• 19 Jun 2018

From June 1st 2018 to January 6th 2019, the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris organizes the exhibition Zao Wou-Ki Space is silence. Close to forty large sized Artworks were put together for this first great exhibition in Paris in 15 years.

Zao Wou-Ki's 1974 Artwork

Zao Wou-Ki, 12.03.74, 1974 © ADAGP, Paris, 2018

Zao Wou-Ki: a one-of-a-kind French-Chinese Artist

Born in China in 1920, Zao Wou-Ki arrived in Paris in 1948 where he made almost all of his Artworks. Painter and engraver, he was deeply influenced by Monet’s “Nymphéas” at the Orangerie Museum in Paris. This experience of color inspired his Artworks and particularly the ones that are displayed in his dedicated exhibition. The large sized paintings are put in the spotlight at the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris which pointed out the fact that French Institutions rarely dedicated exhibition to the French-Chinese painter. Purposely, this Artist did not embrace any Art movement of his time. Indeed, it was more the creative process that interested him. Although classical landscape Chinese painting was part of his education, his Artworks interact more with the American Expressionists’’ ones such as Jackson Pollock.

The Zao Wou-Ki Space is silence exhibition: a perspective on large formats

The Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris decided to put the large sized canvases of Zao Wou-Ki in the spotlight to emphasize the pictorial conversation the Artist had with movements such as abstract Expressionism. As a result, the exhibition starts with Artworks the Artist made when he began to use a new way of expression that is closer to the abstract. Indeed, François Michaud and Erik Verhagen, the exhibition’s curators, chose to open the show with a 1956 painting entitled “Traversée des apparences”. The Artwork was made right before the Artist’s first trip to the United States of America. The Artist was then deeply influenced by his search for a space that is ever wider. Such immensity can be seen in long painting movements, colors splashing all over the canvas. Towards the end of his life, Zao Wou-Ki used Chinese ink to make rare drawings on large sized canvases, four of which are part of the exhibition. The idea is to present the Artist in all his complexity.

Zao Wou-Ki's 1974 Artwork

Zao Wou-Ki, Going through appearances, 1956 © ADAGP, Paris, 2018

An Artist who has been ignored for a long time

Since Zao Wou-Ki is a unique Artist, purposely out of any artistic movement, he has been ignored for a long time by several Institutions in France as well as abroad. However, for the past few years, and especially in China, the Artworks’ prices have been skyrocketing. Indeed, a 25.9 million dollars record has been set in November 2017 by Christie’s Hong Kong. Nevertheless, thirty years ago, the Artist was very far from these prices. It is one of the consequences of the recent expansion of the Fine Arts market in China. In that context, Art-Trope dedicated an article to Chinese new collectors. However, this recent bubble built around the French-Chinese Artist did not lead to many exhibitions dedicated to the unique Artworks of this original Artist. The Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris intends to change the narrative by paying tribute to the Artist after years of ignorance.

Zao Wou-Ki's 1974 Artwork

Zao Wou-Ki, 03.05.75 – 01.07.85, 1975-1985 © ADAGP, Paris, 2018


Read our article about the auction of the last Artworks of the Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé exhibition by Sotheby’s Paris here.

Sources: Le Monde, Télérama and the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris