Zao Wou-Ki  (Chinese/French, 1921-2013) 

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Zao Wou-Ki (Chinese/French, 1921–2013), also written Zao Wou Ki, born in Beijing, China, was an internationally-renowned Abstract artist. His role in the Lyrical Abstraction circle of postwar painters in France represented a juncture of Chinese and postwar European and American painting traditions. In 1935, Zao attended the School of Fine Arts in Hangzhou, China, where he learned the techniques of traditional Chinese and Western painting. Nevertheless, he was most heavily influenced by European modernists Paul Cézanne (French, 1839–1906), Henri Matisse (French, 1869–1954), and Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973). He arrived in Paris in April 1948, acquainting himself with European Lyrical Abstraction, a movement of postwar French artists pursuing free-form expression through painting. In 1949, he began making prints, publishing them accompanied by poems from celebrated poet Henri Michaux (Belgian, 1899–1984) in 1950. Upon discovering Paul Klee’s paintings in 1951, Zao began to incorporate ideograms into his paintings. Zao still painted figurative elements, however, and used titles for his works referencing actual objects, before definitively choosing an Abstract aesthetic in 1953, inspired by archaic Chinese characters.

In 1957, Zao met New York gallerist Samuel Kootz, who encouraged him to paint large-scale works with looser, more gestural brushstrokes. From the 1960s on, his paintings focused on space and movement, with forms resembling flowing streams or effervescent magmas; in the late 1960s as the illness of his second wife Chan May Kan worsened, the style of Zao’s paintings became more frenzied. Encouraged by Michaux, Zao resumed Chinese ink painting techniques in 1971, which he had given up in 1948 upon arriving in France for fear of being labeled a "Chinese painter." After his wife Chan May Kan’s death in March 1972, Zao visited China for the first time since 1948. Following the visit, he painted in larger formats, including diptychs and triptychs, created in homage to the people who inspired him in his youth. Zao’s work has been celebrated and exhibited around the world, including at the Venice Biennale in 1996.

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Artworks for sale (29)

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Zao Wou-Ki, 31.08.09.2002

 

Zao Wou-Ki
31.08.09.2002
2001-2009

Auction: Apr 26, 2014
Christie's (Shanghai) Auction Company Limited
View Details | entire auction
Zao Wou-Ki, Suite olympique centennal

 

Zao Wou-Ki
Suite olympique centennal
1992

Auction: May 3, 2014
Dr. Irene Lehr Kunstauktionen
View Details | entire auction
Zao Wou-Ki, Encre de chine

 

Zao Wou-Ki
Encre de chine
1996

Galerie Bale
Zao Wou-Ki, Untitled

 

Zao Wou-Ki
Untitled
1970

Feast Projects
Zao Wou-Ki, Signes en mouvement

 

Zao Wou-Ki
Signes en mouvement
1957

798 MP
Zao Wou-Ki, Untitled

 

Zao Wou-Ki
Untitled
1998

Bureau d'Art
Zao Wou-Ki, Untitled

 

Zao Wou-Ki
Untitled
1998

Bureau d'Art
Zao Wou-Ki, Gallery View

 

Zao Wou-Ki
Gallery View
de Sarthe Gallery
Zao Wou-Ki, Gallery View

 

Zao Wou-Ki
Gallery View
de Sarthe Gallery
Past auction results (4387)  View All
Zao Wou-Ki, Composition with red background

 

Zao Wou-Ki
Composition with red background, 1963
oil on canvas

 

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Zao Wou-Ki, Les voiliers

 

Zao Wou-Ki
Les voiliers, 1952
color lithograph

 

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Zao Wou-Ki, Untitled

 

Zao Wou-Ki
Untitled, 1954
etching

 

