Press Release: A Renowned Photographer’s Journey into Little-Seen Parts of Asia Audrey Ronning Topping: An Asian Odyssey on View in The Art Gallery of The Graduate Center

From July 12 through August 17, the Art Gallery of The Graduate Center will present the photography exhibition Audrey Ronning Topping: An Asian Odyssey. Since the 1960s, Topping’s famous photos have given the West rare views of unexposed and off-limits places in Asia, in major US and international publications. The exhibition includes her recent images of Vietnam and Bhutan, as well as earlier photos of Tibet, Xinjiang, and other areas of China. Gallery hours are Tuesdays through Thursdays, 12-6 pm. (An opening reception will be held on Wednesday, July 12, 5-7 pm.)  The Graduate Center is located at 365 Fifth Avenue/34th Street.

The majority of the photos in An Asian Odyssey are images of Bhutan: in 2002, while visiting a Buddhist temple in Colorado, Topping met the Tulku or High Lama of the Gangteng Monastery in Bhutan, who invited her to visit his remote Buddhist Kingdom in the Himalayan Mountains to photograph a sacred Lama Dance festival. Also on exhibit are images of Vietnam, taken in 2005 when the photographer and her husband Seymour Topping, a foreign correspondent and later managing editor of The New York Times, returned to where they had been stationed during the French-Indochina war in the 1950’s, and during the Vietnam War in the 1960s.

The author of five books, Topping has published work in National Geographic, The New York Times, Life, Time, Reader’s Digest, Newsweek, Geographica Universal (Brazil), Harper’s Bazaar, Art in America, and Foreign Affairs.

Her first assignment in China as a photojournalist for The New York Times was in 1966, at the onset of the Cultural Revolution, when Americans were forbidden by the US government to enter Communist China. Her photo essay “Journey into Darkest Red China” became the cover story of the Times magazine.  In 1971, shortly before President Nixon’s historic visit, National Geographic published a 36-page cover story of her work, titled “Return to Changing China,” and Life, Newsweek, and Le Figaro (Paris) published her portraits of China’s Prime Minister Chou En-lai on their covers.

In 1975 she broke the news of the archeological discovery of over 7000 life-size terra-cotta warriors buried with China’s First Emperor in 221 BC.  Since then, she has returned to Asia a dozen times on journalistic assignments, including journeys to Tibet, Xingjian, and Inner Mongolia.

Topping studied sculpture in Berlin and London where she exhibited her works at The Royal Institute Gallery, before she took up photography. She has exhibited her photographs at numerous institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Hallmark Gallery, Royal Ontario Museum, The Overseas Press Club, The Explorers Club, and Harvard University. In 2005, her photo exhibit “The Kingdom of The Thunder Dragon” was shown at the Mission of The Kingdom of Bhutan to the United Nations.


Submitted on: JUN 1, 2006

Category: Press Room