Carl Cheng (b. 1942, San Francisco, CA) began his studies in art and design at the University of California (Los Angeles, CA) in 1958. There he worked with professors like Don Chipperfield, John Neuhart, Henry Dreyfus and Robert Heinecken, each of whom emphasized material exploration, problem-solving and cross-pollination. In 1964 Cheng received a fellowship to study at the Folkwang School of Art (Essen, Germany), where he experienced a post-Bauhaus pedagogy that placed art and design together with dance, theater and music. Cheng's experience in Germany also gave him his first exposure to life outside Southern California, as well as a viewpoint on racial and cultural politics in the United States that has stayed with him his entire life.


Cheng has long questioned the role of individuals in a mass media society driven by corporate interests. His work takes a material and conceptual approach that pushes the boundaries of traditional object making, post-minimalism, systems art, environmental art, and social practice. For nearly six decades, he has produced pioneering works exploring, as Mark Johnstone has written, “technology and nature as levers, one applied to the other, in order to discover and reveal the beautiful wonders of each.” Cheng plays a unique role in the history of American contemporary art practice and the history of art in California.


Born in San Francisco, CA in 1942

Works and lives in Santa Monica, CA





Master of Arts, Dickson Art Center, University of California, Los Angeles, CA


Graduate Study: Folkwang School of Art, Essen, Germany

1963 Bachelor of Arts, Dickson Art Center, University of California, Los Angeles, CA
1962 University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI


Solo Exhibitions



The Anderson Gallery, ‘Carl Cheng’, Los Angeles, CA


Philip Martin Gallery, ‘John Doe Co. Presents New Alternative Channel’, Los Angeles, CA


Cherry and Martin, ‘Nature is Everything – Everything is Nature’, Los Angeles, CA


University of Southern California, ‘Human Rock’, Los Angeles, CA


Sculpture Center, ‘Nature Observed/Technical Assist’, New York City, NY


Leal Selado Art Gallery, ‘1+1+1=1’, Macao, China

1997 St. Ives International Exhibition in collaboration with Tate St. Ives, Newlyn Art Gallery, Falmouth College of Arts and inIva, ‘Quality of Light’, Cornwall, England
  Falmouth College of Arts and inIva, ‘Quality of Light’, Cornwall, England
1991 Contemporary Arts Forum, ‘25 Year of John Doe Co’, Santa Barbara, CA

Rancho Santiago College, ‘Solid Rain’, Santa Ana, CA

1989 Capp Street Projects, ‘66 % Water’, San Francisco, CA
1988 ASG Gallery, ‘Water Project’, Nagoya, Japan

List Visual Arts Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, ‘Impressions, Invisible Sculpture’, Cambridge, MA

1985 Santa Monica Place, ‘Sound Drop’, Santa Monica, CA
 1984 Stella Polaris Gallery, ‘Moving Appearance’, Santa Barbara, CA
  Contemporary Arts Forum, ‘Shifting Sand’, Santa Barbara, CA

Stella Polaris Gallery, ‘Recent Work’, Los Angeles, CA


Group Exhibitions



Another Space, ‘Stayin’ AliveI’, New York, NY


Migros Museum of Contemporary Art ‘Potential Worlds 2: Eco-Fictions’, Zürich, Switzerland


Westport Arts Center, 'Specters of Disruption', Westport, CT  


De Young Museum, ‘Paradise’, curated by Todd von Ammon, San Francisco, CA


Los Angeles County Museum of Art,‘3D: Double Vision’, Los Angeles, CA


K11 Art Foundation,‘Emerald City’, Hong Kong, China


Altman Siegel, ‘Soil Erosion’, San Francisco, CA


Hauser & Wirth, ‘The Photographic Object, 1970’, New York, NY


Cherry and Martin, ‘Photography into Sculpture’, Los Angeles, CA




Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation, Los Angeles, CA 

M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, CA

Migros Museum of Contemporary Art, Zürich, Switzerland