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Zao Wou Ki

"Each canvas is a page of the painter's diairy."


Notes of biography

Zao Wou Ki was born in Pekin in 1921 and grew up in an important Chinese family. At 10 years old, he was interested in Literature and History and began at the same time drawing and painting. Between 1935 and 1941, he studied to the Art college of Hangzhou. Once he finished his studies, he was an assistant professor there.
In 1941, he organized his first exhibition. He was influenced by European painters, Picasso, Matisse, or Cezanne. In 1946, he organized the first exhibition of the Chinese modern paintings (Museum of Tchoung-King). His first personal exhibition was held in Shanghai in 1947.
He came to Paris in 1948, learnt French very easily. As soon as he arrived in France, he spendt the whole afternoon in the Louvre! He went to Othon Friesz atelier, met Michaux. He travelled in Europe. In 1951, he visited Venise which visit had a big effect on his evolution from representational period to the abstraction. The same year, while he exposed his etching work in Switzerland (Swiss), he discovered Paul Klee's work and was very upset. He exposed regularly in Paris (Gallery Pierre).Then at the beginning of the 50s, in the United States (Chicago, New York, Washington), in Switzerland (Swiss, Basel, Lausanne) and in London. A big change happened in the art of the painter-etcher from year 1953, the writing of his works becoming then imaginary. His already important graphic work was presented the year after in the Museum of Fine Arts of Cincinnati (United States) within the framework of a restrospective.
He traveled in 1957-1958 and did the tour of the world together with Pierre Soulages, meeting of the painters who became friends, was attracted by the newness and the spontaneity of the New School of New York. Zao Wou Ki exposed regularly in New York (Kootz Gallery), as in Paris (Gallery of France). He got public orders. In 1964, he got the French citizenship.
During years 1965-75 he was mainly focused on his etching work, stopping painting during 2 years (1971-1973) following the disease then the death of his second wife. A room of the Centre Pompidou was reserved for him in 1976, for his exhibition "Accrochage III". Whether it is in museums or galleries, in France or abroad, numerous exhibitions of this artist, honorings, restrospectives, follow and are still organized today; the last one, exhibition of paintings, took place in Biarritz in the year 2005.
The painter Zao Wou Ki died in Nyons (Switzerland) in April 2013.

Artists on display

The art and the artists display: proclamations, galleries, museums, personal or collective exhibitions. On walls or in shop windows, wise or rebels, posters warn, argue, show. Some were specially conceived by an artist for such or such event, other, colder, have only the letter.

Some were created in lithographic technic, most are simple offset reproductions. They are many those who like collecting these rectangles of paper, monochrome or in games of colours, in matt paper or brilliant, with many words or almost dumb.

We are happy also to be able to greet, by this pages, mythical galleries as those of Denise René, Louis Carré, Claude Bernard, Berheim Jeune, Maeght, Pierre Loeb and others.


Complete work(s)

Complete work(s)
All the complete works

Bibliographic track and more

To read about the artist :
  • « Zao Wou-Ki », J. Leymarie et F. Cheng, Grand Palais, Paris, 1981
  • « Zao Wou-Ki », J. Leymarie, Cercle d’Art, Paris, 1986
  • « Zao Wou-Ki », Claude Roy, Les grands peintres, Ed. Cercle d'Art, 1989
  • « Estampes et livres illustrés », Céline Chicha, Ed. B.N.F., Paris, 1998
  • « Zao Wou-Ki », Y. Bonnefoy & G. de Cortanze, La Différence, Paris, 1999
  • « Zao Wou-Ki », Bernard Noël, Ed. Atelier des Brisants, 2001
  • « Zao Wou-Ki, rétrospective », D. Abadie, Gal. du Jeu de Paume, Paris, 2003
  • « Works, Writings, Interviews », P. Schneider et M. Ragon, Ed. Poligrafa, 2008
  • « Zao Wou-Ki », Pierre Daix, Ed. Ides et Calendes, Neuchâtel, 2013
  • « Zao Wou-Ki », Dominique de Villepin, Ed. Flammarion, Paris, 2017
To read from the artist :
  • « Autoportrait », Ed. Fayard, Paris, 1988
  • « Couleurs et mots », entretiens, Cherche-Midi, Paris, 1999
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Art movements

+ SCHOOL OF PARIS / 1945-1960 / Jean Degottex, Georges Mathieu, Nicolas de Staël, etc.
All art movements

See & discover

Beyond works currently in stock, it seemed to me useful to combine business with pleasure by letting you discover others works by artists in my gallery. These artworks, now sold or removed from our website, have been in our stock in the past.

These pages will undoubtedly make it possible for some of you to associate an image with its title or the other way round, for others it will be a good time to discover more on such and such artist. For the sake of confidentiality – the pieces being no longer available – we won't display neither their numbering or their price. For whatever reason, make sure to visit this amazing art database with to date 6441 online works just for your pleasure! Michelle Champetier

See & discover