Zao Wu-Ki

Zao Wou-Ki is an internationally renowned Chinese-French Artist known for his non-representational paintings that blend Eastern and Western modes of artmaking. He rose to notoriety after WWII representing the intersection of Chinese, European, and American painting traditions. He is considered to be one of the most successful Chinese painters during his lifetime.

A move to Paris in 1947 brought Zao closer to Alberto Giacometti and Joan Miro, this association with the École de Paris emboldened his work. Rich saturated colors and intense line work began to define his compositions, around this time Chinese calligraphy became more pronounced. In the 1970s after several trips to New York City in the previous decades, where he met several of the Abstract Expressionists such as Barnett Newman and Franz Kline, and the gallerist Samuel Kootz, Zao’s approach shifted, surreal compositions with a blurred sense of space became more common.

Although a painter by trade, he had a collaborative spirit and produced other works like stage sets, illustrated poetry books, and numerous prints and engravings.

Zao’s first wife was Lalan (Xie Jinglan), was a composer, they divorced in the mid 1950s. His second wife, Chan May-Kan, had two children from a previous marriage, while with Zao she became a successful sculptor. In 1972, she committed suicide after a battle with mental illness. After her death, Zao travelled back to China to visit his family who he had not seen since 1948. In 1997 he married Françoise Marquet, who served as president of the Zao Wou-Ki Foundation after his death.

The artist died on April 9, 2013 in Nyon, Switzerland at the age of 93. Today, the artist’s works are in the collections of the Tate Gallery in London, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., among others.

Born: 1920
Died: 2013
Education: National School of Arts, Hangchow


Select Exhibitions

L’espace est silence, Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris, France (solo exhibition)

Watercolor. Ink on paper. Porcelain, Marlborough Gallery, New York, New York, United States (solo exhibition)
Selected Exhibitions in 2017-2018:
Infinites of Zao Wou-Ki, Asia University Museum of Modern Art, Taichung, Taiwan (solo exhibition)

Willem De Kooning – Zao Wou-Ki, Lévy Gorvy Gallery, New York, New York, United States
Zao Wou-Ki Selected Exhibitions in 2016-2017:
No Limits: Zao Wou-Ki, Asia Society Museum, New York, New York; traveled to Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, Maine (solo exhibition)

La lumière et le soufflé, Musée d’art de Pully, Pully, Switzerland (solo exhibition)
Estampes – Peintures, Centre culturel de Chine à Paris, France (solo exhibition)
Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Martigny, Switzerland (solo exhibition)

Retrospettiva 1920 – 2013, Pinacoteca comunale de Locarno, Locarno, Switzerland (solo exhibition)

Important Contemporary Chinese Artists, Alisan Fine Arts, ART HK 12, Hong Kong, China

The Prints of Zao Wou-Ki, Oriental Art & Cultural Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (solo exhibition)

Fundação Arpad Szenes, Lisbon, Portugal (solo exhibition)
Prieuré de Saint Cosme, Indre-et Loire, France (solo exhibition)

Zao Wou-Ki: Céramiques et oeuvres sur papier, Marlborough Monaco, Monte-Carlo, Monaco (solo exhibition)
Celebrating Zao Wou-Ki, French May Festival, Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong, China (solo exhibition)

Prints and Illustrated Books, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris, France; traveled to Suzhou Museum, Suzhou City, China (solo exhibition)
Hommage à Riopelle et peintures récentes, Musée National des Beaux-arts du Québec, Québec, Canada (solo exhibition)
Paper + China, Marlborough Gallery, New York, New York (solo exhibition)
Retrospective, Bilbiothèque nationale de France, Paris, France (solo exhibition)
Château de Nemours, France

Paintings, Works on Paper, Ceramics 1947-2007, Chateau Musée de Nemours, France (solo exhibition)
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

Art & Imitation in China, The University of Hong Kong, China (solo exhibition)
Black and White Dream – India Ink, Suzhou Museum, Suzhou City, China (solo exhibition)

Paintings and India Ink, 1948-2005, Espace Bellevue, Biarritz, France (solo exhibition)
Retrospective, Bridgestone Museum, Tokyo, Japan (solo exhibition); Bellevue, Biarritz, France (solo exhibition)

Bridgestone Museum of Art, Ishibashi Foundation, Tokyo, Japan (solo exhibition)
The Quest of Silence: Paintings, Musée des Beaux Arts, Dunkerque, France (solo exhibition)
Homages, Musée Fabre, Montpellier, France (solo exhibition)
Prints and Illustrated Books, Musée du Dessin et de l’Estampe Originale, Gravelines, France (solo exhibition)
Retrospective, Musée des beaux-arts, Dunkerque, France (solo exhibition)

Retrospective Wou-ki curated by Markku Valkonen, Taidehalli, Helsinki, Finland (solo exhibition)
Wou-ki Recent Works, Marlborough Gallery, New York,NY, USA (solo exhibition)
Watercolours, Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong, China (solo exhibition)
Retrospective, Musée du Jeu de Paume, Paris, France (solo exhibition)

Signe(s) (regard crise sur des encres d’Henri Michaux à Zao Wou-ki), Kamel Mennour Gallery, Paris, France (solo exhibition)

