Zao Wou-Ki 

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BIOGRAPHY 1994-2001


In Mexico City at the Centro Cultural Arte Contemporaneo Zao Wou-Ki exhibited paintings and works in Indian ink, Zao Wou-Ki, cuarenta años de pintura 1954-1994. Catalogue preface by Robert R. Littman and text by Pierre Schneider.

Exhibition at Artcurial, Paris, Zao Wou-Ki, Parcours dans 1’oeuvre gravé, 1950-1992.

In Pérouges, at the Maison de Prince, Zao Wou-Ki showed thirteen paintings and five works in Indian ink.

Zao Wou-Ki was awarded the 1994 Japan Art Association’s Premium Imperial Award of Painting. The jury consisted of Jacques Chirac, Helmut Schmidt, Amintore Fanfani, Edward Heath, Yasuhiro Nakasone and David Rockefeller Jr.

The Graphic Work - A Catalogue Raisonné 1937-1994

by Jørgen Ågerup - published by Edition Heede & Moestrup


In Zaragoza, Spain, Zao Wou-Ki had a retrospective at the Caja de Ahorros.

He exhibited at the Maison de la Culture in Nevers at the request of Pierre Bérégovoy, former prime minister of France. The Ministère de Postes issued a stamp with a reproduction of a watercolour by Zao Wou-Ki.

The company LVMH awarded him the Prix de Science pour l’Art.

Galerie Thessa Herold and Galerie Jan Krugier-Ditesheim selected some of Zao Wou-Ki’s works for the FIAC, Paris.

Galerie Lucien Schweitzer in Luxembourg had an exhibition: Henri Michaux/Zao Wou-Ki, une rencôntre – amitié, deux jeux d’écriture.



A retrospective exhibition organized by Daniel Marchesseau opened in January at the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan. Subsequently it was shown at the Hong Kong Museum of Art. There was also an exhibition at Alisan Fine Arts Limited, Hong Kong.

There was an exhibition in Féz, Morocco, at the Musée des Arts Traditionels de Batha, and in Bruxelles at Galerie J. Bastien. In New York at the Jan Krugier Gallery Zao Wou-Ki had an exhibition, Hommage à Pierre Matisse, works in Indian ink along with texts by Maria Gaetana Matisse and I.M. Pei. This exhibition was repeated the following year in Geneva at Galerie Jan Krugier-Ditesheim.

A monograph by Pierre Daix, Zao Wou-Ki, was published by Ides et Calendes, Neuchâtel.



Zao Wou-Ki accompanied President Jacques Chirac on a visit to China. Galerie Jan Krugier-Ditesheim and Galerie Marwan Hoss showed works by Zao Wou-Ki at the FIAC, Paris, and in Taipei he had an exhibition at the Lin and Keng Gallery.

He travelled to Shanghai to participate in the planning of a major retrospective scheduled for October 1998, then to Kyoto for the inauguration of the Miyo Museum, designed by his friend I.M. Pei, the architect.

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Zao Wou-Ki’s arrival in Paris, Galerie Thessa Herold exhibited some of his recent paintings. The catalogue was prefaced by Yves Bonnefoy, La Pensée de Zao Wou-Ki.



In Madrid, at the ARCO’98, Galerie Thessa Herold showed paintings and large works in Indian ink by Zao Wou-Ki.

The Metropolitano de Lisboa opened its Orient Line. In this new underground railway line public art has been taken in special consideration, and at the Orient Station a huge ceramic tile panel by Zao Wou-Ki epitomizes the serenity of the immensity of the oceans.

At the Musée des Beaux-Art in Angers there was a comprehensive retrospective of Zao Wou-Ki’s paintings, at Salle Chemellier: works in Indian ink from 1979-1995, and at Musée Pincé: prints and illustrated books.

The Museum of Shanghai exhibited 105 paintings by Zao Wou-Ki: Retrospective Zao Wou-Ki – 60 years of painting. The catalogue was prefaced by Jacques Chirac, President of the Republic of France. Daniel Marchesseau, chief curator of the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, was responsible for the exhibition and the catalogue.

Two monographs were issued, one by Éditions de la Différence with texts by Yves Bonnefoy and Gérard de Cortanze, another by Cherche Midi in its series Couleurs et mots.



Retrospective Zao Wou-Ki – 60 years of painting was repeated in Beijing and in Canton.

An exhibition Zao Wou-Ki: Les vingt dernières années took place at Centre d’Art Plastic, Royan.

In Figeac there was an exhibition of his works in Indian ink.

The Lin and Keng Gallery in Taipei showed Zao Wou-Ki: Works from 1948 – 1999.



The Lecture Notes of Zao Wou-Ki were published in China by Guangxi Fine Arts Publishing House.

Galerie Thessa Herold showed the works of Zao Wou-Ki at the FIAC in Paris.

At the exhibition Chine, la gloire des empereurs at Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris an entire room was devoted to works by Zao Wou-Ki. They constitued a magnificent connecting link between contemporary art and the past.

He had personal exhibitions at Fuji Television Gallery in Tokyo, at Lungmen Art Gallery in Taipei, and at Galerie Marwan Hoss in Paris. At the art fair in Basle works of Zao Wou-Ki were shown by Galerie Jan Krugier-Ditesheim.

Éditions Cercle d’Art published the book Zao Wou-Ki, Grands Formats with a text by Bernard Noël.



