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Zao Wou-Ki, an exceptional donation

Zao Wou-Ki, an exceptional donation

Drawings, ceramics and India inks, bronzes and celadons from the Master’s collection

2016/06/24 - 16/10/23

The entry of Mrs Françoise Marquet-Zao’s donation in the Cernuschi Museum is historic.

Firstly, it reminds that, from 1946, Zao Wou-Ki’s artworks were presented for the first time in France, in the Cernuschi Museum. Vadime Elisseeff, curator then, had the discernment and the audacity to present to the Parisian public this artist, both young and unknown! The press at the time immediately recognised Zao Wou-Ki’s talent. Two years later, the young Chinese painter arrived in Paris, a city that would remain a special place for his artistic creation.

The artworks of the donation are linked with this key period during which Zao Wou-Ki had multiplied technical experiences and had progressed from figuration to abstraction. Therefore, in order to work on paper for example, the artist used charcoal, watercolour, gouache and ink of course. He produced some portraits with a confident brushstroke, a Matisse style, and drew his inspiration from live, nude models but also from engravings and Chinese antique stamping.

After a gap of several years, he returned to the use of ink from the 1970s and he would never leave it aside. The series of abstract compositions dated from the 1970s to 2000s show clearly this multi-faceted research. Also, the extreme importance of antique objects collected by Zao Wou-Ki needs to be emphasised, as they are of great value for the heritage collections of the Cernuschi museum.

Zao Wou-Ki started collecting antique objects at the end of the 1960s, but it is essentially from the 1990s and 2000s that the acquisitions were more numerous, at the whim of purchases, gifts from friends for birthdays or studio visits. These objects from the Shang to the Qing dynasties show several millenaries of Chinese art history. These ritual vases, perfume vaporizers with greenish and blueish patinas, these celadons with simple shapes are also irreplaceable sources for anyone wishing to know Zao Wou-Ki’s taste and interest for Chinese Antiquity.

The donation also includes artworks from Zao Wou-Ki’s Chinese friends, notably Walasse Ting. While, at the same time, the Cernuschi museum prepares an hommage to this artist in Autumn 2016, these works enrich the collections, at just the right moment.

Useful informations

Museum open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
7 avenue Vélasquez
75008 - Paris
tél: +33 (0)1 53 96 21 50 
Underground 2 or 3 : Monceau ou Villiers
Bus 30, 84, 94

Entrance charge : 4€, 3€ (concession), free under 18

Catalogue :
Zao Wou-ki, l’homme des deux rives, ouvrage collectif, Paris : Flammarion, 2016, 296 pages – 49€

Screening :
Zao Wou-ki : Lumières et couleurs sans limites, a documentary film by Jean-François Cuisine, 2001, 53 minutes 
Free access in the auditorium with the  entrance ticket from  10a.m. to 6 p.m.,  except during scheduled lectures or activities.