Pavillon du musée Fabre, Montpellier
The Pavillon du Musée Fabre presents a major exhibition devoted to the work one of the world's greatest contemporary artists, Zao Wou-Ki, with a selection of 60 paintings and a number of photographs retracing his extraordinary artistic journey from his beginnings in China to his reception as a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris, on 23 November 2003.
Born in Beijing (then Peking) in 1921, Zao Wou-Ki settled in Paris aged 27, and took French nationality in 1964. A close associate of many of the greatest artists and poets of his day (Pierre Soulages, Jean-Paul Riopelle, René Char, Henri Michaux...), he achieved international renown as an abstract painter from the 1950s onwards. At the height of his powers, Zao Wou-Ki's art testifies to his successful synthesis of two potentially antagonistic civilisations.
The present exhibition has been planned in close collaboration with the artist and his workshop, with the primary aim of presenting a significant retrospective of his extraordinary work. Each stage in his artistic development, decade by decade, is represented by a group of works selected for their exceptional quality: early portraits and landscapes, his discovery of Western art, the purchase of his "sign" paintings by a number of public museums in the 1950s, his move into abstraction, the tumult of the 1960s and 70s, his paintings of fluids and voids in the 1980s and 90s, and his most recent works. The exhibition also testifies to Zao Wou-Ki's great humanity and generosity, including the many Tributes painted throughout his career, to fellow artists, poets, inspirational masters such as Matisse or Monet, or simply his close friends.
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