The Lillies

Zao Wou-Ki
Early 1950s


This work by Zao Wou-Ki, a member of the second generation of Chinese artists to study in France, is an important example of evolution in his style. During a 1951 voyage to Switzerland, Zao Wou-Ki was inspired by Paul Klee’s work and took distance from his pre-1950 style tending towards Expressionism, thereby entering his “Klee period.” In this period of Zao Wou-Ki’s work, paintings with flower subject matter are extremely rare. The Lillies, all while carrying on the traditional Chinese use of lines, reflect even more his continuation and revival of traditional Chinese bird and flower motifs, and can be considered a work representative both of Zao Wou-Ki’s harmonious blend of Chinese and Western aesthetics and his combination of traditional elements and modernism.

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