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Zao Wou-Ki



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Zao Wou-Ki moved from China to Paris in 1948, where he became associated with the postwar School of Paris, a loosely affiliated group of international painters working in abstraction that included Jean-Paul Riopelle, Maria Helena Vieira da Silva, and Pierre Soulages. Within the context of postwar Paris and the nihilism of French existentialist philosophy, Zao sought to evoke an inner psychic world through a combination of Eastern mysticism and Western gestural abstraction. Like his friend and fellow painter Soulages, he titled his works using only the date of completion—in this instance October 28, 1960—as a form of resistance to symbolic meaning that reinforced the act of making the work. 28-10-60 employs an abstract painterly language that seems to allude to earthly or nebular forms while also evoking the tonality and linear brushwork of classical Chinese landscape painting. The dark juncture at the center, formed of thick, black impasto, may suggest a landscape, but if so it is a landmass torn asunder, as if in reference to an inner void. [Exhibition label, 2015]

  • Artist Zao Wou-Ki (French, b. China, 1921–2013)
  • Title 28-10-60
  • Date 1960
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions unframed | 76 5/8 x 51 1/2 in.
  • Credit line Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Adam Aronson, 1968
  • Object number WU 4389

“Killing the Buddha”: Reconstructing Zen
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 04/27/2023 - 07/24/2023

From Picasso to Fontana: Collecting Modern and Postwar Art in the Eisendrath Years, 1960–1968
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 01/23/2015 - 04/19/2015

Mr. and Mrs. Adam Aronson

Inscription [LR of canvas, written in white paint:] [four Chinese characters written horizontally]

Inscription [verso UL on top stretcher, written in black crayone or chalk:] Z-46

Inscription [verso UC on vertical interior stretcher, white rectangular label with black trim on the top and bottom] [printed in black:] KOOTZ / GALLERY / 655 MADISON AVENUE / NEW YORK 21

Inscription [verso UR on canvas, written in black paint:] ZAO WOU-Ki / 28.10.60.

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