Centre Georges Pompidou, Musée National d’Art Moderne, showed Signes, traces, écritures: d’Alechinsky à Zao Wou-Ki.

There was a retrospective at IVAM in Valencia, Spain. It was repeated at Musée d’Ixelles, Bruxelles.

After 64 years of dedication to his graphic work, Zao Wou-Ki has decided to let it come to an end. He intends to present a young artist with his engraving tools.

The Graphic Work 1995-2000 - is the definitive supplement to

The Graphic Work - A Catalogue Raisonné 1937-1994

by Jørgen Ågerup - published by Edition Heede & Moestrup



Zao Wou-Ki was born in Beijing in 1921. Tsao Wou-Ki (Wou-Ki being his first name ) became Zao Wou-Ki, when he came to France. The ancient Tsao family goes back to the Song dynasty(tenth-twelfth century A.D.). Every year the family gathered to celebrate the birthday of their famous ancestor, the King Swallow and Nightingale, brother of the Emperor. On that occasion the family treasures were displayed. They consisted of two paintings, one by Chao Mong-Fu (1254-1322), famous for his paintings on paper and on silk representing horses ,the other by Mi Fei (1051-1107) who particularly fascinated the young Zao Wou-Ki. He still admires him and regards him as one of the greatest Chinese painters ever.Mi Fei, he says, was above all "a painter with his own way of looking at things and a great calligrapher".


Zao Wou-Ki went to school at Nantung, a small town north of Shanghai, where his father worked as a banker. He was considered a gifted pupil and he took great interest in literature, Chinese history and world history. From the age of ten he drew and painted constantly. At times he was reproached for this, but his urge to paint was never thwarted. His father, who was an amateur painter, had once won a prize at an international art exhibition in Panama. Only his mother was less enthusiastic. She was furious when her son daubed paint over the plates of her seventeenth-century dinner service, and she certainly did not want him to become a painter. His family was one of these intellectuals who appreciated painting. He learned from his grandfather that calligraphy is an art as long as it is alive and as long as it transmits emotion. When Zao Wou-Ki was learning the Chinese characters, his grandfather used to draw on the back of each ideogram a sketch of the object it symbolised.


At the age of fourteen , Zao Wou-Ki was admitted to the School of Fine Arts at Hangzhou after passing the entrance examination, for which he had to draw a Greek statue from a plaster cast. He was there for six years. The first three years were devoted to drawing from plaster casts, the next two years to drawing from a model and in the final year the pupils were introduced to oil painting. The students also received education in traditional Chinese painting by studying the theories of calligraphy and western perspective. Zao Wou-Ki did not wait for his sixth school year, though, before he began to practice oil painting. Only a year after entering the school he was painting landscapes at home for his own satisfaction and he also did some portaits of his little sister. At the School of Fine Arts at Hangzhou the Chinese teachers taught the traditional painting of the Ming and Qing dynasties, just as western teachers would teach in the manner of The Royal Academy in Brussels or The School of Fine Arts in Paris. In spite of the bias against accuracy and realism, Zao Wou-Ki sought to capture the broad outlines and the essence of the composition . He wanted to "seize the heart of the matter". The style of painting which he was being taught, seemed to him to be far away from real life.


Having finished his studies, Zao Wou-Ki was immediately appointed lecturer at the school where he had received his training. It was also in 1941 that he held his first exhibition in Chungking. He had incurred debts on that occasion, but his father was the first to buy a picture , thereby enabling his son to repay the money he had borrowed from him. This is Zao Wou-Ki's own opinion about those early pictures:"To tell the truth, the pictures I showed were strongly influenced by Matisse and Picasso. My harlequins recalled the "blue" period, my statue women ,the "Greek "period". Indeed, it was in Cézanne, Matisse and Picasso that Zao Wou-Ki was to find the vision he considered the closest to nature." He was a collector of postcards with reproductions of French paintings. His uncle brought them along on his trips to Paris.Together with full-page illustrations (Renoir, Modigliani, Cézanne, Matisse, Picasso) from the American magazines such as Life, Harper's, Bazaar and Vogue, which could be bought in China at that time, they became what Zao Wou-Ki called his models. Neither traditional Chinese painting, nor academic art appeared to offer the solution to the problems he had set himself. Instead, he turned to Cézanne and Matisse. He developed his approach from these two painters who are, he says, the ones closest to his temperament.


In Chungking he organized an exhibition at the National Museum of Natural History, at which he presented works by Lin Feng-Mien, Wa Ta-Yu (his principal at the School of Fine Arts), Kouang Leang, Ting Yin-Yong and Lin Kuang-Tang, as well as some of his own. This exhibition was the first attempt to show the work of living artists who wanted to break away from tradition. It was well received by a public of intellectuals and young painters.


For China this was a crucial year, which saw the end of the Japanese occupation. The School of Fine Arts, which had moved from Hangzhou to Chungking in 1938, returned to its former premises. Zao Wou-Ki went with it.


Before leaving China, he organized an individual exhibition in Shanghai. On reaching the age of twenty-seven he decided-with his father's approval - to go to Paris. All he had done until then, he says, was to serve his apprenticeship.