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1921   Born in Beijing, China into the ancient T’chao family
1935   Enrolled in the Fine Arts School of Hangzhou; remained there for 6 years
1941   Remained at the Arts School as a lecturer after finishing his studies and held his first exhibition in Chungking
1948   Moved to Paris with his wife, Lan-Lan
1949   Awarded first prize in a drawing competition, France
1951   Visited Switzerland for an exhibition of his engravings
1962   Commissioned to illustrate "La Tentation de l’Occident" by the French Minister of Culture, Andre Malraux
1964   Granted French citizenship
1965   Jean-Michel Meurice makes a film on Zao Wou-ki
1970   Led a seminar organised by the artist Oskar Kokoschka for the Salzburg music festival
1972   Started first ink works
1978   Met the Baron and Baroness Thyssen-Bornemisa during their visit to Paris
1982   Visited China for the opening of the Fragrant Hills Hotel designed by his good friend I.M.Pei. Zao created two very large works done in Chinese ink for the opening
1984   Awarded the Legion d’honneur by the French Ministry of Culture
1985   Went to China (Hangzhou) where he taught classes on painting and modern art
1993   Promoted by the President of the French Republic to Commandeur de la Legion d’honneur
1994   Travelled to Japan to be awarded the Imperial Prize (fine arts)
2003   Received at the French Académie des Beaux Arts November 26
2006   Made a ‘Grand Officier de l’Ordre de la Légion d’Honneur’, and decorated by the French President Jacques Chirac on 3rd November 2006 at the Palais de l’Elysée
2013   Zao Wou-Ki Exhibitions in 2013:
Important Contemporary Chinese Artists, Alisan Fine Arts, ART HK 12, Hong Kong, China
2009   Zao Wou-Ki Exhibitions in 2009:
Celebrating Zao Wou-Ki, French May Festival, Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong, China (solo exhibition)
2008   Zao Wou-Ki Exhibitions in 2008:
Zao Wou-Ki Retrospective, Bilbiothèque nationale de France, Paris, France (solo exhibition)
Château de Nemours, France
2007   Zao Wou-Ki Exhibitions in 2007:
Château de Nemours, France
Exploration: New Ink Art Shanghai, 3rd Shanghai Ink Biennial, Zhu Qizhan Art Museum, Shanghai, China (solo exhibition)
Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China 2007, Central Library, Hong Kong, China
2006   Zao Wou-Ki Exhibitions in 2006:
Art & Imitation in China, The University of Hong Kong, China (solo exhibition)
Black & White Dream, reopening of the Suzhou Museum, China
2005   Zao Wou-Ki Exhibitions in 2005:
Zao Wou-ki Retrospective, Bridgestone Museum, Tokyo, Japan (solo exhibition); Bellevue, Biarritz, France (solo exhibition)
2004   Zao Wou-Ki Exhibitions in 2004:
Zao Wou-ki Retrospective, Musée des beaux-arts, Dunkerque, France (solo exhibition); Musée Fabre, Montpellier, France (solo exhibition)
2003   Zao Wou-Ki Exhibitions in 2003:
Retrospective Zao Wou-ki curated by Markku Valkonen, Taidehalli, Helsinki, Finland (solo exhibition)
Zao Wou-ki Recent Works, Marlborough Gallery, New York,NY, USA (solo exhibition)
Zao Wou-ki Watercolours, Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong, China (solo exhibition)
Zao Wou-ki Retrospective, Musée du Jeu de Paume, Paris, France (solo exhibition)
2002   Zao Wou-Ki Exhibitions in 2002:
Signe(s) (regard crise sur des encres d’Henri Michaux à Zao Wou-ki), Kamel Mennour Gallery, Paris, France (solo exhibition)
2001   Zao Wou-Ki Exhibitions in 2001:
Recent Inks, Institut Français, Barcelona, Spain (solo exhibition)
Zao Wou-ki Retrospective, IVAM Centre Julio Gonzalez, Valencia, Spain (solo exhibition)
Zao Wou-ki Retrospective, Musée d'Ixelles, Brussels, Belgium (solo exhibition)
2000   Zao Wou-Ki Exhibitions in 2000:
Zao Wou-ki, Fuji Television Gallery, Tokyo, Japan (solo exhibition)
Musée du Petit-Palais, Paris, France
1999   Zao Wou-Ki Exhibitions in 1999:
Zao Wou-ki Works in Ink 1953-1999 Writing Room, Figeac, France (solo exhibition)
Maîtres de l’Encre: Chang Dai-Chien, T’ang Haywen, Zao Wou-ki, Musée de Pontoise, Paris, France
Zao Wou-ki Graphic Works, Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong, China (solo exhibition)
Zao Wou-ki 60 Years of Painting, Retrospective exhibition at the Shanghai Museum, Shanghai, China; Palace of Fine Arts, Beijing, China; Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China (solo exhibition)
1998   Zao Wou-Ki Exhibitions in 1998:
Zao Wou-ki 60 Years of Painting, Retrospective exhibition at the Shanghai Museum, Shanghai, China; Palace of Fine Arts, Beijing, China; Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China (solo exhibition)
