Short Biography of Guan Zilan

Guan Zilan (1903-1986) was born in Shanghai of turbulent late Qing Dynasty. Since her parents were involved in pattern design of textile, Guan was emerged in an artistic atmosphere as a young kid. During her education in China College of Arts[1], one of her early works received great praise in the school-held exhibition. Following her instructor Chen Baoyi’s advice, Guan went to Japan to explore her path of painting[2], and began to be deeply influenced by Fauvism, which laid the foundation for her future style.[3] Similar to the works of Henri Matisse, Guan’s oil paintings usually consist of contrasting vivid colors and simplified abstraction, as we can see in one of her famous works “Portrait of Miss L.”[4] Guan was also among the first group of Chinese artists who brought Henri Matisse’s Fauvism to China, and combined the western painting style with the traditional Chinese subjects[5]. Guan stayed in mainland China after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, and she kept her western lifestyle like drinking coffee and wearing perfume until her death in 1986.


[1] Andrews, Julia Frances., and Kuiyi Shen. “Art in the New Culture of the 1920s.” The Art of Modern China. Berkeley: U of California, 2012. 70-71. Print.

[2] Andrews, Julia Frances., and Kuiyi Shen. “Art in the New Culture of the 1920s.” The Art of Modern China. Berkeley: U of California, 2012. 70-71. Print.

[3] ” Zilan Guan.” Zilan Guan. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Sept. 2014. <http://www.askart.com/askart/artist.aspx?artist=11170819>.

[4] Guan, Zilan. Portrait of Miss L. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Sept. 2014. <http://huntingtonarchive.osu.edu/Exhibitions/5000years/indxs/mod/modoilpgs/C4060.html>. Portrait of Miss L

[5] “Human Without God.” : Between Extraordinary & Ordinary. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Sept. 2014. <http://humanwithoutgod.blogspot.com/2011/12/between-greatest-most-ordinary-forgot.html>.