With his wife, Lan-Lan, Zao Wou-Ki sailed from Shanghai on February 26th and landed at Marseilles after a voyage of thirty-six days. He arrived in Paris on the morning of April lst and spent the afternoon of the same day in the Louvre. At first he stayed provisionally in series of hotel in Montparnasse, but then settled definitively into a little studio in the Rue du Moulin-Vert, near that of Alberto Giacometti. He went to the Alliance Française for French lessons and also attended the Académie de la Grande-Chaumière, where his nude studies were corrected by Emile Othon-Friesz. He wanted to see everything and visit everything, whether in Paris or in the provinces. It was there - in France, in Paris - that he believes he found his true personality. He could not have done so elsewhere, and yet he is quite prepared to admit that it was also a discovery made by chance. When he arrived from China, however, it was in Paris that he chose to settle - because, he says ,of Impressionism, for which he has always had a great tenderness. When Zao Wou-Ki speaks today of that moment in his life, it is with enthusiasm and gaiety, as he recalls the friends he made, gradually realizing that he was participating in something important that was happening then and finding in it the echo of his own research. Everyone, he says, arrived in Paris between 1946 and 1948. Sam Francis and Norman Blum came from New York and Jean-Paul Riopelle from Canada; Pierre Soulages came up from Rodez; Hans Hartung and Nicolas de Staël, already very well-known, as well as Vieira da Silva, also belonged to this world. The Galerie Nina Dausset, in the Rue du Dragon, was one of the places where they all used to gather.


In February 1949 he was awarded the first prize in a drawing competition, the judges of which were Lhôte and Gromaire. At that time he still did not understand French perfectly, and it was the man sitting next to him who told him to stand up and go forward to receive his prize, which consisted of a series of histories of western painting published by Albert Skira. It was also about this time, that he first came into contact with the Desjobert printing- house, where he discovered and learned the technique of lithography, which fascinated him. While he was a teacher in Chungking, Zao Wou-Ki had met Vadime Elisseeff, future chief curator of the Musée Cernuschi, but at that time a cultural attaché. He had seen the young artist's work and had strongly encouraged him to come to Paris. Vadime Elisseeff was actually so enthusiastic that when he returned to France, he brought with him some twenty of his friend's oil paintings, which he exhibited at the Musée Cernsuchi in 1946. And when Zao Wou-Ki had his first Parisian exhibition, at the Galerie Creuze in May 1949 , it was Vadime Elisseeff who arranged to have the preface for the catalogue written by Bernard Dorival, curator of the Musée National d'Art Moderne. One of the notable phrases from this preface reads:"Chinese in their essence, modern and French in some of their aspects, the pictures of Zao Wou-Ki succeed in creating a most enjoyable synthesis."


On January 4th 1950, Henri Michaux brought Pierre Loeb to visit the painter at his studio. Loeb went away without saying anything , but returned three months later to buy twelve canvases from him and to offer him a contract. Zao Wou-Ki was to work with Pierre Loeb from 1950 till 1957. Accomplished in 1949 at the Desjobert printing-house, the first eight lithographs done by Zao Wou-Ki were exhibited at the Galerie La Hune in Paris in 1950. Published by Robert J.Godet, who had shown them to Henri Michaux when they came off the press, they were presented, accompanied by eight poems by Henri Michaux, in a volume entitled Lecture de huit lithographies de Zao Wou-Ki. Another album, of six lithographs, was published at the same time to illustrate a text by Harry Roskolenko, Paris-Poems. From that time on, Zao Wou-Ki and Henri Michaux were to be linked in uninterrupted friendship. In 1950, Zao Wou-Ki also particpated for the first time in the Salon de Mai, at which he was to exhibit regularly every year after that.


In 1951, the Swiss publisher Nesto Jacometti organized an exhibition of engravings at two galleries in Bern and Geneva. On this occasion Zao Wou-Ki visited Switzerland for the first time and in the museums there discovered the paintings of Paul Klee, which he hardly knew. This was an important moment in his evolution as a painter. In the work of this artist he found an intimate, inner world that came close to his own sensibility. He declares now that he followed a very similar path. Paul Klee, influenced by Chinese art and its use of signs, led Zao Wou-Ki to enter the universe of western painting. Through Paul Klee he found the way to express what he had already felt within him in China, when he was so attracted by the drawings of his little sister. Thus Zao Wou-Ki got to know western painting through an artist who had himself chosen to follow the path of Chinese painting.


In the course of the year 1951 and 1952, Zao Wou-Ki painted comparatively little, because he was travelling extensively. He says that for him travelling - which is at once a break and an opening - means a reconciliation with himself in which he finds a balance. In June 1951, he discovered Italy; he did not go there simply to taste the joys of life, but to see the paintings in the Italian galleries. First he went to Tuscany, then to Rome, Pompeii, Naples and Ischia.On these journeys, he saw a space in which the perspectives changed before the viewer's eyes, as they do in Chinese painting. The following year he visited Spain. From 1952, Zao Wou-Ki work was regularly exhibited in Paris at the Galerie Pierre in the Rue des Beaux-Arts. He also held exhibitions in the United States (Washington, Chicago and New York), in Switzerland (Basel and Lausanne) and in London. Henri Michaux wrote the preface for the catalogue of his first exhibition at the Cadby-Birch Gallery in New York :"To display while concealing, to break the direct line and make it tremble, to trace in idleness the twists and turns of a walk and the doodlings of a dreaming spirit, that is what Zao Wou-Ki loves; and then, suddenly, with the same air of festivity that enlivens the Chinese countryside and villages, the picture appears, quivering joyously and rather amusingly in a garden of signs."


