Lot 1006
  • 1006

Ju Ming (Zhu Ming)

8,000,000 - 12,000,000 HKD
14,500,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • Ju Ming (Zhu Ming)
  • Taichi: Single Whip
  • incised with the artist's signature in Pinyin, dated 91 and numbered 6/6
  • bronze
  • 165 by 265 by 122 cm; 65 by 104 3/8  by 48 in.
executed in 1991


Acquired directly from the artist by the present important private European collector


Japan, Hakone Open-Air Museum, 1995 (another edition)
Paris, Place Vendome, Ju Ming's Taichi Sculpture, 1997 (another edition)
Swiss, Hall of Basel Freeport, Two Taiwan Artist, 1999 (another edition)
Taiwan, Ju Ming Foundation, Ju Ming, 1999 (another edition)
New York, Plum Blossoms Gallery, Two Contemporary Taiwanese Artist, 2001 (another edition)

Catalogue Note

Restraint and Momentum: Ju Ming’s Taichi: Single Whip
Ju Ming’s Taichi Series, in particular his Single Whip sculpture, is considered the milestone of the artist’s career. The work coincided with the artist’s first leap onto the international artistic stage, and drew avid commentary and attention from critics at home and abroad. In 1978, a 40-year-old Ju Ming and his Taichi Series travelled to Japan for an exhibit at the Tokyo Central Art Museum. The bronze sculpture Single Whip was the first to be acquired by the Hakone Open-Air Museum. It was Ju Ming’s first piece inducted into the collection of an international art institution, and remains the most famous among the Taichi Series sculptures. The origins of the piece can, in fact, be traced to 1976, when Ju Ming created a wooden sculpture entitled Kung Fu, which debuted at the National Museum of History in Taipei. The posture of the Kung Fu figure perfectly prefigures the form and energy of Single Whip. It can be said that the maturation and crystallization of ideas that led to Single Whip signified the birth of the Taichi Series and Ju Ming’s subsequent long and brilliant artistic journey. Fast forward a couple of decades following the creation of Single Whip, and Ju Ming was now an artist whose sculptures had stood upon the grounds of the Place Vendôme in Paris as well as many other cities around the globe in solo exhibitions. Single Whip invariably appeared in these exhibits, hailed for its iconic status within the Taichi Series. The artist has always regarded this piece as the launching point of his individual style. The sculpture uses elements of traditional Chinese sculpture techniques while at the same time echoes the new philosophies of modern sculpture. In this melding together of East and West, Ju Ming has led the way for Chinese modern art onto a path defined by the artist’s singular style.
The form of Single Whip is concise, its outlines sharp and distinct, emphasizing two vital elements in creating sculptures of human figures: lines and geometric surfaces. The lines descend from the spirit of the Chinese sculpture tradition, while the geometric surfaces reflect modern Western artistic theory. Ju Ming ingenuously fuses these two traditions into one, creating his own expressive form and sculptural style.
The Refinement of Lines
Single Whip highlights the element of lines, powerfully conveying the momentum and rhythm within the spirit of taichi. In the Chinese sculpture tradition, particular emphasis is given to the weight and power of the line, with forceful lines delineating the outlines of human figures, and flowing, fluid lines conjuring a feeling of continuous movement and dynamism. Like the Dancing Courtesan from the Western Han Dynasty. Single Whip’s entire form is nimble and prodigious, its arms extended with one above and one below, the figure assured and graceful, its physique lithe. All of this is conveyed through two extended lines, dynamic as the clouds rolling through the mountain valleys. Ju Ming’s inheritance of the Chinese tradition of lines is profound and thorough. Created in 1991, the bronze sculpture of Taichi: Single Whip (Lot 1006) clearly illuminates his mastery. The most captivating aspect of the work are the concise and deep cuts of the blade, fully capturing the viewer’s attention, guiding it through a fluid and moving point of perspective. This evokes an experience similar to that of viewing Matisse’s Blue Nude II in which the flowing lines of negative white space are almost more mesmerizing than the blue figure itself. The traces of chiselling and hammering upon the figure of Taichi: Single Whip vividly capture the form of the martial artist in practice. Three shallow engravings mark the collar to illustrate the figure’s shirt fluttering in the wind, its heroic illumination. The deep and wide engravings on the lower body bring the figure into a crouching stance, as though brimming with energy and waiting for action, emanating a steady and dignified strength. A row of sharp and slender lines mark both shirt sleeves – one raised, the other lowered – illustrating the tension between both sides, the stillness and dynamism, allowing a rhythm and cadence to pour forth naturally. The lines cutting inward suggest both a stillness and a stirring, as though the martial artist contains reserves of kinetic energy that can be released at any moment. In Single Whip, three types of sculpted lines and energies converge, like the aesthetics of the “textured strokes” of Chinese calligraphy and ink painting. In this way, the artist has ingenuously applied the most striking lines from traditional Chinese painting to the art of sculpture.