AAH-194 Visual Culture in Communist China

A Union College Art History Course, Spring 2023

Tag: Zao Wou-Ki

“Fondation” Zao Wou Ki

https://www.zaowouki.org/en/ (“Zao Wou-Ki Foundation”) is a website dedicated to the renowned Chinese-French artist Zao Wou Ki (1921 – 2013). The website features a wide range of information about Zao Wou Ki, including but not limited to his works, biography, bibliography, and public collections. Apart from the artist himself, it includes information of the Zao Wou Ki foundation, including its mission, administration, certificate, catalogue raisonné, and counterfeiting and forgery notice. On top of that, it includes information on ongoing and future exhibitions across the world. The chairperson of Zao Wou Ki foundation is Mrs. Françoise Marquet-Zao, 4th and the latest wife of Zao Wou Ki.

I have come across many information that other websites, journals, and scholarly articles captured, and what’s more was that I was able to locate painting easily as they were organized in a collective manner. For example, I had to visit many sources to locate specific paintings of Zao and some of them were hard to find. However, the website contained pretty much every painting that is needed for my research.

Thanks to this website, I learned that Zao Wou Ki not only painted with inks, oil, and water color, but also created prints and ceramics. My previous analysis of the artist’s work had been limited to paintings, but now I am able to analyze prints and ceramics.

[Service Diane 1979 – ceramic collections created by Zao Wou-Ki]

The additional analysis would either strengthen my views on progress of the artist, or create a new sense of direction in which the artist’s style and vies of art has changed. Regardless of which outcome, it would definitely be a valuable resources to my research.



Zao Wou-Ki Foundation. “Zao Wou-Ki Foundation”. Zao Wou-Ki Foundation, accessed May 5, 2023. https://www.zaowouki.org/en/the-foundation/ .

Zao Wou-Ki

  Zao Wou-Ki (赵无极), was a Chinese-French painter. He is known for is abstract paintings that combined traditional Chinese calligraphy with  Western modernist techniques. His early works were heavily influenced by Chinese landscape paintings, but later incorporated elements of Western art, such as use of color and abstraction.

He born in Beijing in 1920, but his family moved to Shanghai shortly after. He graduated from Hangzhou School of Fine arts in 1941, which was forced to relocate to Chongqing in 1938 due to the second Sino-Japanese war. In 1948, he ended up in Paris to extend his artistic studies. This period of time is also known as the Chinese civil war period between the nationalists and the communists. He was also present in the May 1968 protests in France, and the Tiananmen square protests, both having great on French and Chinese culture and politics, respectively.

Although not strictly aligned with any artistic movement, he was a member of”Chinese School of Artists”, a group of Chinese artists in Paris between 1950-1960 who were looking for ways to merge traditional Chinese art techniques with Western modernist approaches.

[June-October 1985, one of the most well-known artwork by Zao Wou-ki. Source: https://www.sothebyscn.com.cn/en/articles/zao-wou-ki-by-the-numbers]

Zao was one of the first Chinese artists to achieve global recognition for his art, and his art can be found in numerous museums and collections in more than 20 countries. His cross-cultural and innovative combinations of painting techniques have inspired a lot who came after him.



“Inside the Mind of an Introvert.” YouTube video. Posted by TED-Ed, January 8, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2u3K5xewOM

Pollack, Barbara. Brand New Art from China: A Generation on the Rise. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018.

Zao Wou-Ki foundation. Biography. Zao Wou-Ki Foundation, n.d. https://www.zaowouki.org/en/the-artist/biography/

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