The Art and Life of Chinese Great Artist Master Wu Guanzhong

Wu Guanzhong Painting Work Appreciation - Hometown of Lu Xun

Art is for Everyone

A pure artist who devoted his entire life to artistic exploration, Wu's works have been hotly pursued on the domestic and international art markets, however, he never considered art as a way to make money, or as a legacy that he would leave his children.

Wu Guanzhong donated almost all of his work to museums, even the ones he loved the most. Although many pieces have fetched high prices and commanded tens of millions of yuan each (more than $1.5 million), he still lived a very simple life, never trying to make a fortune.

Through his true belief that his work should be seen and enjoyed by most people, Wu always insisted that it should never fall into the hands of collectors, but instead be hanging in museums.

His philosophy is part of the reason why such a large-scale retrospective could be organized without much effort as almost all of the items are owned by domestic and overseas museums and could be borrowed, according to Li Wen from the education department of Zhejiang Art Museum.

Aside from the 72 pieces that Wu donated to Zhejiang Art Museum and a series of sketches in Yunnan that he painted in 1978, the rest of the exhibition was borrowed from seven museums, with all works previously donated by Wu himself.

Always Innovative

Just as he insisted that his work should be seen and enjoyed by many, Wu also considered that his work should be judged by everyday people, while at the same time he pursued difficult techniques that belonged to Western art.

In one of his essays he once compared art conceptions of the modern West and ancient China to "a couple who are both deaf," who cannot communicate with each other but are still deeply in love.

"They have many similarities, many times," he wrote, spending his whole life trying to perfectly integrate the two different art approaches.

He used oil painting techniques to reflect Chinese landscapes, many of which are about the beautiful jiangnan (the area south of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River), capturing the essence of the area with visual effects that were magically similar to traditional ink paintings created by ancient Chinese art masters.

"He was one among the few great artists ever in China that was devoted to making the two different styles integrated," commented Xu Jiang, director of China Academy of Art. "He made his own achievements in this way and thus made great a contribution to the Chinese art world."

* Brief of Artist Wu Guanzhong:

Mr. Wu Guanzhong, alias Tu, who was born in 1919, and come from Yixing city, Jiangsu province, China.

In 1942, Wu Guanzhong graduated from the Hangzhou National College of Art, during this period, Wu very fond of Van Gogh, Gauguin, and prefer to use strong colors such as red and purple in his oil painting works, and he entitled a pen name for himself as “Wu Tucha”, later changed as “Tu”.

In 1947, Wu went to France to study abroad on state scholarship, and studied in the Paris National Higher School of Fine Arts.

In 1950, Wu returned home and acted as a teacher at the Central Academy of Fine Arts.

In 1953, he was appointed as an associate professor of architecture at Tsinghua University.

In 1956, he acted as teacher at the Beijing Academy of Fine Arts.

In 1964, he taught at the Central Academy of Arts and Crafts.

In 1970, Wu was been sent to villages in Hebei province for labor practice in the famous Chinese “Cultural Revolution” term.

In 1973, he was been transferred back to Beijing and to attend the hotel drawing creation.

In 1978, The Central Institute of Arts and Crafts held an individual exhibition of Wu Guanzhong Works.

In 1979, Wu was elected as an executive director of the Chinese Artists Association

In 1987, the Hong Kong Arts Center hosted “Wu Guanzhong Art Retrospection Exhibition”

In 1991, the French Ministry of Culture awarded Wu Guanzhong “The Highest Order of French Literature and Art”

In 1992, The British Museum broke its routine practice that only antique relics can be shown, and held it first art exhibition for living artist Wu Guanzhong, which named as “Wu Guanzhong – Chinese Artist in The Twentieth Century”, and collected a huge size color painted oil painting work titled “Birds Paradise” finished by Wu Guanzhong lately seriously.

In 1993, France Paris Sayniuche Museum held an art show titled “Walk to The World – Wu Guanzhong Sketch of Ink Painting Show”, and presented him a “Gold Medal of Paris”.

In 1994, Wu Guanzhong was selected one Standing Committee Members of the Chinese People & Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

In 1999, the National Cultural Ministry held “Wu Guanzhong Paintings Exhibition”

In 2000, Wu Guanzhong was elected as a communication academician at The Art Academy at the French Institute, and he is the first Chinese artist who obtained this laurel, and he is also the first Asian who obtained this occupation in nearly two hundred years since the set up of the French Institute.

* Original address of this China gift post: China Gift and Fine Arts & Crafts

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