In 1953, Zao Wou-Ki did a setting for Roland Petit's Ballets de Paris (La Perle, a ballet in one act: story by Louise de Vilmorin, choreography by Victor Gsovsky, music by Claude Pascal). They must have asked him to do it, he says, because his "Far Eastern"origins evoked an exotic world. But what made the year 1953 and 1954 remarkable was the change that took place in his painting "My painting ", he said in 1976, speaking of his earlier days, "became illegible. Still lifes and flowers were no longer there. I was tending towards an imaginary, indecipherable writing." It is the work itself one must question if one wishes to understand this passage. His dealer, Pierre Loeb, sold none of his work for a year and a half: the collectors seemed to have lost all interest in it.


Visits to Switzerland and Brittany. On November 22nd, the Museum of Cincinnati presented a retrospective exhibition of his engraved work, of which Nesto Jacometti was to publish a catalogue raisonné; in the following year. Alain Jouffroy wrote, in Arts:"The work of Zao Wou-Ki shows us clearly how the Chinese vision of the universe, in which the blurred and the far-off reflects the spirit of contemplation rather than the thing contemplated, has become a modern, universal vision. And men as different as Paul Klee, Mark Tobey or Henri Michaux have likewise had recourse to it."


In 1955, he made the acquaintance of Edgar Varèse, the composer, and the two men became close friends. A year before Varèse's death, in 1964, Zao Wou-Ki was to paint a canvas in homage to his friend.


The years 1957 and part of 1958 were years of traveling for Zao Wou-Ki. As a result of personal difficulties, he decided to leave Paris for an indefinite period. He went to the United States, to New York first of all. There he stayed with his brother, who had been living in that city from the age of seventeen. He made the acquaintance of the art dealer Samuel Kootz and also visited several artists who became his friends: Franz Kline , Conrad Marca- Relli, Guston, Philip, Gottlieb, Baziotes, Steinberg, J.Brooks and Hans Hoffman. American painting, particularly that of the New York School, seemed to him to be more instinctive and spontaneous than European painting. He found a great freshness in it. After his stay in New York, he set out, with his friends Pierre and Colette Soulages, for Washington, Chicago and San Francisco, where he visited the museums and was astonished to find so many French paintings. After staying for ten days on an island near Hawaii, he went on to Japan, where he spent three weeks in Tokyo,Kyoto and Nara.


When he arrived in Hongkong, he met Chan May Kan. While Pierre and Colettes Soulages continued their journey to India, Zao Wou-Ki stayed in Hongkong for six months and married May, who became his second wife. Though Zao Wou-Ki was still in Hongkong, the American dealer Samuel Kootz accompanied by Gildo Caputo and Myriam Prévot visited his studio in Paris. In 1957, the painter was under contract to Kootz, and he exhibited regulary at his New York gallery until 1967 (when it closed down). When he returned from his travels he was also under contract to the Galerie de France. A friendship had developed between Zao Wou-Ki and Gildo Caputo and Myriam Prévot,whom he had met at the Galerie La Hune in 1950. In 1955, when he was still with Galerie Pierre ,they invited him to work with them, and Zao Wou-Ki accepted. In 1957, after coming to an agreement with Pierre Loeb, Zao Wou-Ki came under exclusive contract to the Galerie de France. Recognizing his great talent, Gildo Caputo and Myriam Prévot saw in Zao Wou-Ki an artist who contributed to the cause they were championing:lyrical abstraction (a choice that had already been made by the Galerie Drouin, and later by the Galerie Bulliet- Caputo). With contributions by diverse talents, this movement in painting constituted a unity in which Zao Wou-Ki might give one of the directions. He returned from Hongkong in August with his new wife, May, after detours to Thailand, Greece and Italy, as well as to Brussels to hear a performance of Varèse's music.


He visited New York again for the opening of an exhibition of his works at the Kootz Gallery. He went there almost every year after that, until 1965. On his return to Paris at the end of 1959, he started looking around for a new studio, since the one he had in the Rue du Moulin-Vert was really too small for him. In the Rue Jonquoy he found a warehouse, which was converted into a studio and home for him by the architect Georges Johannet (who had already designed a studio for Vieira da Silva and was later to do one for Hadju.)


Consisting as it does of two separate buildings (only one of them giving on to the street), which are linked by the garden between them, Zao Wou-Ki house gives no hint from the outside that it is an artist's place of work. On the street side one is confronted by a blank concrete facade, and it is only after walking through the first building that the visitor finds himself, to his surprise, in a garden with trees, a pool and statues, before entering the part reserved for living quarters. A large, bare room, without any windows on to the street (though there is one, heavily curtained, on to the garden), the studio was designed as a place of isolation without any opening on to the outside world; the light comes from above, as in all natural spaces, and it is a place of meditation where no whisper of life outside can penetrate or disturb. The finished canvases are all placed facing the wall. The studio is a place where Zao Wou-Ki paints alone, for he cannot bear to have anybody looking on until the works is finished.


In 1962,when André Malraux was Minister for Culture, Zao Wou-Ki was commissioned by a publisher to illustrate La Tentation de l'Occident with ten lighographs. On this occasion Zao Wou-Ki made the acquaintance of the writer himself and, thanks to his support, was granted French citizenship in 1964. The painter continued his work in engraving in 1965, 1966,1967,1971,1974 and 1975,with illustrations accompanying poetic texts like those of Arthur Rimbaud and Saint-John Perse, René Char, Jean Laude and Roger Caillois. His fame as a painter grew steadily as he continued to work in the solitude of his studio, seeing mostly the same old friends, to whom he was extremerly faithful. But as from 1963 or 1964, Zao Wou-Ki had to postpone his journeys of discovery, as his work was taking up more and more of his time. Besides, May was ill, and Zao Wou-Ki's life began to be regulated by the ups and downs of his wife's health, so that painting sometimes offered him a release.


