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Wu Guanzhong
Wu Guanzhong  (1919 — 2010)
Wu Guanzhong was born in Yixing, Jiangsu province in 1919. He first studied painting under Lin Fengmian and Wu Dayu at the Hangzhou Academy of Art in 1936. Following his graduation in 1942 he taught at Chongqing University. In 1946 he was awarded a scholarship to study in France at the Ecole National Superieure des Beaux-Arts. He also studied art history at the Ecole du Louvre. Returning to China in 1950, Wu Guanzhong taught at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing; Qinghua University; and Beijing Normal Academy. From 1964 through the Cultural Revolution he was persecuted by the government and sent to hard labor. He continued to paint in oil, however, and held his first major one-man show in 1979 at the National Art Museum of China. As a representative of the Chinese Artists' Association, he lectured extensively on Chinese modern painting and his work has been exhibited in major museums internationally. In 1990 Wu Guanzhong was awarded the Grade d'Officer des Arts et des Lettres by France's Ministry of Culture. In 1993 a major retrospective of his work was presented at the British Museum, London, and again, in 1995, at the Hong Kong Museum of Modern Art. Numerous publications of his work have been produced and his art regularly sets record prices at auction. Wu Guanzhong died on June 25, 2010 at the age of 90.  He was one of the most recognized and respected Chinese painters in history.



 

  • Market Place in Shaoxing, 1957
    Watercolor on Paper
    11" x 15" (27.9cm x 38.1cm)

    About this work

    Throughout his career, Wu Guanzhong has been able to move easily between watercolor, brush and ink painting, and oil painting. While he trained first in China as a brush painter, he was able to study Western watercolor techniques in Europe in the 1940's and in "Market Place In Shaoxing," produced in 1957, we can see the more structured form he applies to a typical Chinese scene painted on location in Shaoxing. The way in which he has applied the brightest colors to only the figures in the painting gives the market its vibrancy.   

  • Hometown of Lu Xun, 1972
    Oil on Board
    12 5/8" x 9" (32.1cm x 22.9cm)

    About this work

    "Hometown of Lu Xun" is a perfect example of Wu Guanzhong's blending of Chinese and Western painting techniques. Quite clearly, the more delicate brushstrokes in the painting resemble those of traditional Chinese ink and watercolor, yet the solid planes of color, representing the bridges and houses surrounding the canal in this landscape, utilize the texture and blending of tonalities more common to oil painting. This painting from Wu Guanzhong's most productive decade of the 1970's is part of a series he did on the hometown of China's most famous poet.  

  • Red Lotus, 1974
    Oil on Canvas
    39 3/8" x 28 3/4" (100cm x 73cm)

    About this work

    "Red Lotus" is considered by critics to be a masterpiece among the many great works of art created by Wu Guanzhong. It is also one of the artist's favorite painitings. About this work, Wu Guanzhong has said, "Red Lotus was painted in 1974 and was once published in "Shan Xi Mass Art" on the cover of the magazine. It was also exhibited in the National Arts Exhibition in China in 1978, when the theme of fine art works still focused on political subjects. Somebody argued that the Red Lotus should not have been selected for the exhibition because it had no political theme, but then someone else guessed that the red lotus in the painting symbolized premier Zhou Enlai."  

  • Sketch in Quingdao, 1976
    Watercolor on Paper
    11 3/4" x 10" (29.8cm x 29.4cm)

    About this work

    This small watercolor study of rock outcroppings in Qingdao is limited in color, yet the contrasting foreground, middle ground and background give it not only perspective, but visual interest. It resembles Wu Guanzhong's early watercolor studies from the 1950's and it's size, 11 3/4" x 10", indicates that it may have been a field study.  

  • House in Shao-Hsin, 1977
    Oil on Board
    24" x 18" (60.9cm x 45.7cm)

    About this work

    Wu Guanzhong's landscape paintings from the 1970's utilize a limited color palette, yet the colors he chooses are always absolutely accurate to the scene painted, testament to the artist's ability to create unique and infinitely pleasing works of art. In this scene, the verdant greens of the fields and trees indicate it is summer. On first impression, the viewer sees the landscape and the houses in the background, but slowly, the eye is drawn to the figures standing outside one of the houses by the way in which Wu Guanzhong has used bright red for their clothing. This is a brilliant device the artist has applied quite effectively in many of his works.   

  • By the Lake, 1977
    Oil on Board
    17 3/4" x 17 3/4" (45.1cm x 45.1cm)

    About this work

    "By the Lake" is a great example of Wu Guanzhong's landscape paintings produced in the 1970's. In it, he has blended the delicacy of the brushstroke found in more traditional Chinese ink and watercolor paintings, with the ability the oil painter has to mix colors and create texture. The background and middle ground of the piece is relatively even, separated only by a plane of bright green grass. The water is smooth and the delicate tonality of it reflects the sky. However, the gnarled tree in the immediate foreground gives the picture its life. Not only has Wu Guanzhong used bright spots of color on the leaves of the tree to draw the eye, he has painted it in heavy texture so the viewer almost feels the branches and sculpted wood. This painting also illustrates Wu Guanzhong's ability to bring power and presence to even a small canvas.  

     
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