Wu Guanzhong

Wu Guanzhong

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.

  • Longtan Lake in Autumn
    Watercolor & Pen on Paper
    12½" x 16" (32cm x 42cm)

    About this work

    A depiction of a popular scenic spot in Beijing. Wu Guanzhong did not choose the most well-known lake view garden in the scenic area to depict, but the corner of the wall covered with vines. It shows the artist’s understanding of lines and forms. The artist uses smooth lines to outline the walls, climbing vines and tree branches. He deliberately reduces the effect of color, leaving the work to the rhythm of pure lines and the beauty of structure. The overall picture maintains the freshness of watercolor sketching, compatible with traditional ink and wash techniques, and gives full play to the changes in the shades of ink in a single stroke. It combines the artist’s exquisite artistic creation techniques into one, successfully interpreting Beijing’s bleak but freehand autumn days. The style and appearance transform the ordinary walls into a beautiful symphony of various lines along the wall.

  • 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.