biography
 
1920
Zao Wou-Ki is born in Peking on February 1st, 1920. A few months later, his family goes to live in Shanghai.The T’Chao family belongs to a very ancient dynasty, the Song dynasty (10th to 13th century AD). When he arrives in France, T’chao Wou-Ki becomes Zao Wou-Ki, Wou-Ki being his given name.

His paternal grandfather, circa 1925. All rights reserved

1920-1931
It is in Nantung, a small town north of Shangai where his father is a banker, that young Zao Wou-Ki goes to primary school and follows three years of secondary education. From the age of ten, he draws and paints with great freedom. His family does not really impede his desire to be a painter. Thus predisposed in a family of intellectuals where painting has always been honoured, he learns with his grand-father that calligraphy is an art as long as it is alive and conveys emotions.
1935
At the age of fifteen, Zao Wou-Ki succeeds at the entrance examination of Hangzhou Fine Arts School with the drawing of the cast of a Greek statue. During six years : he learns to draw from casts and from a live model, he learns oil painting but also traditional Chinese painting, Western perspective and of the theory of calligraphy. Always impatient, young Zao Wou-Ki very quickly starts to make oil paintings.
The teachers at the Fine Arts School of Hangzhou are both Chinese and Westerners. They more especially teach traditional painting and the accuracy of the representation. But soon, Zao Wou-Ki tries to free himself from this teaching.
1938
The Fine Arts School of Hangzhou moves to Chongqing because of the Japanese invasion.

Zao Wou-Ki at the Fine Arts School in Hangzhou, 1935. All rights reserved

1941
After his graduation, Zao Wou-Ki is appointed as an assistant teacher at his school. In 1941, he presents his first exhibition in Chongqing and his father buys his first work. He is at the time very much influenced by Cézanne, Matisse and Picasso.
Zao Wou-Ki finds his models on the post-cards his uncle brings him back from Paris and that he collects or in the ‘full pages’ reproducing works by Renoir, Modigliani, Cezanne, Matisse or Picasso published in American magazines distributed in China (Life, Harper's Bazaar and Vogue).
1942
At the National Museum of Natural History of Chongqing, he organizes an exhibition presenting works by Lin Fengmian, Wu Dayu – his director at the Fine Arts School, Guan Liang, Ding Yanyong, Lin Kuang-Tang and himself. Well received by both intellectuals and young painters, this exhibition shows, for the first time, the works of living artists who want to break with tradition.
1946
It is a crucial year for China. Defeated, the Japanese troups leave the country. The Fine Arts School of Hangzhou, having moved to Chongqing in 1938, goes back to its former premises. Zao Wou-Ki follows it.
While teaching in Chongqing, Zao Wou-Ki meets with Vadime Elisseeff who, at the time, is the Cultural Attaché of the French Embassy in China and who urges him to go to Paris. When coming back to France, Vadime Elisseeff brings back with him some twenty oil paintings that he presents at the Cernuschi Museum in “The exhibition of contemporary Chinese paintings” in 1946.

Zao Wou-Ki and all his family at Shanghai harbor before his departure for France on February 26th 1948. All rights reserved

1947
After a personal exhibition in Shanghai, Zao Wou-Ki, aged 27, decides, with his father’s approval, to leave for Paris. He considers he has only, as he says, done a mere training in painting.
Wth his wife, Lalan, on the ship André Lebon leaving for France. All rights reserved.

Wth his wife, Lalan, on the ship André Lebon leaving for France. All rights reserved.

1948
He embarks in Shanghai with his wife, Lan-Lan, on February 26th and reaches Marseille after 36 days at sea. He discovers Paris and spends his afternoons at the Louvre Museum.
He moves to the painters’ district in Montparnasse in a small studio where he becomes the neighbour of Alberto Giacometti. He learns French at the Alliance Française and frequents the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. He says it is in Paris that he discovered his personnality.
He is surrounded by new friends backgrounds : the Americans , Sam Francis, Norman Bluhm and Joan Mittchel, the Canadian Jean-Paul Riopelle, the Portuguese Helena Vieira da Silva, the German Hans Hartung and the French Pierre Soulages.

