Fighting Yaks

Wu Zuoren Chinese

Not on view

Wu Zuoren studied art with Xu Beihong before going to Europe himself in 1930. His exposure to Western techniques and methods in China prepared him better for his Western experience than the pioneer generation of his teacher. In Paris he studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts and in Brussels, under Alfred Bastien at the Royal Academy. He adopted oil painting as a technique, not a style, applicable to Chinese artist aims.

He moved with the Nanjing Central University to Zhongging during the war years. In 1943 at the age of thirty-five, he began a period of travel in the Qinghai Tibet Plateau, living with herdsmen in the Gobi Desert while painting galloping yaks and camel caravans on the vast highland plains. Wu's sympathetic portrayals of the lives of the minority peoples and his majestic landscapes celebrating China's vast resources were consonant with the current political agenda: broaden the appeal of art, address the lives of the common folk and confirm a nationalistic spirit. He increasingly used brush and ink rather than oils to express succinctly the movement, light and humor of his subjects. From the 1950s he held an honorary post at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Peking.

Fighting Yaks, Wu Zuoren (Chinese, 1908–1997), Hanging scroll; ink on paper, China

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