Chu Teh-Chun was a French-Chinese artist acclaimed for harmonising classical Chinese painting with Western abstraction. His lyrical works embody the essence of painting, music and poetry. Spanning the 20th and 21st centuries, his oeuvre attests to the dynamic development of Chinese modern art. Chu and his close friends and classmates Wu Guanzhong and Zao Wou-Ki are known collectively as the 'Three Musketeers' of the movement.
Chu was born in Xiao district in Anhui, China in 1920. Both his father and grandfather were traditional doctors who collected Chinese paintings. In his early childhood, a tutor taught Chu and his two older brothers calligraphy and classical Chinese poetry. With the encouragement of his father, Chu enrolled in the Hangzhou Academy of Fine Arts at the age of 15. It was at the Academy that Chu began his lifelong friendship with Wu Guanzhong.
Between the 1930s and '40s, Chu travelled across China teaching at various institutions and participating in group exhibitions, including one with Zao Wou-Ki in 1945. Upon the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Chu moved to Taiwan and held his first solo exhibition in 1954 at Taipei’s Sun Yatsen Hall. A year later, Chu departed for Paris. During his years abroad, Chu further explored the integration of classical Chinese arts with newfound inspirations from Western abstraction, likening the controlled spontaneity of both techniques.
Chu’s 1964 exhibition at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh and participation in the 1969 Sao Paolo Biennale propelled him to international fame and expanded his market. After exhibiting extensively across the Americas and Europe, Chu returned to Asia. In just six years between the 1980s and '90s, Chu held 24 solo exhibitions, five of them in Taiwan. In 1994, Chu finally held his first solo exhibition in his home country. His ascent continued into the new century, marked with the creation of monumental canvases.
In November 2016, Vertige Neigeux (Snowy Vertigo) (1990–99) sold for $11,800,000 at Christie’s. This monumental painting is an expressive depiction of the snowstorm that Chu saw in 1985 when crossing the Swiss Alps. Chu’s snowstorm paintings are one of his most sought-after subjects for collectors, and Snowy Vertigo became one of the top auction records for the artist.
His last major project before his death in 2014 was Les vases de Sèvres, a series of 58 vases made in collaboration with Manufacture de Sèvres between 2007–09. In 2017, Fondation Chu Teh-Chun was founded to conserve the artist’s legacy.
No. 51 - Mille Vies se Cachent dans le Bois (A Thousand Lives Hiding in the Woods)
No. 54 La montagne lavée par la pluie (No. 54 the Mountain Washed by the Rain)