In Paris, 1948. All rights reserved

1949
He discovers and marvels at the technique of lithography with the printer Desjobert. He has his first personal exhibition at the Galerie Greuze in May of 1949, it is once more Vadime Elisseeff who suggests that the foreword be written by Bernard Dorival, curator at the National Museum of Modern Art.
1950
Lecture par Henri Michaux de huit lithographies de Zao Wou-Ki , (Reading by Henri Michaux of eight lithograhs by Zao Wou-Ki), his first collector’s book, is published. Henri Michaux (1899 – 1984), the poet, spontaneously writes eight poems to accompany his first lithographs, without even knowing the artist. It is the beginning of an indestructible friendship.
1951
On January 4th, Pierre Loeb, the art dealer, is brought to visit Zao Wou-Ki’s studio by Henri Michaux. The first exhibition of Zao Wou-Ki’s works at the Galerie Pierre is organized in June : their collaboration will last until 1957.
During a trip to Switzerland to accompany one of his exhibitions, Zao Wou-Ki is confronted with Paul Klee’s paintings which he does not know well. It is an important step in his itinerary as a painter. In Paul Klee’s works, he discovers another painting full of letters and signs. It is this influence that will enable Zao Wou-Ki to move further towards abstraction.
With Jean-Paul Riopelle in front of Foudre (Lightning), 1955. All rights reserved

With Jean-Paul Riopelle in front of Foudre (Lightning), 1955. All rights reserved

1952
Now Zao Wou-Ki regularly makes exhibitions at the Galerie Pierre in Paris, where he meets with I.M. Pei, the architect, and his wife, Eileen. More exhibitions are organized in Basel and Lausanne, and in London, but also in Washington, Chicago and New York. Henri Michaux writes the foreword of the catalogue of his first exhibition at the Cadly-Birch Gallery in New-York.
1953
Many personal exhibitions are organized not only in France but also in Bern, Geneva, Rome, Milan, New-York, etc …
A change that takes place in his painting. “My painting becomes illegible. No more still lives or flowers. I aim at an imaginary and illegible writing".
In his studio in Paris, 1958. All rights reserved

In his studio in Paris, 1958. All rights reserved

1954
The Museum of Fine Arts of Cincinnati presents a retrospective exhibition of his etchings. Nesto Jacometti, the Swiss publisher, publishes the catalogue raisonné of Zao Wou-Ki’s etchings at the beginning of 1955. Zao Wou-Ki meets in Paris with Edgar Varese, the composer, during the creation of Déserts. They become very close friends. In 1964, one year before Varese’s death, Zao Wou-Ki paints a canvas as an homage to the composer.
1955-1956
His painting Foule noire (1954) wins the 5th Honorable Mention at the Carnegie International of the Carnegie Institute of Pittsburgh (U.S.A.).
Gildo Caputo and Myriam Prevot, directors of the Galerie de France, remained friends with Zao Wou-Ki since their meeting in 1950 at the Galerie La Hune. They see him as one of the leaders of the lyric abstraction they have been defending for a long time and they propose him to work with them. Zao Wou-Ki accepts and, with the agreement of Pierre Loeb, has his last exhibition at the Galerie Pierre in 1955. He then starts his collaboration with the Galerie de France.
1957
Zao Wou-Ki meets with the poet René Char and realizes four etchings for Les compagnons dans le jardin (The companions in the garden).They will remain close friends till Char’s death in 1988.
Zao Wou-Ki presents his first personal exhibition of paintings at the Galerie de France. This is where he meets and makes friend with the artists Hans Hartung, Pierre Soulages and Alfred Manessier. The foreword of the catalogue is written by Rene de Solier.
In 1957 Zao Wou-Ki leaves France for over a year. He goes to the United States and first stays in New York at his brother’s, Wu Wei. With the help of Pierre Soulages, he meets with the American art dealer Samuel Kootz and many artists become his friends : Franz Kline, Conrad Marca-Relli, Philip Guston, Adolph Gottlieb, William Baziottes, Saul Steinberg, James Brooks and Hans Hoffman. American painting and more especially the New York School, seems to him to be more instinctive, more spontaneous than European painting. He goes on with his trip with Pierre and Colette Soulages, going to Hawaii and to Japan.
With his second wife, May, in Hong-Kong, 1958. All rights reserved

