Wu Guanzhong 吳冠中 China, 1919-2010





Trandition is important, let us preserve it in museums without hindering our developments as we advance into a modern epoch. 

—— Wu Guanzhong


Born in 1919, Wu Guanzhong was revered as one of the most important Chinese painters of the 20th Century. Renowned for his landscape paintings, which amalgamated Western artistic traditions with the artist’s own Eastern cultural origins, his style represents the culmination of years of study in Hangzhou and Paris. Wu Guanzhong was well-versed in Chinese calligraphy and deeply influenced by Fauvism - where his paintings sought to combine the colours and composition from Western oil painting with a spirit, lightness of touch, and tonal variation of Chinese ink-wash painting. Among the many talents that he had, Wu Guanzhong also frequently wrote essays on contemporary Chinese art.


Wu Guanzhong - Artist, Author, Academic


Wu Guanzhong is probably the most distinguished living Chinese artist; his work appreciated and collected around the world.


He was born in 1919 into a poor farmer’s family in Yixing County, Jiangsu Province, China. 


In 1936 he enrolled at the National Arts Academy in Hangzhou, graduating in 1942. In 1947 he went to France on a government scholarship to study at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux Arts in Paris. 


He returned to China in 1950 to teach, initially at the Central Academy of Art in Beijing, and subsequently at the Architecture Department of Qinghua University, the Beijing Fine Arts College, and the Central Academy of Fine Arts and Crafts. 


He is currently Professor of the Fine Art Institute of Qinghua University, Beijing.


For over half a century Wu Guanzhong has worked hard to create a large body of highly distinctive and personal work, successfully fusing Chinese and Western art, traditional and modern spirit.


Wu Guanzhong has held solo exhibitions at the Beijing China Fine Art Museum, the Singapore National Museum Art Gallery, the Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama, the Spencer Museum of Art in X, the Herbert F Johnson Museum of Art in X, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Musee Cernuschi in Paris, the Taipei National Museum of History, and the Hong Kong Museum of Art.


In 1991 he was made Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the Ministry of Culture of France, and in 1993 received a gold medal from the Paris municipal government. In 2003 he was awarded the Medaille des Arts et Lettres by the Academie des Beaux Arts de l’Institut de France, the first Chinese artist to be so honoured.


Over sixty books about the artist and his work have been published, and more than thirty collections of essays.


Hong Kong Through the Eyes of Wu Guanzhong, Land Development Corporation, Hong Kong, November 1991.


The Complete Works of Wu Guanzhong, vol. I-X, Hunan Fine Arts Publishing House, August 2007.