In 1964, Zao Wou-Ki painted a very large picture as an act of homage to his friend Edgar Varèse, who died the following year. He also visited Amsterdam during this year, for there was an important exhibition there of works by Vermeer and Rembrandt which he wished to see again: then he went on to Vienna for an exhibition of paintings by Brueghel. He visited New York again, where he had many meetings with a Chinese friend of his , the architect I.M. Pei.


In 1965, Jean-Michel Meurice made a film about Zao Wou-Ki and they became great friends. Meurice showed him his own paintings and Zao Wou-Ki suggested that they should exchange some works, as he used to do with all his other painter friends. In Dublin in 1967, he met Annelee and Barnett Newman ,with whom he also formed a close friendship. In 1950, Claude Roy had been the first collector of Zao Wou-Ki's works before he even knew the painter; by now he was an old friend and in 1967 he collaborated with the artist in publishing a book devoted to Han "stampings" (209 BC to 200 AC). These "stampings "were prints carried out directly on stone, and their subject-matter consisted of anecdotes from the lives of the persons buried beneath them. Zao Wou-Ki considers that in the Chinese tradition, after the bronzes and jades of the archaic period, these stones are the best expression of a genuine Chinese civilization. 1969 was a year of travelling: to Montreal, to Quebec, to the United States (San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York). And Zao Wou-Ki also visited Mexico, where he stayed with his friend Tamayo,whom he had first met in 1950. He was greatly impressed by the Mexican archaeological sites.


In 1970, Zao Wou-Ki was invited to teach at Salzburg, during the Festival, in a municipal seminar founded by Kokoschka. He put a great deal of energy into these activities as a teacher, so much so that he decided not to repeat the experience. The first biography of Zao Wou-Ki, written by his friend Claude Roy and originally published in 1957, was republished in 1970 in Le Musée de Poche with a foreword by Henri Michaux.


In 1971, Zao Wou-Ki did some work in Indian ink. May was now seriously ill and he could not paint.


May died at the beginnning of March 1972 and Zao Wou-Ki left for China on the 25th of the same month. He wished once again to see the family he had left there in 1948. On his return, in July, L'Express published a long interview with Zao Wou-Ki, in the course of which he spoke of his country, of how China had changed since he had first left it and of the other impressions he had had on this visit. He was to visit China again in 1974 and 1975, thanks to the help of the Chinese embassy in Paris and the French embassy in Peking, he brought back some paintings done by peasants in the region of Fuxian. These were exhibited at the Paris Biennale, at which they occupied the whole of the Palais Galliéra.In these works he found an style that went beyond the conventions of social realism, and he believed it was important to show them in Europe. In November 1972, the Galerie de France presented an exhibition of sculptures by May, together with colour-washes and drawings in Indian ink by Zao Wou-Ki. May's memory was evoked in a catalogue that contained tributes from some of their dearest friends.


It was not until the end of 1973 that Zao Wou-Ki hegan to work again. He started to use sizeable formats once more. His 1975 exhibition at the Galerie de France was to bear witness to this moment when Zao Wou-Ki started painting again, after an interruption of a year and a half.


The exhibition at the Galerie de France presented the fruits of all this hard work: oil paintings, some of them enormous. The preface to the catalogue was written by René Char. Zao Wou-Ki returned to China again to see his mother, who was seriously ill. He stayed there for about a fortnight, surrounded by his family. 1975 and 1976 were to be years of intensive output. He painted mostly extremely large-scale works; one of the most important, Homage to André Malraux (200x525cm ), was to be exhibited at the Fuji Television Gallery in Tokyo. The publishing company Arts et Métiers graphiques published the catalogue of his graphic works, which now numbered three hundred prits. The preface, in the form of a stele, was written by Roger Caillois. Simultaneously with this the same company published Randonnée by Roger Caillois, illustrated with five engravings by Zao Wou-Ki.


Before its move from the Palais de Tokyo to the Centre d'Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou, the Musée National d'Art Moderne presented an exhibition that grouped together the works in its collection by one and the same artist. Under the title Accrochage lll a whole room was devoted to Zao Wou-Ki, showing nine paintings done between 1950 and 1975. In this year, too, Ediciones Polígrafa of Barcelona published a text by Roger Caillois entitled A la gloire de l'image accompanying fifteen lithographs by Zao Wou-Ki.


Fourteen pictures, most of them on a sizable scale, were exhibited at the Fuji Television Gallery in Tokyo. The exhibition was dedicated to the memory of Myriam Prévot,one of the directors of the galerie de France, who had died suddenly in the month of July. A catalogue was published with a preface by Henri Michaux and Tamon Miki, curator of the Tokyo Museum of Modern Art. Before going to the opening of this show , Zao Wou-Ki paid a visit to New York with his wife, Françoise Marquet. They spent a great deal of their time there with their old friends I.M. and Eileen Pei, and Sam and Joyce Kootz. Soon after their return to Paris they set out again this time for Rome, on the invitation of their friend Jean Leymarie, Principal of the Villa Medici (the French Academy in Rome). A remarkably beautiful exhibition of works by Nicolas Poussin was on there at the time, and Zao Wou-Ki spent many hours in front of the pictures.