With his second wife, May, in Hong-Kong, 1958. All rights reserved

1958
Zao Wou-Ki stays for six months in Hong Kong where he meets with Chan May Kan who becomes his second wife. Upon his return in Paris, Zao Wou-Ki starts working with Sam Kootz until 1967 when the gallery closes down.
1959-1960
On the occasion of his first opening at the Kootz Gallery, he goes to New York where he will now return every year until 1965. He buys an old warehouse in Paris which he has transformed into a studio by Georges Johannet.
1961
The Tokyo Gallery in Tokyo organizes his first personal exhibition. That same year will see his third personal exhibition at the Kootz Gallery in New York.
With Pierre Soulages on Kawai Island, 1958. All rights reserved.

With Pierre Soulages on Kawai Island, 1958. All rights reserved.

1962
As Andre Malraux is General de Gaulle’s Minister of Culture, Zao Wou-Ki, illustrates with ten lithographs La Tentation de l'Occident(Temptation of the West). It is the occasion for him to meet with the writer whose support will help him be granted French nationality in 1964.
He also has two exhibitions at the Kootz Gallery in New York and at the Ateneo in Madrid (Spain).
‘Chez Margot’, Golfe-Juan, March 3rd 1962 Joan Mitchell, Patricia Matisse, Jean-Paul Riopelle and Pierre Matisse. All rights reserved.

‘Chez Margot’, Golfe-Juan, March 3rd 1962 Joan Mitchell, Patricia Matisse, Jean-Paul Riopelle and Pierre Matisse. All rights reserved.

1963-1964
The Galerie de France presents his third personal exhibition. He also has exhibitions at the Kootz Gallery in New York and at the Hatden Gallery of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge (U.S.A.).

In his studio in Paris, in front of 29.09.64 and of the first version of 21.09.64, circa 1964. Photo: Budd

1965
Several major exhibitions are organized : the retrospective of paintings at the Folkwang Museum in Essen (Germany), the works on paper at the Graphische Sammlung Albertina in Vienna (Austria) and his sixth personal exhibition at the Kootz Gallery in New York, his last exhibition before the gallery closes down in 1967.

1967
He takes part in the French section during the World Fair of Montreal (Canada).
1968
The Frank Perls Gallery in Los Angeles organizes a personal exhibition. The San Francisco Museum of Art exhibits paintings and prints.

1969
The Palais des Beaux-Arts in Charleroi (Belgium) organizes a retrospective of his paintings. The second retrospective of his paintings is presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Montreal and after that at the Museum of Quebec (Canada). He then travels down to Mexico where he will stay with Rufino Tamayo, the painter, and Olga, his wife, whom he met in 1950. During the Festival of Music in Salzbourg, Zao Wou-Ki manages the summer seminar created by Oskar Kokoschka, the painter. An exhibition is dedicated to his work at the Sommerakademie für Bildende Kunst. Dans le cadre du Festival de musique de Salzbourg, Zao Wou-Ki dirige le séminaire d’été créé par le peintre Oskar Kokoschka. Une exposition lui est consacrée à la Sommerakademie für Bildende Kunst.
1971
Because his wife, May, is sicker and sicker, Zao Wou-Ki abandons painting for a while. On the advice of Henri Michaux, he rediscovers the difficult technique of India ink and still devotes himself to it every summer.

1972
May dies at the beginning of March. Zao Wou-Ki leaves for China on the 25th of that same month to visit his family he has not seen since 1948.

Portrait in his studio in Paris, 1973. Photo: Mohror

1973-1975
After long months of grieving, Zao Wou-Ki resumes working. He makes very large paintings that will be exhibited in 1975 at the Galerie de France with a foreword of René Char in the catalogue.
Yves Rivière - Arts et Métiers Graphiques, editors, publish the catalogue raisonné of his etchings that includes 300 numbers.

