ZHANG DAQIAN (1899-1983)
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ZHANG DAQIAN (1899-1983)

Hills in Autumn Haze

ZHANG DAQIAN (1899-1983)
Hills in Autumn Haze
Scroll, mounted and framed, ink and colour on paper
61.6 x 94.5 cm. (24 1⁄4 x 37 1⁄8 in.)
Signed, with one seal of the artist and one dated seal of wushen year (1968)
Contemporary Chinese Brushwork by Wang Chi-Yuan and Chang Dai- Chien, Smithsonian Institution Washington, D. C., USA, 1970, pl. 27.
Beautiful China: A Pictorial Monthly, Issue 34, Taipei, August 1971, p.29.
New York, Frank Caro Gallery, Exhibition of Paintings by Chang Dai-chien, 5-26 October, 1968.
Chicago, S.H. Mori Gallery, Exhibition of Paintings by Chang Dai- chien, 2-23 November, 1968.
Boston, Alberts-Langdon Gallery, Exhibition of Paintings by Chang Dai-chien, 30 November-14 December, 1968.
Washington D.C., Smithsonian Institution and toured to other museums, Contemporary Chinese Brushwork by Wang Chi-Yuan and Chang Dai-Chien, 1970.
Further details
Zhang Daqian first visited the United States in early 1953. From his home in Argentina, he travelled to New York, where he rejoiced in reuniting with his good friends C. C. Wang (1907- 2003) and Wang Jiyuan (1893-1975). New York soon became a frequent stop for the artist, offering a welcome respite during crossings between South America and Asia. His first significant North American exhibition took place at New York’s Hirschl & Adler Galleries a decade after his first visit. By the mid-1960s, Zhang Daqian’s ground-breaking splashed colour and ink landscapes resonated with New York’s sophisticated audience. The original collector couple met the artist through his friend Wang Jiyuan. Important early supporters of Zhang Daqian in the cosmopolis, the couple were keen patrons of the arts, active members of the Asia Society in New York and committed to the preservation of architecture. The couple hosted Zhang Daqian at their residence throughout the 1960s and when his retrospective opened in 1972, they travelled to San Francisco for the occasion. The artist had dedicated paintings and inscribed exhibition catalogues to the couple, standing as a testament to the friendship between Zhang Daqian and the collectors. The paintings have been treasured by the family since.

Brought to you by

Carmen Shek Cerne (石嘉雯)
Carmen Shek Cerne (石嘉雯) Vice President, Head of Department, Chinese Paintings

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Lot Essay

Having accumulated a decade of experience in his pioneering splashed ink paintings, Hills in Autumn Haze stands at the peak of Zhang Daqian’s creativity and artistic achievement. A rich blanket of malachite and azurite pigments spread through the left of the painting, depicting the mountains and their vegetation to enshroud the foreground in bright emerald hue. Mist and rain surround the peaks from afar, painted in cobalt blue and accentuated with deliberate ink brushes. A thin layer of white haze rises from the bottom of the valley, moving upwards to create a dramatic entrance to the bright open air at the right side of the composition. Zhang Daqian’s versatility in painting techniques is seen in his use of thick brushstrokes to outline the continuous mountain range and his spray paint technique for the white pigment to allow the energetic movements of the snow-like atmosphere to come to life fully. His expression reminds us of the abstract expressionist movement pioneered by Jackson Pollock.

The talented artist always had an eye to expand his market in an international arena, particularly in the United States. His opportunity arrived in the summer of 1967 when he held two landmark exhibitions in California - an academic show at Stanford University and a commercial show at Laky Gallery. By the time when his exhibition Recent Works by Zhang Daqian went on tour to New York, Chicago and Boston in 1968, many American collectors had already heard about Zhang from his shows in the previous year. The present work - abstract, vibrant and bold, was tailored by Zhang to cater for an international audience in America. Borrowing the practice of Western artists, Zhang abandoned long, poetic inscriptions and only signed his name Yuan Weng and imprinted two seals on the painting. This very same painting, so beloved by the artist, was again included in his 1970 two-men show with Wang Jiyuan organized by the Smithsonian Institute. The show eventually toured many major museums and institutions in the United States. At this time, Zhang Daqian’s career as an international artist had firmly taken off.

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