When painters migrate between previously distant visual cultures, novel artistic syntheses may seem possible. No country has a longer or more illustrious tradition of visual accomplishment than China. But until the 20th century, art in China mostly developed without directly responding to European painting. Zao Wou-Ki was one of the first Chinese painters to attempt a synthesis of these very different traditions.

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Zao Wou-Ki, Sans titre (Untitled), 1972. India ink on paper. 26 3⁄16 × 47 1⁄16 inches. Private collection, Switzerland. ©Zao Wou-Ki ProLitteris, Zurich. Photo: Antoine Mercier.

Zao Wou-Ki, Sans titre (Untitled), 1972. India ink on paper. 26 3⁄16 × 47 1⁄16 inches. Private collection, Switzerland. ©Zao Wou-Ki ProLitteris, Zurich. Photo: Antoine Mercier.