Recent Inks, Institut Français, Barcelona, Spain (solo exhibition)
Retrospective, IVAM Centre Julio Gonzalez, Valencia, Spain (solo exhibition)
Retrospective, Musée d’Ixelles, Brussels, Belgium (solo exhibition)

Fuji Television Gallery, Tokyo, Japan (solo exhibition)
Musée du Petit-Palais, Paris, France

Paintings of the Last 20 Years, Centre d’Art Plastiques, Royan, France (solo exhibition)
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
Graphic Works, Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong, China (solo exhibition)
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
Retrospective, organized by Association Française d’Action Artistique, L’Oréal and the Shanghai Museum of Art, Shanghai, China; traveled to the Chinese Palace of Fine Arts, Beijing, China; and Palace of Fine Arts, Canton, China (solo exhibition)
Paintings, India Ink, Prints, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Angers, France (solo exhibition)

Galerie Krugier-Ditesheim & Cie, Geneva, Switzerland (solo exhibition)
Lin & Keng Gallery, Taipei, China (solo exhibition)
Galerie Thessa Herold, Paris, France (solo exhibition)

A 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)

Henri Michaux/Zao Wou-ki, une rencontre-une amitié Galerie Lucien Schweitzer, Luxembourg
Zao Wou-Ki, Cuarenta años de pintura, 1954-1994, Centro Cultural de Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City, Mexico (solo exhibition)
Paintings and Drawing in Indian Ink, Centro Cultural de Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City, Mexico (solo exhibition)

Wou-Ki Retrospective, The Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, Taiwan (solo exhibition)
First gallery exhibition in Hong Kong, Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong, China (solo exhibition)

Works from 1980s, 1990s, Artcurial Gallery, Paris, France

Retrospective, Musée des beaux-arts, Tours, France (solo exhibition)

Wou-Ki, Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, Metz, France (solo exhibition)
Retrospective show, Artcurial Gallery, Paris, France (solo exhibition)
Paintings and Drawing in Indian Ink, Galerie Krugier Diteschen, Geneva, Switzerland (solo exhibition)

Fuji Television Gallery, Tokyo, Japan (solo exhibition)

Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York, NY, USA (solo exhibition)
Galerie de France, Paris, France
Korea (solo exhibition)

Krugier Gallery, Geneva, Switzerland (solo exhibition)
Wou-Ki, 1984, Galerie de France, Paris, France (solo exhibition)

Presentation of Collection of works, National Museum of History, Taiwan, China (solo exhibition)
Wou-Ki ou se Libérer du Connu, Musée Ingres, Montauban, France; traveled to Espace des Cordeliers, Châteauroux, France; the National Museum of Fine Arts, Beijing, China; and Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts, Hangzhou, China (solo exhibition)

Paintings by Zao Wou-Ki, 1954-1981, Hong Kong Arts Center, Hong Kong (solo exhibition)
Wou-Ki, A Solo Exhibition of Paintings, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore (solo exhibition)

Wou-Ki: Paintings, India Ink, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris, France; traveled through Japan to Fukuoka Art Museum, Fukuoka; Grand Art Gallery, Tokyo-Nihonbashi, Tokyo; Fukui Prefectural Museum of Art, Fukui; National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto; and Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura (solo exhibition)

Large Paintings by Zao Wou-Ki, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Charleroi, Belgium (solo exhibition)
Large Paintings, 1964-1979, Musée d’Histoire et d’Art, Luxembourg, Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg (solo exhibition)
Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York, NY, USA

14 paintings on exhibit, Fuji Television Gallery, Tokyo, Japan

Wou-Ki, Delta International Art Center, Beirut, Lebanon (solo exhibition)
Accrochage III, Musée national d’art moderne Centre Pompidou, Paris, France
Wou-Ki, 1971-1975, Galerie de France, Paris, France (solo exhibition)

Wou-Ki: Paintings, Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, Neuchâtel, Switzerland (solo exhibition)

Wou-Ki: Paintings, Sommerakademie für Bildende Kunst, Salzburger Künstlerhaus, Salzburg, Austria (solo exhibition)
Recent Works by Zao Wou-Ki, Galerie de France, Paris, France (solo exhibition)

Wou-Ki, Musée d’Art Contemporain, Montréal, Canada (solo exhibition)

Paintings by Zao Wou-Ki, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California (solo exhibition)

Wou-Ki – Recent Works, Galerie de France, Paris, France (solo exhibition)

Wou-Ki: A Retrospective, Paintings 1950-1964, Folkwang Museum, Essen, Germany (solo exhibition)
Wou-Ki: Watercolors, Engravings, Lithographs, Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna, Austria (solo exhibition)

Kootz Gallery, New York, NY, USA
Galerie de France, Paris, France

Wou-Ki, The Cincinnati Museum of Fine Arts, Cincinnati, Ohio (solo exhibition)

Galerie Pierre, Paris, France
Exhibitions in Washington, D.C., Chicago, IL, New York, NY, Basel, Switzerland, Lausanne, Switzerland, and London, UK

Shanghai, China (solo exhibition)