Sanyu  (Chinese/French, 1901-1966) 

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Sanyu (Chinese/French 1901–1966), born Chang Yu in Nanchong, is considered an early leader of Chinese Modern Art. For his mastery of form and color, he is sometimes referred to as “the Chinese Matisse.” As a boy, Sanyu was home-schooled, being taught calligraphy lessons with the Sichuan calligrapher Zhao Xi (Chinese, 1866-1948) and painting by his father, who was respected for his skills at painting lions and horses. Sanyu’s family recognized his talent as an artist, and enabled him to travel to France to pursue his studies. He arrived in Paris in 1921, where he met other Chinese artists, such as Xu Beihong (Chinese, 1895-1953), who had also migrated there. They moved to Berlin and settled, but Sanyu soon returned to Paris and enrolled in the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, where he drew nudes for the first time.

For a while Sanyu was represented by the gallerist Henri-Pierre Roché, famous for discovering artists such as Marie Laurencin (French, 1885-1956), Georges Braque (French, 1882-1963), Marcel Duchamp (French, 1887-1968), and Constantin Brancusi (Romanian, 1876–1957). Roché encouraged Sanyu to explore printmaking and finally oil painting. Roché would collect a total of 111 paintings and 600 drawings by Sanyu. The artist frequented other artists—both European and Chinese—in Paris, such as Pang Xunqin (Chinese, 1906–1985) and sculptor Alberto Giacometti (Swiss, 1901–1966). His friend and patron Johan Franco promoted his worked and organized several exhibitions for him in Holland. Sanyu’s style maintained the grace and simplicity of gesture learned from his study of Chinese calligraphy, but integrated his admiration for Henri Matisse (French, 1869–1954) in his appropriation of color, blending Minimalism with a Modernist spatial integrity.

Sanyu was also close to the photographer Robert Frank (American, b.1924), who established the Sanyu Scholarship Fund at Yale University to support Chinese students of art, with the proceeds from the sales of Sanyu’s paintings donated to him. Sanyu exhibited twice at the Salon d’Automne, 11 times at the Salon des Indépendants, at the Salon des Tuileries, and the National Museum of Foreign and Contemporary Art (Jeu de Paume). Retrospective exhibitions of his work have been held at the National Museum of History in Taipei, and at the Musée Guimet in Paris. His work has also been exhibited by the Bureau d’Art in Paris, and a catalogue raisonné of his work has been published by the University of Washington Press. The National Museum of History in Taipei houses 42 of his paintings.

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Sanyu, Standing Nude - Marcelle

 

Sanyu
Standing Nude - Marcelle
1929

798 MP
Sanyu, Femme lisant

 

Sanyu
Femme lisant
circa 1920-1929

Galerie Jean-François Cazeau
Sanyu, Weeping Willows

 

Sanyu
Weeping Willows
1930

798 MP
Sanyu, Plum Blossoms

 

Sanyu
Plum Blossoms
1930

798 MP
Sanyu, Pines

 

Sanyu
Pines
1930

798 MP
 
Past auction results (588)  View All
Sanyu, 女人体 (Female nude)

 

Sanyu
女人体 (Female nude)
ink on paper

 

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Sanyu, 红梅与白梅 (Prunus branches in a green landscape)

 

Sanyu
红梅与白梅 (Prunus branches in a green landscape), 1962
oil on fibreboard

 

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Sanyu, Pekinese on a chair

 

Sanyu
Pekinese on a chair, 1930
ink and watercolor on paper

 

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1901   Born in Nanchong, Sichuan province, China
1921   Moves to Paris to study art
1966   Died in his Paris studio
2004   Sanyu l’écriture du corps, Guimet, Musées National des arts asiatiques, Paris, France
2001   In search of a homeland - the art of Sanyu, National Museum of History, Taipei, Taiwan
1995   Sanyu solo exhibition, National Museum of History, Taipei, Taiwan
1989   China - Paris, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan
1984   Taichung cultural Center, Taiwan
1984   National Museum of History, Taipei, Taiwan
1978   National Museum of History, Taipei, Taiwan
1956   Salon des Indépendants, Paris, France
1955   Salon des Indépendants, Paris, France
1954   Salon des Indépendants, Paris, France
1950   Passedoit Gallery, New York, USA
1948   Salon des Indépendants, Paris, France
1947   Salon des Tuileries, Paris, France
1946   Salon des Indépendants, Paris, France
1946   Salon d’Automne, Paris, France
1945   Salon des Indépendants, Paris, France
1944   Salon des Indépendants, Paris, France
1943   Salon des Indépendants, Paris, France
1942   Salon des Indépendants, Paris, France
1938   Salon des Indépendants, Paris, France
1936   Salon des Tuileries, Paris, France
1934   Kunstzaal Van Lier, Amsterdam, Netherlands
1933   Salle du Jeu de Paume, Paris, France
1933   Kunstzaal Van Lier, Amsterdam, Netherlands
1932   Salon des Tuileries, Paris, France
1932   Salon des Indépendants, Paris, France
1932   J.H de Bois Gallery, Haarlem, Netherlands
1931   Editions Bonaparte, Paris, France
1930   Salon des Tuileries, Paris, France
1928   Salon d’Automne, Paris, France
1925   Salon d’Automne, Paris, France