Lot 1043
  • 1043


1,800,000 - 3,800,000 HKD
3,000,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • Richard Lin
  • 15 MAY 1967
  • signed in English, dated and titled 15 MAY 1967 on the reverse 
  • oil on canvas
  • 143.5 by 71.8 cm; 56 ½ by 28 ¼ in.


Acquired directly from the artist by the present important private Asian collector in 1998


Taipei, Taipei World Trade Center Hall 1, Art Taipei, 12-15 November 2016 


Introspection & Exploration: Artistic Generations in Asia, Longmen Art Projects, Shanghai, 2017, p. 33

Catalogue Note

 “Always clad in white from head to toe, Richard Lin infused the Taiwanese art scene of that time with the essence of Minimalism. Lin resided in the picturesque outskirts of Taipei City after returning to Taiwan in the 1980s and worked from a small yet exquisite studio. The space was painted entirely in white and very well lit, and whenever I visited, I would be taken by the dozens of oil paint scrapers that would be so meticulously laid out across his painting table. Lin's extraordinary focus, absoluteness, and his calm, rational, persevering and resolute character which was arguably on the verge of paranoia, paved the way to the start of his ‘White-Parallel-Line Period’ after signing with Marlborough Gallery by the time he was just 32 years of age. Lin’s White Series created during this time was painted with incredible texture so intricate and precise it was often hard to spot with the naked eye. With this, the artist reached the peak of his career before reaching 40 years old. Few in number, the fine works from this period were mainly created between 1965 and 1970, and are vastly different in form and structure from the artist's earlier creations. I still remember Lin telling me more than once that many of his white parallel line works are like diary entries which document his life.

Many people then asked which direction Lin’s style of creativity would be headed. He’d respond with a half-smile. ‘It's already all in white, so there's nothing more to come – it’s blank,’ he would say with a hearty chuckle.

In the mid-1990s, Richard Lin met Yan Xiaoliang. Yan adored Lin, and in addition to taking care of his daily life, she was also acutely aware of the interactive nature of the art market. As a result, she fostered dialogue that would benefit Lin’s career. The artist was often less sympathetic to the market's ‘interference’ of his works. In the Spring of 1998, I received a call from Yan about the work 15 May 1967 (Lot 1043) which I had spotted in his studio. She told me about its exciting proportion and intricate layering, and that it was a work which Lin kept in his own personal collection, as well as being a work produced during the peak of his Purified Minimalist period. Mr. Lin even took time to clean and tidy the work, like he was giving his daughter away. I felt privileged and speechless when I set eyes on 15 May 1967.  Lin said to me with a smile, ‘I’m the only one who can fix and tidy my paintings.’ And that was how 15 May 1967 came to be part of my personal collection, as a work which I’ve kept close to me for more than twenty years. The painting itself was created more than half a century ago.

I later discovered through Lin’s exhibition history that he was at the peak of his artistic career during the years 1966 and 1967, where he participated in more than sixteen formal exhibitions in Europe and America.”

Excerpt from an interview conducted by Sotheby’s specialist
with the present owner of 15 May 1967 on 9 January 2020

Richard Lin rapidly rose to fame in the post-war art world of the 1960s. He began his career when he signed with Gimpel Fils Gallery in London in 1959, and after only a short five years he was invited to participate in Documenta 3 in Kassel, Germany, becoming the first Chinese artist to participate in the prestigious exhibition. Marlborough Fine Art in London began representing Lin in 1966.  Lin’s White Series received recognition by surrealist Joan Miró, who remarked that Lin is unmatched in the world of white. In the same year, Lin was awarded first prize at the “Open Painting Exhibition” organized by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland at the Ulster Museum in Belfast. In 1967, across the Atlantic in America, Lin was invited to participate at the 44th Carnegie International in Pittsburgh and honored with the William Frew Memorial Purchase Award alongside British modern master Francis Bacon. Lin’s winning work was then acquired by the collection of Carnegie Institution. The present 15 May 1967 offered in the Evening Sale was created during this very peak period of the artist’s career, at a time when he received such prestigious recognition from the Western art scene.

Today, the artist’s white aesthetic has come to be recognized as highly unique, striking a distinctive balance of Eastern Zen and Taoism while also displaying Western minimalism and abstraction. The height of 15 May 1967 is exactly two times its width, which is unique, as the artist typically works with square canvasses. Lin stacks meticulous and precise vertical lines against willfully disordered horizontal lines, seemingly to portray the beauty of landscapes through extreme minimalism. The work is reminiscent of the unrivalled landscapes and architectural scenes produced by Yuan Jiang and Yuan Yao, father and son artists from Chinese imperial palace. Lin painted 15 May 1967 at the peak of his career, and the work remained in the artist’s own private collection in the subsequent 31 years, and only in 1998 did it come into the hands of its current collector who had a close friendship with Lin. After a full 22 years, the work will be offered on the market for the very the first time. Sotheby’s also invited the work’s existing owner to share personal accounts of treasured experience, friendship and collection history in order to highlight the glorious years that the present work represents.