Lot 17
  • 17

ZAO WOU-KI | Untitled

1,600,000 - 2,700,000 EUR
bidding is closed


  • Zao Wou-ki
  • Untitled
  • signed, signed in Chinese and dated 58; signed and dated 1958 on the reverse
  • oil on canvas
  • 81 x 75 cm; 32 x 30 in.
  • Executed in 1958.


Galerie de France, Paris
Morgan Knott Collection, Dallas
Private collection, Dallas (acquired in 1995)


Jean Leymarie, Zao Wou-Ki, Barcelona, 1978, p. 281, no. 276, illustrated
Jean Leymarie, Zao Wou-Ki, Barcelona, 1986, p. 321, no. 308, illustrated
Françoise Marquet-Zao, Yann Hendgen, Catalogue Raisonné des Peintures Zao wou-Ki, Volume I, 1935-1958, Paris, 2019, pp. 254, 326, illustrated in colour

Catalogue Note

After ten years of researches and experiments, Zao Wou-Ki made a major break-through. When renouncing figuration, he found his way to the great history of art: a universal yet deeply Chinese-rooted painting, abstract yet wonderfully organic, gestural yet richly detailed.
Arrived in Paris in April 1948, Zao Wou-Ki quickly made friends with the main representatives of the post-war avant-gardes, who, like him, lived in the Montparnasse district of Paris. Henri Michaux taught him the incantatory power of painting; Pierre Soulages, Sam Francis, Hans Hartung and Jean-Paul Riopelle, abstract expressionism. For the first time the artist got a glimpse of the inner landscapes he hold within.
Progressively, between 1953 and 1958, Zao Wou-Ki's paintings displayed the signs of what some have likened to "cursive writing", allowing him to go beyond the wall of "appearances" to quote art historian Jean Leymarie. In those years, the artist forged a unique pictorial language that stretched beyond the figurative space without abandoning the signifier, as if still clinging to a necessity for meaning.
With its opalescent light, its bister color and organic palette, and the abundance of details at the center of the composition from which the painting draws its incredible depth, Sans Titre is testament to an exceptional artistic journey that reconciled two fundamentally opposed traditions.  

The authenticity of this work has been confirmed by the Fondation Zao Wou-Ki. The work will be included in the forthcoming Catalogue Raisonné currently being prepared by Françoise Marquet and Yann Hendgen. It is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from the Fondation Zao Wou-Ki.