Zao Wou-Ki

Zao Wou-Ki

Zao Wou-Ki was lauded throughout his career for his ability to unite multiple artistic traditions within a single work, marrying Eastern and Western approaches to art-making through his abstract compositions that retained hints of his training as a landscape painter. Zao was born in Peking (Beijing) in 1920 and began to study at National Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou at the age of 15. In 1948, the artist moved to Paris, where he would live for the rest of his life, and soon began to exhibit internationally.

Zao worked predominantly in oils, watercolor, and ink, but also experimented with engraving and lithography. While formally trained in traditional Chinese techniques, Zao’s early encounters with the work of Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and Paul Cézanne, as well as his friendships with Henri Michaux and Paul Klee, greatly influenced and expanded his creative endeavors.

Zao was a member of the esteemed Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In 2006, former French President Jacques Chirac bestowed the artist with France’s highest accolade, the Legion of Honor. During his lifetime, Zao exhibited at the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris (2003) and the Musée national des beaux arts du Québec (2008). The artist died in Switzerland in 2013. In 2016 he was posthumously celebrated with a retrospective at the Asia Society Museum, New York. Zao’s work is part of the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Tate Modern, London, in addition to many other institutions.


Selected Works

  • 27-10-1981 (detail of)
    Oil on canvas
    39 3/8 x 31 7/8 inches (100 x 81 cm)


Selected Press

Hamptons Art Hub | ART REVIEW: De Kooning and Zao Wou-Ki Paintings Trace Paths to Abstraction

February 7, 2017

East meets West is an ancient theme in the arts: Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” and

Cultured | Second Act

February 1, 2017

It might not be known to those who aren’t involved in the art market, but some of the biggest collectors …

Artnet | Lévy Gorvy Demonstrates Art World Clout at Inaugural New York Exhibition

January 20, 2017

A little over a month after the formation of what is predicted to be one of the most formidable art …


The Meeting of Edgard Varèse and Charlie Paker

March 22, 2017

Special concert led by Peter Evans, in celebration of the exhibition 'Willem de Kooning | Zao Wou-Ki.'




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