In February of this year, Zao Wou-Ki made the acquaintance of the Baron and Baroness Thyssen-Bornemisza, when they visited Paris for the exhibition of their collection at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la ville de Paris. In March the municipality of Châteauroux, the home town of Zao Wou-Ki's wife, organized an exhibition of engraving at the Town Hall and the Municipal Library. This exhibition, though apparently a modest one, was important because of the interest it aroused among both public and critics alike. During the month of May, Zao Wou-Ki went to Madrid to attend the opening of the exhibition exhibition entitled Homage to Joan Miró organized by the local Museum of Contemporary Art and the National Library. He went there to see Miró and to meet two other old friends, Tàpies and Chillida. Zao Wou-Ki also went to Washington, for the opening of the new East Wing in the National Gallery, designed by his friend I.M.Pei. After this , he spent some time in Amsterdam with Pierre Descargues, in order to prepare a two-hour television programme on Rembrandt for France-Culture. In Paris he made a donation to the National Library, which regrouped his engraved work and completed the collection of his prints in the Cabinet des Estampes. In September, an exhibition of 21 paintings was arranged at the Galerie Joan Paris in Barcelona; the preface for the catalogue was written by Dora Vallier. At the 1978 FIAC, Zao Wou-Ki exhibited for the Galerie de France and for the Atelier Lacourière et Frélaut.


The Bibliothèque National exhibited a selection of eighty prints from Zao Wou-Ki's donation at the honorary exhibition. For the occasion there was a special issue of Nouvelles de l'Estampe with text by Claude Roy and Françoise Woimant. Travel to Italy:Florence, Arezzo, Sienna, Venise. Zao Wou-Ki found no major changes since 1951. By request of Jean-philippe Lecat, Minister of Cultural Affairs and Communication, Zao Wou-Ki executed four sketches in watercolours and Indian ink for the Manufacture National de Sèvres.They were to decorate four different plates in a dinner service. Zao Wou-Ki became acquainted with Roger Taillibert whose work he had admired for a long time. Through Pierre Soulages he met Georges Duby. In the autumn Pierre Matisse visited Zao Wou-Ki's studio. He proposed an exhibition of paintings and drawings in his New York art gallery in 1980. It had been fifteen years since Zao Wou-Ki had last had an exhibition in New York,so he considered the project extremely important.


The Biennale of Venice had an exhibition of paintings by Balthus, organized by Jean Leymarie. This was an opportunity for Zao Wou-Ki to return to Venice for a reunion with his friends. The summer was dedicated to work on a gigantic watercolour commissioned by the State for a school constructed by Roger Taillibert. This was the first time Zao Wou-Ki had executed this kind of work. The space that was offered for the purpose allowed him to produce a fresco painting consisting of nine leaves that unfold like a picture book. It illustrates a prose text by Philippe Jacottet, Beauregard, published by Maeght, illustrated with five original etchings by Zao Wou-Ki. In October he was appointed professor of mural painting at L'Ecole nationale supérieur des Arts décoratifs. In November,the exhibition of paintings and drawings at the Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York took place. The catalogue preface was written by his old friend I.M.Pei.


Zao Wou-Ki finished two triptychs which he had started in the beginning of 1980. They were exhibited at the Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. It was Zao Wou-Ki's first separate exhibition at a French museum. Jean Leymarie, the organizer of the exhibition, wrote the foreword for the catalogue and persuaded Françoise Cheng to write a text. The Society for International Exchange wished to repeat the exhibition at five Japanese museums, so L'Association française d'action artistique decided to arrange a travelling exhibition starting with the Fukuoka City Museum in the autumn.


The second stage of the Japanese exhibition was the Nihonbashi Art Gallery in Tokyo. Zao Wou-Ki was at the opening, and the French Ambassador, la Chevalière, the President of the Society for International Exchange, Mr.Nobutaka Shikanai and the President of the Bridgestone Museum, Mr. Kanichino Ichibashi, were in charge of the inauguration. At the request of Hongkong and Singapore, the A.F.A.A. decided to prolong the exhibitions as the Hongkong Art Center and at the National Museum of Modern Art of Singapore. Zao Wou-Ki and his wife stopped off at Hongkong to attend the opening before they went on to Beijing at the invitation of the Association of Chinese Artists. The entrance to the museum had to be enlarged at the last moment so that the huge paintings could pass through. Zao Wou-Ki and his wife went on to Xian, Peking, Shanghai and Hangzhou. Back in France, Zao Wou-Ki went to Vichy where the library presented an exhibition of his printed work in honour of his friend Roger Caillois.All the works were made available by the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, which possessed a complete collection of Zao Wou-Ki's printed work, including unique prints,all presented by the artist. In October, Zao Wou-Ki went to China, invited by his friend the architect I.M.Pei to attend the inauguration of the Fragrant Hills Hotel. The hotel was situated thirty kilometers outside Beijing in a lush environment which harmonized with the architecture, surrounded by thousands of trees. For this hotel Zao Wou-Ki produced two pictures in Indian ink, 280x360cm. Zao Wou-Ki had only just returned to Paris when he and his wife left again, this time heading for Japan. After attending the inauguration at the National Museum of Kyoto, he visited Nara and Tokyo at the end of the year.