Galerie Thessa Herold, Madrid, Spain
Musée des beaux-arts, Angers, France
1997   Zao Wou-Ki Exhibitions in 1997:
Galerie Krugier-Ditesheim & Cie, Geneva, Switzerland (solo exhibition)
Lin & Keng Gallery, Taipei, China (solo exhibition)
Galerie Thessa Herold, Paris, France (solo exhibition)
1996   Zao Wou-Ki Exhibitions in 1996:
Retrospective, Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan, China (solo exhibition); Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, China (solo exhibition)
Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong, China (solo exhibition)
Art Galerie J. Bastien, Brussels, Belgium (solo exhibition)
Jan Krugier Gallery, New York, NY, USA (solo exhibition)
1995   Zao Wou-Ki Exhibitions in 1995:
Henri Michaux/Zao Wou-ki, une rencontre-une amitié Galerie Lucien Schweitzer, Luxembourg
1994   Zao Wou-Ki Exhibitions in 1994:
Paintings and Drawing in Indian Ink, Centro Cultural de Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City, Mexico (solo exhibition)
1993   Zao Wou-Ki Exhibitions in 1993:
Retrospective, The Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, China
First gallery exhibition in Hong Kong, Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong, China (solo exhibition)
1992   Zao Wou-Ki Exhibitions in 1992:
Works from 1980s, 1990s, Artcurial Gallery, Paris, France
1990   Zao Wou-Ki Exhibitions in 1990:
Retrospective, Musée des beaux-arts, Tours, France (solo exhibition)
1988   Zao Wou-Ki Exhibitions in 1988:
Retrospective show, Artcurial Gallery, Paris, France (solo exhibition)
Paintings and Drawing in Indian Ink, Galerie Krugier Diteschen, Geneva, Switzerland (solo exhibition)
1987   Zao Wou-Ki Exhibitions in 1987:
Fuji Television Gallery, Tokyo, Japan (solo exhibition)
1986   Zao Wou-Ki Exhibitions in 1986:
Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York, NY, USA (solo exhibition)
Galerie de France, Paris, France
Korea (solo exhibition)
1984   Zao Wou-Ki Exhibitions in 1984:
Krugier Gallery, Geneva, Switzerland (solo exhibition)
Presentation of 10 large works of Chinese ink on paper, Galerie de France, Paris, France (solo exhibition)
1983   Zao Wou-Ki Exhibitions in 1983:
Presentation of Collection of works, National Museum of History, Taiwan, China (solo exhibition)
Simultaneous exhibits at the National Museum of Beijing, China, and the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts, China (solo exhibition)
1982   Zao Wou-Ki Exhibitions in 1982:
Hong Kong Arts Centre and National Museum of Modern Art, Singapore, Singapore
1981   Zao Wou-Ki Exhibitions in 1981:
Grand Palais, Paris, France
1980   Zao Wou-Ki Exhibitions in 1980:
Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York, NY, USA
1977   Zao Wou-Ki Exhibitions in 1977:
14 paintings on exhibit, Fuji Television Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
1975   Zao Wou-Ki Exhibitions in 1975:
Accrochage III, Musée national d'art moderne Centre Pompidou, Paris, France
Large exhibition consisting of works produced over the previous two years, Galerie de France, Paris, France
1958   Zao Wou-Ki Exhibitions in 1958:
Kootz Gallery, New York, NY, USA
Galerie de France, Paris, France
1954   Zao Wou-Ki Exhibitions in 1954:
Retrospective exhibition of engraved works, Museum of Fine Arts, Cincinnati, OH
1952   Zao Wou-Ki Exhibitions in 1952:
Galerie Pierre, Paris, France
Exhibitions in Washington, D.C., Chicago, IL, New York, NY, Basel, Switzerland, Lausanne, Switzerland, and London, UK
1947   Zao Wou-Ki Exhibitions in 1947:
Shanghai, China (solo exhibition)
  Raffles City, Singapore
  The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Castagnola, Switzerland
  The Tate Gallery, London, UK
  Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK
  Fogg Museum of Art, Harvard University, Boston, USA
  Hirshorn Museum, Washington D.C., USA
  Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, USA
  The Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA
  The Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, USA
  The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA
  Albertina Museum, Vienna, Austria
  Musée des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belgium
  Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France
  Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris, France
  Folkwang Museu, Essen, Germany
  Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong
  Taiwan Museum of Art, Taichung, Taiwan
  National Museum of History, Taipei, Taiwan
  Bridgestone Museum of Art, Tokyo, Japan
  National Osaka Art Museum, Osaka, Japan