With I.M. Pei, at home, rue Jonquoy, 1976. All rights reserved

1976
Before the transfer of the National Museum of Modern Art from the Palais de Tokyo to the Centre d’Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou, Jean Leymarie dedicates, within the event entitled ‘L’Accrochage III’, a whole room to Zao Wou-Ki.
With the help of the Chinese Embassy in Paris and of the French Embassy in Peking, Zao Wou-Ki goes back to China in 1974 and in 1975.
1977
Fourteen paintings, most of them in large formats, are exhibited at the Fuji Television Gallery in Tokyo. One of the largest, Hommage à André Malraux (Homage to Andra Maltaux) (200 x 525 cm),is presented there. Thanks to its director, Susumu Yamamoto, works enter the most important Japanese collections (The Hakone Museum, The Ishibashi Foundation among others).
Zao Wou-Ki and Françoise Marquet get married in July.

With Jean Leymarie and his wife Françoise during the opening of the exhibition at the Joan Prats Gallery in Barcelona, Spain, 1976. All rights reserved

1978
An important painting becomes part of the collection of the baron and the baroness Thyssen-Bornemisza who Zao Wou-Ki met on the occasion of the presentation of their collection at the Musée d'art moderne de la Ville de Paris.
Zao Wou-Ki makes to the Bibliothèque Nationale de France a donation of etchings completing the series already kept by the Cabinet des Estampes.
1979
The Bibliothèque Nationale de France presents in the Salon d'honneur a selection of eighty prints from the Zao Wou-Ki donation.
At the request of Jean-Philippe Lecat, Minister of Culture and Communication, he creates for the Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres four projects for dinnerware.
During the autumn, the famous art dealer from New York, Pierre Matisse, visits his studio and proposes him an exhibition of paintings and drawings at his gallery. Zao Wou-Ki has not had an exhibition in this city for fifteen years and this project becomes very important for him.

1980
The exhibition of Zao Wou-Ki’s big formats at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Charleroi (Belgium) is also presented at the Musée d’Histoire et d’Art in Luxemburg.
He is appointed teacher of mural painting at the École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs by his friend Michel Tourlière, director of the School at the time.
In November, an exhibition of paintings and drawings takes place at the Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York. The foreword of the catalogue is written by his old friend I.M. Pei.

With Henri Michaux at the Galerie de France in Paris, 1980. Photo: Sin-May Zao

1981-1982
He completes two triptychs for the presentation of works in the Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais in Paris, on the margins of a great exhibition dedicated to Nicolas de Staël. It is the first time a French museum presents an exhibition of his works. It will then be taken to five Japanese museums : the Fukuoka City Museum, the Nihonbashi Art Gallery in Tokyo, the Fukui Prefectoral Museum, the Kyoto National Museum of Modern Art and the Kamakura Museum of Modern Art. This exhibition will go on to the Hong Kong Art Center and to the National Museum of Modern Art in Singapore.

Painting with India ink in his studio in Paris. 1981. Photo: Serge Lansac

1982
Before going to Beijing where he is invited by the Association of Chinese Artists, Zao Wou-Ki and Françoise Marquet go to Hong Kong, Shanghai, Hangzhou and Xian.
In October, invited by I.M. Pei, Zao Wou-Ki attends in China the opening of the Fragrant Hills Hotel, located thirty kilometres out of Beijing, for which he has just completed two large India ink panels (280 x 360 cm).

With René Char at the inauguration of the Hôtel de Campredon – Maison René Char, in l’Isle-sur-la Sorgue, 1982. Photo: Françoise Marquet

1983
Zao Wou-Ki goes to Taipei in Taiwan where the National Museum of History presents his works. So he sees again the National Palace Museum and have dinner with the great master Chang Dai-Chien, who was to decease a few months later. The Taipei exhibition goes on to the House of Culture in Tainan and then to the Prefectoral Library in Taichung.
The retrospective of the Musée Ingres in Montauban goes on to the Espace des Cordeliers in Châteauroux.
The Chinese Minister of Culture invites Zao Wou-Ki to exhibit in his native land for the first time since 1948 at the National Museum in Beijing and also in his old school in Hangshou which became the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts. During his visit, he goes to Mount Huan, the famous Yellow Mountain.