At the beginning of the year, Zao Wou-Ki went to Taipei (Taiwan), where the National Museum of History showed his works, and revisited the Palace Museum which had always fascinated him. Before he left Taiwan he dined with the great master Chang Ta-Chian, who died a few months later. The exhibition in Taipei took place first at the Cultural House of Tai-Nan and afterwards at the County Library of Tai-chung. Pierre Banouse, Director of the Ingres Museum at Montauban, wanted a Zao Wou-Ki exhibition at his museum from June to October. Thus, the paintings, which had been exhibited abroad, completed the retrospective on their return. The Chinese Ministry of Cultural Affairs invited Zao Wou-Ki to exhibit for the first time in his native country and organized, together with the Association of Chinese Artists, an exhibition at the National Museum of Beijing and, simultaneously, at the painter's old school, the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Art at Hangzhou. This made Zao Wou-Ki extremely happy. He asked his friends Yu-Feng and Wu-Zuo-ren to write the preface for the catalogue. He was present at the opening in September. The French Ambassador, Mr.Charles Malo, and the Deputy Minister of Cultural Affairs Mr. Ting were patrons of the exhibition. During his stay he visited Mount Huang, the famous Yellow Mountains. At the F.I.A.C. in Paris, he exhibited his works together with Hanaé Mori's dresses. In October, he was invited by Pierre Daix and Pierre-André Boutang who devoted their programme, Désir des Arts, to Chinese art. At the end of the year, the exhibition of Montauban was repeated in Châteauroux at the Espace des Cordeliers. In the meantime he designed a mosaic, 2x10 meters, a project for the Honoré de Balzac grammar school in Mitry-Mory, built by the architect Roger Taillibert. The mosaic was to be executed by Nora Vitorge-Cassin.


Since his work no longer permitted him to carry out the task, he resigned from his post as professor at the National High School of Decorative Art. He was appointed officer of the Legion of Honour on the recommendation of Jack Lang, the Minister of Cultural Affairs. At the Galerie Jan Krugier, Genève, he exhibited twenty-eight drawings in Indian ink. In Paris, in October, he exhibited ten large paintings from the period 1981 to 1984 at the Galerie de France, and his works before 1970 were shown simultaneously at the Galerie Patrice Trigano. Based on one of his watercolours, Dominique Mideux carried out a mosaic measuring 2.0x7.5 meters for Paul Haïm, a friend of Zao Wou-Ki's. During the summer, François Mathey organized an exhibition, entitled Sur Invitation, at the Museum of Decorative Arts. Zao Wou-Ki was, among others, invited to exhibit. In the autumn he showed Indian inks at the F.I.A.C.


The Cultural House of La Rochelle repeated the exhibition of the Galerie de France while the Galerie Editart, Genève, arranged an exhibition of prints from the period 1957 to 1981. Zao Wou-Ki went to Singapore to visit the Raffles City, built by Pei. Together they decided on the positioning and the dimensions of the large painting that he was going to make at his friends' request. It was to become a triptych measuring 2.8x10 meters. Pei had also ordered works from Kelly and Kenneth Noland. At the request of his old school, Zao Wou-Ki and his wife went to Hangzhou in May. For a month they gave classes, he in painting and drawing, she in modern painting and musical history. Twenty-six young teachers, pupils and curators came from the academies of Beijing, Tchen-Yang, Tien-Tsin, Xian, Sé-Tchouan, Canton, Houpei, and Hangzhou. Zao Wou-Ki and his wife were intensely committed to this unique experience, at the end of which he was nominated honorary professor.


In the spring, Zao Wou-Ki had an exhibition at the Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York. François Jacob wrote the preface for the catalogue. The Galerie de France exibited the triptych for Singapore (Raffles City) in May. Zao Wou-Ki made a poster and the cover of the programmer for the festival of Aix-en-Provence, where an exhibition of a selection of his works took place in July. In November he had a major exhibition in Seoul at the Hoam Gallery Museum, which had 1500 square meters at its disposal.


In Tokyo, the Fuji Television Gallery, which had already shown Zao Wou-Ki's works ten years earlier, proposed an exhibition of his recent paintings and a catalorgue prefaced by the director, Junji Ito.


In the spring, there was an exhibition at the Galerie Jan Krugier in Genève; Jean Leymarie wrote the preface for the catalogue. In the autumn, on the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of Zao Wou-Ki's arrival in France, Artcurial arranged a retrospective of his works at the gallery in the Avenue Matignon and showed his latest large-sized paintings at the F.I.A.C. At the same time Autoportrait, the autobiography written in collaboration with his wife, Françoise Marquet, was published. On this occasion Bernard Pivot invited the painter to participate in his literary programme, Apostrophes


Exhibition of recent paintings and drawings in Indian ink at the Galerie Jan Krugier in Genève. The museum of Tours arranged an anthology exhibition of paintings, Indian ink drawings, prints and illustrated books. The catalogue included a dialogue with the artist and Sophie Join-Lambert.


