b.1969 in New York, lives and works in Beijing

Michael Cherney studied Chinese language and history at the State University of New York at Binghamton, followed by graduate language study at Beijing Language Institute. A self- taught photographer, Cherney’s formal studies, combined with his rigorous personal studies of China’s art historical past, have resulted in his abiding appreciation and even reverence for China’s rich history and painting tradition, particularly landscape painting. His relationship with China has been deepened by his residence in Beijing for well over two decades along with his extensive travel throughout China, seeking out the specific sites that have historical relevance to his work. He has described his art as a way “to look upon a place imbued with a vast (sometimes daunting) accumulation of history and cultural memory, and then to capture one instant, fleeting, tangible moment of it with a photograph.”

Cherney’s photography is an art of boundaries; of masking and enlarging the image. It is an art that challenges the viewing audience to imagine what hovers just beyond the immediately visible. His final presentation is a modern elaboration of traditional formatting: books or albums, hanging scrolls, handscrolls, large-scale screens, round and folding fan shapes. By this presentation, modern photography becomes a natural extension of premodern media, and Cherney’s art becomes a meditation on the long history of Chinese visual art.

Cherney’s works were the first photographic works collected by the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Department of Asian Art and are in the permanent collections of many other museums as well, including the Berkeley Art Museum / Pacific Film Archive, Cleveland Museum of Art, Getty Research Institute, Harvard University Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Middlebury College Museum of Art, Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, Peabody Essex Museum, Portland Art Museum, Princeton University Art Museum, Saint Louis Art Museum, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Yale University Art Gallery, among others.


Michael Cherney

1969 Born in New York, USA


1991-1993 Beijing Language Institute, Beijing, China Chinese Language

1987-1991 State University of New York at Binghamton, Binghamton, NY BA, East Asian History

Selected Lectures

Asia Society Hong Kong Center, Hong Kong, China

Asian Art Society of New England, Massachusetts, USA

Beijing American Center, Beijing, China Binghamton University, New York, USA

Central Academy of Fine Art, Beijing, China China Institute, New York, USA

College of William and Mary, Virginia, USA

Freer and Sackler Galleries, Washington DC, USA

Liangyi Museum, Hong Kong, China

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA

National Taiwan Normal University, Taiwan, China

Northwestern University, Illinonis, USA

Oberlin College, Ohios, USA

Oregon State University, Oregon, Portland

Phoenix Art Museum, Arizona, USA


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