With Françoise in the studio of the painter, Zhan Daqian in Taipei, 1983. All rights reserved

1984
His work becoming too important to go on with his responsibilities as a teacher, he resigns from his post at the École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs. He is made an Officier de l’Ordre de la Légion d'Honneur at the proposal of the French Minister of Culture, Jack Lang.
For his first collaboration with the Galerie Jan Krugier in Geneva, Zao Wou-Ki exhibits India inks and also exhibits at the Galerie de France ten large recent paintings.

During a lecture at the school of fine arts, Hangzhou, 1985. All rights reserved

1985
At the request of I.M. Pei, Zao Wou-Ki goes to Singapour to see his latest realization at Raffles City and choose with him the location for a large tritych (2,80 x 10 m). The decoration of the building will be completed with works by Ellsworth Kelly and Kenneth Noland.
Invited by his old school, Zao Wou-Ki and his wife will teach at Hangzhou art school: painting and charcoal drawing for Zao Wou-Ki, museology for Françoise Marquet.

In his studio in Paris, 1982. Photo: Andersen

1986
The Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York dedicates an exhibition to Zao Wou-Ki’s work. In the meantime, the Galerie de France in Paris presents his larger triptych (2,80 x 10 m) a commission he has just completed for Raffles City built by his friend I.M. Pei in Singapore. It is Zao Wou-Ki’s last exhibition at the Galerie de France.

1987
In Tokyo, the Fuji Television Gallery proposes an exhibition of recent paintings. In Luxemburg, the Galerie Kutter presents paintings and watercolours.

With Jean Leymarie at the Villa Medicis, Rome, 1986. All rights reserved

1988
Several exhibitions are organized at the Galerie Jan Krugier in Geneva, at Artcurial with a retrospective on the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of his arrival in France.

1990
The Galerie Jan Krugier in Geneva presents recent paintings and India inks. The Musée des Beaux-Arts in Tours presents an anthological exhibition of paintings, inks, prints and illustrated books.
The winners of the Praemium Imperiale of Japan in 1994: Charles Correa (architecture), Zao Wou-Ki (painting), Richard Serra (sculpture) and Henri Dutilleux (music). All rights reserved.

The winners of the Praemium Imperiale of Japan in 1994: Charles Correa (architecture), Zao Wou-Ki (painting), Richard Serra (sculpture) and Henri Dutilleux (music). All rights reserved.

1991
The Fondation Vasarely in Aix-en-Provence exhibits paintings by Zao Wou-Ki.

1992
In Paris, the Galerie Artcurial exhibits recent paintings and the Galerie Marwan Hoss dedicates an exhibition to India inks.The AFAA organizes a retrospective at the Fondation Calouste Gulbenkian in Lisbon. Two exhibitions are presented in the Grand-Duchy of Luxemburg : "Encres de Chine" at the Musée National d’art et d’histoire and "Peintures" at the Château de Vianden. He also exhibits in France, at the Centre Culturel Noroît in Arras.

1993
Zao Wou-Ki is promoted Commandeur de l’Ordre de la Légion d'honneur by François Mitterand, the President of the French Republic and is decorated by his friend, Emile Biasini. He is also awarded the title of Docteur honoris causa of the Chinese University in Hong Kong.
The Taipei Fine Arts Museum in Taipei presents a retrospective from 1935 to 1992. In her Hong Kong gallery, Alice King presents an exhibition of recent works.

1994
The Centro Cultural de Arte Contemporàneo in Mexico presents the retrospective "Zao Wou-Ki. 40 ans de peintures (1954-1994)".
Zao Wou-Ki is granted the Praemium Imperiale of Japan in the Paintings section. In October, he goes to Tokyo for the prize-giving. The other winners are : Henri Dutilleux for music, Richard Serra for sculpture, John Gielgud for performing arts and Charles Correa for architecture.
With part of the triptych ‘Homage to my friend Jean-Paul Riopelle, 2003’ – Photo: Dennis Bouchard

With part of the triptych ‘Homage to my friend Jean-Paul Riopelle, 2003’ – Photo: Dennis Bouchard

1995
The Iber-Caja de Ahorros in Saragossa (Spain) and the Maison de la Culture in Nevers present exhibitions. The Ishibashi Foundation organizes a personal exhibition at the Ishibashi Museum of Art in Kurume (Japan), mainly composed of the works of the Ishibashi collection (Tokyo), which includes seven paintings by Zao Wou-Ki.