Exhibition at the Galerie Artcurial, Paris, of recent works and works from the eighties, catalogue preface by Pierre Daix and drawings in Indian ink at the Galerie Marwan Hoss, catalogue preface by Philippe Dagen. The A.F.F.A.arranged a retrospective at the Fondation Calouste Gulbenkian, organized by Jean Leymarie and Patrice Bachelard. In Luxembourg, the National Museum showed drawings in Indian ink, and the Château de Vianden exhibited paintings. In Germany, Hans Beda, Bitbury, exhibited prints. In Switzerland, Zao Wou-Ki was represented by Krugier-Ditescheim at the art fair in Basel. In France, he had exhibitions at the Château Siran-Labarde, the Château Margaux and the cultural center of Noroit. In November Zao Wou-Ki went to Xian, Beijing and Shanghai with Robert Littman, Director of Centro Cultural de Arte Contemporáneo de Mexico City and Anne Zagury, in order to arrange an exhibition of Chinese bronzes (dating from the twenty-first to the fourth century B.C.) at the cultural center of Mexico City.


Zao Wou-Ki was appointed Commander of the Legion of Honour by the President of France, and was decorated by his friend Émile Biasini. The Grand Guilded Silver Medal of Paris was presented to him by Jacques Chirac, Mayor of Paris. In February, Zao Wou-Ki went to New York for the Henri Matisse exhibition, then back to Paris to prepare his retrospective, 1935 to 1992, at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, organized by Patrice Bachelard, Zao Wou-Ki stayed in Taipei for seven days and took great pleasure in visiting the Palace Museum. He returned to Paris to finish the five etchings in black for the book by his friend, Claude Roy. In October, together with Rovert Littman he went on another journey to Shanghai in order to make the final choice of the bronzes. He stopped off for six days in Hongkong, where he was appointed Doctor Honoris Causa of the Chinese university. There was an exhibition Henri Michaux, Zao Wou-Ki at the F.I.A.C.arranged by the Galerie Tessa Herold. In December, the Galerie Sapone in Nice exhibited recent paintings; the catalogue was prefaced by Pierre Daix. Pierre Schneider and Robert Littman selected paintings and drawings in Indian ink for the exhibition at the Centro Cultural de Arte Contempóraneo de Mexico in March 1994.


Zao Wou-Ki exhibited paintings and Indian ink works at the Centro Cultural d'Arte Contemporaneo of Mexico. The catalogue consisted of a preface by Robert Littman and the text by Pierre Schneider. In an exhibition at Pérouges in France, Zao Wou-Ki showed thirteen paintings and five Indian ink works. Zao Wou-Ki was awarded the 1994 Premium Imperial Award of Painting (Japan). The jury consisted of Mrs. Jacques Chirac, Helmut Schmidt, Amintore Fanfani, Edward Heath, Yasuhiro Nakasone and David Rockefeller Jr.. In October, he travelled to Tokyo to receive the award with other winners: Henri Dutilleux for music, Richard Serra for sculpture, John Gielguld for stage art, and Charles Correa for architecture. Mr. And Mrs. Zao Wou-Ki were received by the Emperor of Japan. His Majesty Akihito and the Empress Michiko.


As in every year, the municipality of the fourteenth arrondissement of Paris accommodated the traditional salon of paintings, sculptures and graphic works of the artists living in that arrondissement. In 1995, Zao Wou-Ki accepted to participate in this salon. In March, an exhibition organized by Louis Deledicq took place in Saragossa, Spain at the Caja de Ahorros. From April to May, Zao Wou-Ki exhibited at the Maison de la Culture in Nevers. Pierre Beregovoy, ex-Prime Minister of France had ardently wished for the realization of this exhibition. In spring, the Ministry of Postal Service commissioned him to design a new stamp after a watercolour painting. In July, the company LVMH presented Zao Wou-Ki with the award: the Prix de Science pour l'Art-the Art section. The Science section award went to Steven Chu. Zao Wou-Ki finished seven prints, two of them in colour, for Henri Michaux's anthology Annonciation (Annunciation). Thessa Herold and Jan Krugier select some of Zao's works at his studio for F.I.A.C. in autumn.


A Retrospective exhibition organized with A.F.A.A. by commissioner Daniel Marchesseau, Chief Curator at Musée d'Art Modern de la Ville de Paris opened in January at the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan. This show was jointly presented by Urban Council, Hong Kong and the Consulate General of France, Hong Kong on the occasion of the "French May" 1996 at the Hong Kong Museum of Art, Urban Council.


Travels to Lisbon in June. Takes part in Made in France, anthological exhibition at the Centre Georges Pompidou collection, Paris. Galerie Krugler and Galerie Thessa Herold present Zao Wou-Ki's work at the FIAC, Paris. Takes part in the homage to Bernhard Anthonioz at the Korean Cultural Center, Paris. Travels to Shanghai where a major retrospective of his work is planned for October 1998, then to Kyoto for the inauguration of the Musée Miyo, designed by his friend, the architect I.M.Pei. For the twenty-fifth anniversary of the publisher Editions Ecarts, Jean Lissarrague and Jean-Etienne Huret bring out a series of books illustrated by artists. Eloge des choses by Claude Roy and Rompre le cri by Francois Cheng, illustrated by Zao Wou-Ki, are put on display at Libraire Nicaise, Paris. Exhibition of recent works at Galerie Theresa Herold in Paris. Yves Bonnefoy writes the text for the catalogue.


In February, Galerie Thessa Herold presents twelve paintings and three large works in India ink by Zao Wou-Ki at the ARCO, Madrid. The catalogue is prefaced by Tomas Llorens. In May, the subway station "Atlantic"is inaugurated in Lisbon. In June, retrospective exhibition of Zao Wou-Ki's work at the Musée d'Angers. In November, major retrospective exhibition in Shanghai, subsequently showing in Beijing. Canton and at the Museum of Modern Art in Valencia, Spain.




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