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Zao Wou-Ki 趙無極

Chinese-French, 1921–2013

2,178 followers
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Zao Wou-Ki 趙無極

Chinese-French, 1921–2013

2,178
Followers
Biography

A master of postwar art and the highest-selling Chinese painter of his generation, Zao Wou-ki applied Modernist art-making techniques to traditional Chinese literati painting. Zao moved to Paris in 1948, rejected his Chinese heritage, and immediately began painting in the style of Paul Klee, whose own style was influenced by Chinese landscape painting. By 1954, Zao had developed a unique style that was marked by contrasting colors and lyrical abstraction and that merged Chinese art, as viewed through the lens of European abstraction, with traditional Chinese landscapes. Zao remained wary of objectively Chinese-influenced art and avoided using ink for much of his career, preferring to work with oil paints in a calligraphic style. Like traditional Chinese landscape painting, Zao’s paintings function as fragments of a larger scene, possessing fluidity, transparency, and a graceful luminosity representative of the artist’s interior energies.

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Career Highlights
Learn more about artist insights.
Blue chip status
Blue chip representation
Represented by internationally reputable galleries.
Auction
High auction record
HKD $510m, Sotheby's, 2018
Group
Group show at a major institution
Guggenheim Museum, and 1 more
Institution
Collected by a major institution
Tate, and 2 more
Publication
Reviewed by a major art publication
Art in America, and 1 more
Biography

A master of postwar art and the highest-selling Chinese painter of his generation, Zao Wou-ki applied Modernist art-making techniques to traditional Chinese literati painting. Zao moved to Paris in 1948, rejected his Chinese heritage, and immediately began painting in the style of Paul Klee, whose own style was influenced by Chinese landscape painting. By 1954, Zao had developed a unique style that was marked by contrasting colors and lyrical abstraction and that merged Chinese art, as viewed through the lens of European abstraction, with traditional Chinese landscapes. Zao remained wary of objectively Chinese-influenced art and avoided using ink for much of his career, preferring to work with oil paints in a calligraphic style. Like traditional Chinese landscape painting, Zao’s paintings function as fragments of a larger scene, possessing fluidity, transparency, and a graceful luminosity representative of the artist’s interior energies.

Career Highlights
Learn more about artist insights.
Blue chip status
Blue chip representation
Represented by internationally reputable galleries.
Auction
High auction record
HKD $510m, Sotheby's, 2018
Group
Group show at a major institution
Guggenheim Museum, and 1 more
Institution
Collected by a major institution
Tate, and 2 more
Publication
Reviewed by a major art publication
Art in America, and 1 more
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