1996
The retrospective organized by the ADAA is presented at the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts in Taiwan and also at the Hong Kong Museum of Art.
Zao Wou-Ki prepares for the future underground station Oriente in Lisbon, an ambitious project: a ceramic wall panel which is inaugurated in May of 1998.
1997
The exhibition of India inks as a "Hommage à Pierre Matisse" is presented at the Jan Krugier Gallery in New York. To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Zao Wou-Ki’s arrival in Paris, the Galerie Thessa Herold exhibits recent paintings. Zao Wou-Ki travels with French President Jacques Chirac for an official journey to China.
He goes to Shanghai where an important retrospective exhibition of his works is planned to take place in 1998, and to Kyoto, where he attends the opening of the Miho Museum conceived by his friend, I.M. Pei.

1998

The city of Angers organizes an exbition in three parts: paintings at the Musée des Beaux-Arts, India inks in the Salle Chemellier and engravings, lithographs and artists books at the Musée Pincé.
At the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume, in front of the triptych ‘Mai-Septembre 1989’ for the presentation of his sword of academician on November 26th 2003. Photo: Dennis Bouchard

At the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume, in front of the triptych ‘Mai-Septembre 1989’ for the presentation of his sword of academician on November 26th 2003. Photo: Dennis Bouchard

1998 - 1999
Zao Wou-Ki goes to China on the occasion of the important retrospective organized by the AFAA, L’Oreal and the Shanghai Museum in Shanghai, from November 1998 to January 1999, then at the Palais des Beaux-Arts de Chine in Beijing from February to March 1999 and finally at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in du Guangdong in Canton from April to June 1999.

1999
Many exhibitions are organized : "Zao Wou-Ki : Works from 1948-1999" at The Lin & Keng Gallery in Taipei, "Zao Wou-Ki. Les vingt dernières années de peinture" at the Centre d'Arts Plastiques in Royan and an exhibition of inks in the Salle des écritures in Figeac.
Zao Wou-Ki also takes part in the collective exhibition of the Musée Tavet-Delacour in Pontoise on the "Maîtres de l'Encre: Chang Dai-Chien / Zao Wou-Ki / T'Ang Haywen".

2000
The Fuji Television Gallery in Tokyo dedicates a monographic exhibition to Zao Wou-Ki. Zao Wou-Ki accompanies Jacques Chirac, President of the French Republic, during his official trip to China.He also takes part in the important exhibition organized by the Petit Palais, Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris, "Chine, la gloire des empereurs", by organizing, on proposal by its director, Gilles Chazal, the contemporary section of the exhibition.
2001
During the spring, the IVAM - Centro Julio Gonzalez, presents an important retrospective in Valencia (Spain). This exhibition then goes to the Musée d'Ixelles in Brussels.

2002
With "Zao Wou-Ki, Rêve de nature", the Château de Chenonceau unveils for six months oil paintings and India inks from the last twenty years (scenography : Gilles and Martine Chazal).
Zao Wou-Ki is elected at the Académie des beaux-arts in December, in place of Jean Carzou.
With Shannon and Victor Ma at the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume, 2003. Photo : Dennis Bouchard

With Shannon and Victor Ma at the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume, 2003. Photo : Dennis Bouchard

2003
An important exhibition takes place at the Marlborough Gallery in New-York managed by Pierre Levai. It is his first personal exhibition in the United States since the closing down in 1989 of the Pierre Matisse Gallery. The Taidehalli in Helsinki (Finland) organizes a retrospective.
In Paris, the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume organizes the first important French retrospective of the artist. This exhibition, including some hundred works coming from all over the world. It meets a striking success with 135 000 visitors.
Zao Wou-Ki is received at the French Académie des beaux-arts on November 26th.

