Peking 1921 - 2013 Paris
Zao Wou-Ki was one of the best known proponents of Lyrical Abstraction and the Nouvelle École de Paris. Deeply impressed by the representatives of European modernism, Wou-Ki emigrated to Paris in 1948; there, he met Henri Michaux, Alberto Giacometti, Joan Miró,and Maria Elena Vieira da Silva. Inspired by Paul Klee, Wou-Ki gradually distanced himself from representational painting. His poetic, abstract pictures show a synthesis between Eastern calligraphy and European Art Informel in the form of abstract cosmic landscapes. He often did large-format works with 'exploding colours'. In 1965, the first large retrospective of his works was held at the Museum Folkwang in Essen. Wou-Ki completed numerous illustration projects for Henri Michaux and André Malraux; in 1980, he was appointed professor at the École nationale supérieure des Arts décoratifs. Wou-Ki was awarded several honorary doctorates as well as the Japanese Premium Imperial Award and exhibited his works at the major international exhibitions such as the Venice Biennale.