Wu Guanzhong: “the Eastern Matisse”


Special Focus - - Contents - Xu Kuang 许旷

On the night of June 4th, 2017, the Bei­jing Poly 2017 Spring “Chi­nese Con­tem­po­rary Art Auc­tion” ended in Bei­jing at the Four Sea­sons Ho­tel. 93 works were auc­tioned and the vol­ume of trans­ac­tion reached 166 mil­lion yuan. Wu Guanzhong’s Red Lo­tus, painted in 1974, and Mount Kil­i­man­jaro, painted in 1975, were sold at the prices of 32.775 mil­lion yuan and 32.2 mil­lion yuan, re­spec­tively, and were the two most valu­able works sold.

Wu Guanzhong was born in Yixin City, Jiangsu Prov­ince. In 1936, he en­tered the Hangzhou Na­tional Col­lege of Art, study­ing western paint­ing un­der the guid­ance of Lin Feng­mian. Af­ter grad­u­a­tion in 1942, he started teach­ing at Chongqing Univer­sity.

In 1946, Wu fur­thered his study in France with a schol­ar­ship pro­vided by the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion. He was en­rolled in the Na­tional Academy of Fine Art in Paris and stud­ied western art his­tory at the Lou­vre.

In the au­tumn of 1950, Wu Guanzhong re­turned to China and taught at the Cen­tral Academy of Fine Art in the Ar­chi­tec­tural De­part­ment of Ts­inghua Univer­sity, as well as the Bei­jing Art In­sti­tute and the Cen­tral Academy of Art and De­sign.

He was of the last group of pain­ters that were sent abroad in the old China and the first group of pain­ters that came back to serve the new China. He has a thor­ough knowl­edge of both Chi­nese and Western art. He stud­ied the ponds, lo­tus, and wil­low of Monet, the green forests of Cezanne, the scenery and char­ac­ters of Vin­cent Van Gogh, the lyri­cal paint­ings of Utrillo, and the lines of Matisse. Be­ing a dis­tinc­tive and dis­tin­guished pain­ter in both the field of oil paint­ing and tra­di­tional Chi­nese paint­ing, he is called “the Eastern Matisse.”

In 1991, Wu was made an Of­ficier de l'Or­dre des Arts et des Let­tres by the French Min­istry of Cul­ture. In 1992, the Bri­tish Mu­seum broke the con­ven­tion of only ex­hibit­ing an­cient relics, hold­ing a per­sonal ex­hi­bi­tion for the liv­ing pain­ter Wu Guanzhong for the first time. In 1993, Musee Cer­nuschi in Paris held an event “Look to the World—Wu Guanzhong Oil Paint­ing and Ink Paint­ing Sketch Ex­hi­bi­tion” and awarded him with the “Golden Medal of Paris.”

In 1999, China’s Na­tional Min­istry of Cul­ture held “An Ex­hi­bi­tion of Wu Guanzhong’s Paint­ings.” In 2000, he be­came the first Asian artist to be awarded the Mé­daille des Arts et Let­tres by the Académie des BeauxArts de l’In­sti­tut de France in the 200 years since the es­tab­lish­ment of the in­sti­tute.

In the eyes of Western peo­ple, the Chi­nese paint­ings of Wu Guanzhong con­tain the fea­tures and el­e­ments of Eastern cul­ture. In the eyes of Eastern peo­ple, his paint­ings re­flect the style and form of Western art—pos­sess­ing a new aes­thetic ori­en­ta­tion of its own.

A few rep­re­sen­ta­tive paint­ings by Wu Guanzhong are care­fully sin­gled out for the ben­e­fit of readers.

2017年6 月 4 日晚,北京保利2017春拍“中国现当代艺术夜场”在北京四季酒店收槌,共上拍93 件作品,实现总成交额1.66亿元。其中,吴冠中作于1974 年和 1975年的《红莲》和《乞力马扎罗雪山》分别以3277.5 万元和 3220万元成交,成为本场拍卖价格前两位的拍品。

吴冠中,1919年出生于江苏宜兴。自 1936年进入国立杭州艺专,在林风眠的指导下开始研习西洋绘画。1942年毕业后,在国立重庆大学执教。




1991年,法国文化部授予其“法国文艺最高勋位”。1992年,大英博物馆打破只展出古代文物的惯例, 首次为在世画家吴冠中举办个展。1993年,法国巴黎塞纽奇博物馆举办“走向世界——吴冠中油画水墨速写展”,并给他颁发“巴黎市金勋章”。




● Mount Kil­i­man­jaro《乞力马扎罗雪山》

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