2004
Three retrospectives are organized this same year : "Zao Wou-Ki, une quête du silence" at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Dunkirk and at the Musée du Dessin et de l’Estampe originale in Gravelines, “Zao Wou-Ki - Hommages" (paintings, inks, engravings and drawings) at the Musée Fabre in Montpellier and the retrospective organized by the Ishibashi Foundation at the Bridgestone Museum of Art in Tokyo.
With Dominique de Villepin at the Hôtel Matignon, 2005. All rights reserved

With Dominique de Villepin at the Hôtel Matignon, 2005. All rights reserved

2005
The Palais Bénédictine in Fécamp proposes with "Zao Wou-Ki – Paysages intérieurs 1947-2004" a selection of works from the artist that had never been seen before and the city of Biarritz organizes at the Espace Bellevue the important retrospective "Zao Wou-Ki – Peintures et encres de Chine 1948-2005" that is very well received.

2006
Zao Wou-Ki takes part in two important collective exhibitions: "Homenaje – Homage to Chillida" at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and "Edgar Varèse" at the Museum Tinguely in Basel, "L’Envolée lyrique. Paris 1945-1956" at the Musée du Luxembourg in Paris.
I.M. Pei inaugurates in October the new Suzhou Museum in the city of Suzhou in China which he has just completed. He has wished for the opening of this new museum "Black & White Dream", a presentation of Zao Wou-Ki’s works.
Zao Wou-Ki is made a Grand Officier de l’Ordre de la Légion d’Honneur and decorated on November 3rd at the Palais de l’Elysée by President Jacques Chirac.
In his studio in Paris in 2006, painting a large India ink on paper. On the wall, his last triptych 19.03.2006 – Triptych. Photo: Françoise Marquet

In his studio in Paris in 2006, painting a large India ink on paper. On the wall, his last triptych 19.03.2006 – Triptych. Photo: Françoise Marquet

2007
The exhibition at the Château-Musée in Nemours presents several works that had never been seen before showing the various aspects of his work: oil on canvas, India ink and watercolour on paper, prints illustrating collectors’ books and for the first time, recent works on ceramic and china.

2008
Zao Wou-Ki completes two series of original designs on vases from the Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres. He also paints two watercolours for two fruit bowls in a limited edition.
The Bibliothèque Nationale de France dedicates an important retrospective to his etchings following the additional donation made by the artist. The exhibition is then presented at the Suzhou Museum in Suzhou in China.
The Musée de l’Hospice Saint-Roch in Issoudun presents an original exhibition of Zao Wou-Ki’s works on paper dated from 1954 to 2007, India inks and watercolours, an essential part of his work.
The Marlborough Gallery in New York presents a selection of recent works that had never been seen before: large pigmentary editions, paintings on china made for the Manufacture Bernardaud in Limoges together with a series of India inks.
The Musée National des beaux-arts de Québec in Canada presents about ten recent paintings around the triptych Hommage à mon ami Jean-Paul Riopelle (Homage to my friend Jean-Paul Riopelle) realized in 2003. It is an opportunity to evidence the great friendship that linked him to the Canadian painter deceased in 2002.
Zao Wou-Ki decides to stop working with oil paints.
At Clotilde and Bernard’s, Saint-Tropez, 2008. Photo: Sin-May Zao

At Clotilde and Bernard’s, Saint-Tropez, 2008. Photo: Sin-May Zao

2009
The Fondation Folon in La Hulpe in Belgium exhibits works on paper (India inks and watercolours) during the Europalia China International Arts Festival in Belgium thus recalling the friendship that existed between Jean-Michel Folon and Zao Wou-Ki. Alice King presents in Hong Kong a selection of Zao Wou-Ki’s works in connection with the French May Festival.
The Editions Flammarion publish an important monograph with an unpublished critical text by Dominique de Villepin, three hundred reproductions of works from 1935 to 2008 and an updated selection of texts written about Zao Wou-Ki’s work. Catherine Kwai and the Editions Kwai Fung Hin in Hong Kong ensure the publication in March 2010 of both Chinese and English versions of this monograph.

