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Sanyu (Chang Yu)
Sanyu (Chang Yu)  (1901 — 1966)
The Chinese artist who became known by the name Sanyu was born in Nanchong, Sichuan Province, in 1901 to a wealthy family that owned one of the largest silk weaving mills in Sichuan. Sanyu was educated in the arts at home by his father, a recognized artist who specialized in painting animals. By 1921, Sanyu decided to follow many other Chinese artists to Europe. He lived briefly with the painter Xu Beihong and his wife Jiang Biwei in Berlin, but moved to Paris in 1923 to enter the Academie de la Grande ChaumiEre. It was here that Sanyu first began to work with nude models, something that was prohibited in art schools in China. Sanyu became well known in the art salons of Paris. He was supported in part by his family and by the French collector and dealer Henri-Pierre Roché. However, in the late 1930's, his family's business suffered and Sanyu fell on hard times. In 1948, he moved to New York and had brief success with an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, but he didn't like the U.S. and returned to Paris. Sanyu experienced a hard life in post-War Europe and was barely able to struggle by. For a brief time, he gained recognition for promoting 'ping tennis,' a sport he invented. Teaching tennis provided the bulk of his income and he continued to produce his art. In 1963, at the invitation of the Taiwan government, he prepared a large exhibition of his work for their National Museum of History. He was unable to travel to Taiwan, however, and never managed to get his art returned. The largest collection of it remains there today. Sanyu died in his Paris apartment in 1966 due to what was confirmed as accidental gas poisoning.      


 

  • Double Nudes, C. 1950's
    Ink on Paper
    22" x 18" (59cm x 46cm)

    About this work

    Sanyu first experienced working with nude models in life drawing classes at the Academie de la Grande ChaumiEre in Paris in 1923. For a young Chinese artist who had never been exposed to this in his country, the availability of models in Paris was exciting and Sanyu spent a great deal of his early career producing figure studies like this one in ink and pencil on paper. Sanyu was especially interested in what he called "the beauty of the flowing line." His drawings, like Chinese brush and ink paintings, are characteristically spare and deliberate.  

  • Nap, C. 1950's
    Ink on Paper
    17 3/4" x 10 7/8" (45cm x 26cm)

    About this work

    Sanyu first experienced working with nude models in life drawing classes at the Academie de la Grande ChaumiEre in Paris in 1923. For a young Chinese artist who had never been exposed to this in his country, the availability of models in Paris was exciting and Sanyu spent a great deal of his early career producing figure studies like this one in ink and pencil on paper. Sanyu was especially interested in what he called "the beauty of the flowing line." His drawings, like Chinese brush and ink paintings, are characteristically spare and deliberate.  

     
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