Zao Wou-Ki, whose real name was T’chao Wou-Ki, was born in 1920 into a family of Chinese intellectuals. He began to paint and draw at the age of ten. The grandfather of Wou-Ki played an essential role in the young boy’s artistic education by introducing him to the art of calligraphy. In 1935, Zao Wou-Ki, like Chu Teh-Chun, joined the Hangzhou College of Fine Arts (founded by Lin Fengmian), where he learned Chinese traditional techniques as well as Western painting. The latest European pictorial explorations exerted an inexorable attraction on the young man, who decided to leave for France in 1948.
On the strength of his excellent artistic education, he went to Paris in 1948 to hone his eye and forge his own style, while admiring the Louvre’s masterpieces. Zao Wou-Ki remains one of the few artists to enjoy spectacular success during his lifetime. With retrospectives, large exhibitions, catalogues raisonnés and commissions from the Manufacture de Sèvres, he was a highly successful painter with an international reputation. Zao Wou-Ki became a French citizen in 1962.
From his abstract canvases to his powerful ink drawings of China, Zao Wou-Ki became the master of an art with dual dimensionality.
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