2010
During the spring, he creates his last watercolours on paper.
The triptych Hommage à Claude Monetpainted in 1991 is presented in the Pavillon France at the World Fair in Shanghai together with a selection of masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay.
The Fondation Arpad Szenes – Vieira da Silva in Lisbon presents an exhibition that recalls the deep links existing between Arpad Szenes, Maria Helena Vieira da Silva and Zao Wou-Ki.
On the request of Claude Roiron, president of the Conseil général d’Indre-et-Loire, fourteen stained-glass windows are created by Zao Wou-Ki for the dining hall of the Prieuré de Saint-Cosme, near Tours. The Ateliers Eric Linard carry out the execution with the participation of Saint-Gobain. An exhibition is also presented in the Prieuré gathering for the first time Zao Wou-Ki’s works of applied arts : creations for the Manufactures Nationales de Sèvres and des Gobelins, recent realizations in china and ceramic with the Ateliers Bernardaud in Limoges and the Editions Delille in Treigny in Burgundy.
Zao Wou-Ki participates in the exhibition "Lin Fengmian et ses élèves" at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou in China. Around the works of Lin Fengmian, works of his best students are also exhibited: Wu Guanzhong, Chu Teh-Chun, Zao Wou-Ki, Su Tianci and Xi Dejin.
In Saint Cosme priory near Tours, in front of the stained glass windows of the pulpit, July 2010. Photo : Philippe Koutouzis

In Saint Cosme priory near Tours, in front of the stained glass windows of the pulpit, July 2010. Photo : Philippe Koutouzis

2011
The gallery de Sarthe Fine Art organizes in Hong Kong a personal show "Zao Wou-Ki. Paintings: 1950’s – 1960’s".
Zao Wou-Ki also participates in several collective exhibitions: "Peinture non figurative de la seconde école de Paris, 1946-1962. 101 chefs-d’œuvre de la Fondation Gandur pour l’Art" at the Musée Rath in Geneva and "Abstraction picturale, 1949-1969 : Œuvres choisies des collections Guggenheim" at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. The exhibition "Artistes chinois à Paris, 1920-1958. De Lin Fengmian à Zao Wou-Ki" presented at the Musée Cernuschi in Paris recalls the way Zao Wou-Ki started his life in Paris and replaces his arrival in Paris in the logic of French-Chinese exchanges in the 20th century.
Zao Wou-Ki settles down in Dully in Switzerland with his wife, Françoise. It is in Switzerland, where he travelled at the beginning of the 50’s with his friend, Johnny Friedlaender, that he confronts himself with Paul Klee’s paintings, a decisive vision for his career as a painter.

2012
At the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Rouen "Zao Wou-Ki, le printemps du pinceau": a dialogue between the triptych Hommage à Claude Monet (1991) and some fifteen watercolours that had never been seen before and are dated in the 2000’s.
Other recent watercolours that had never been seen before are exhibited by FEAST Projects in Hong Kong.
In Dully, Switzerland, June 2012. Photo: Sin-May Zao

In Dully, Switzerland, June 2012. Photo: Sin-May Zao

2013
Zao Wou-Ki passes away at the hospital in Nyon on April 9th.
According to his will, his funeral takes place at the Montparnasse cemetery in Paris.
The Ishibashi Foundation pays its tribute to Zao Wou-Ki by dedicating him a room at the Bridgestone Museum of Art in Tokyo.
Two books are re-published in revised and updated versions: Zao Wou-Ki by Pierre Daix at the Editions Ides et Calendes in Lausanne and Zao Wou-Ki: Couleurs et mots, a series of interviews published by the Cherche Midi in Paris.
The city of Locarno in Switzerland presents the first retrospective of his work organized after his death. It highlights the unequalled collection bequeathed to Locarno by Nesto Jacometti, the Swiss publisher and art dealer. Zao Wou-Ki had collaborated with him from 1950 to 1965.


Françoise Marquet and Yann Hendgen
– In Dully, Switzerland, Summer 2012. Photo : Françoise Marquet

– In Dully, Switzerland, Summer 2012. Photo : Françoise Marquet

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