Chu Teh-Chun: Artist Portrait

Chu Teh-Chun

Born 1920.
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Chu Teh-Chun Biography

Chu Teh-Chun was a French-Chinese artist whose work was at the forefront of the integration of traditional Chinese painting styles with Western abstraction in the 20th century. Along with his close friends and classmates Wu Guanzhong and Zao Wou-Ki – who were nicknamed the “Three Musketeers” of Chinese modernist art – Chu was elected as member of the Académie des Beaux Arts in France. His work, along with that of Wu and Zao, indelibly influenced the artists of subsequent generations.

Born in 1920 in Hangzhou, China, Chu studied at the National School of Arts, where he met Wu and Zao. He taught Western painting styles at the National Taiwan Normal University in the early 1950s, until moving to Paris, where he lived for the remainder of his life; he would become a French citizen in 1980. Not long after his arrival in Paris, he was awarded the silver medal at the 1956 Spring Salon for a portrait of his wife, Chu Ching-Chao, a work to which Wu Guanzhong nicknamed “the Mona Lisa of the East.” He abandoned his early figurative style in favor of more abstract compositions with broad brushstrokes and a bold sense of color that vaguely evoke the forms of Chinese calligraphy, the landscapes of his childhood, and the abstract experimentation taking place in New York and Western Europe.

A 1964 exhibition at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh brought him international fame and enormously expanded his career and market. His beloved and much admired works have been exhibited in museums all over the world, and currently occupy more than 50 major museums. His oeuvre is among the most expensive of Chinese artists; his No. 268 sold for $9.7 million in 2018, and Untitled 1963 painting sold for $9.1 million in 2013. He died at the age of 93 in 2014 within a year of the deaths of his close friends Wu Guangzhong and Zao Wou-Ki.

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