Zao Wou-Ki

GBP £39.95



ISBN: 978-1-913875-28-2

128 pages

254 x 229 mm, (9 x 10 in)

75 colour illustrations

In association with the Cincinnati Art Museum

May 2023


The first volume to explore this major artists’ experiments in watercolour and his interesting and beautiful forays into ceramic decoration.

Features a brief note by Françoise Marquet-Zao.

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Zao Wou-Ki (1920–2013) was the first artist of the Chinese diaspora to achieve international recognition and was one of France’s most important painters of the post-war era and beyond. His large abstract canvases were in step with those of New York School artists of the late 1940s and 50s and emerged from the growing international impulse for non-objective painting. Zao married western vanguard painting with Chinese traditions of calligraphy and ink-drawing and in doing so created a powerful personal aesthetic that was uniquely his own.

Drawn largely from European private collections, the works of art in this catalogue have almost never been exhibited before and were deeply personal to the artist. Zao worked in watercolour throughout his long life and this catalogue features examples from as early as 1960. But during his last years, the artist rediscovered the medium with newfound enthusiasm and turned increasingly to nature as the source of inspiration. In 2008, he gave up oil-painting entirely, and for the next two years, watercolour was his primary form of expression.

The ceramics consist of two main groups – plates produced in the late 1970s in association with Sèvres, bearing designs created by Zao expressly for this purpose, and later designs from the 2000s painted directly on vases, bowls and plates that were subsequently editioned by Maison Bernardaud in Limoges.

Author biographies

Gilles Chazal is the former director of the Musée du Petit Palais, Paris.

Françoise Marquet-Zao is the widow of the artist, and a former curator at the Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris and the Musée du Petit Palais, Paris.

Table of Contents

  • Friendship Foreword by Kevin Sharp, Linda W. and S. Herbert Rhea Director, Dixon Gallery and Gardens
  • The Revival of Forms by Francoise Marquet-Zao
  • Zao Wou-Ki: The Breath of Life by Gilles Chazal
  • Catalogue
  • Checklist
  • Selected Bibliography by Yann Hendgen
  • Index
  • Image Credits