Chang, Director of Operations
Carol Bardoff, Programs Coordinator