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Sanyu Catalogue Raisonne: Oil Paintings

by Rita Wong

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Sanyu, born in Sichuan in 1901, was among the first group of Chinese artists who, in the aftermath of the May Fourth Movement in China, travelled to Europe in the early 1920s to study art. Settling in Paris, Sanyu immediately fell in with the bon amie artistic lifestyle flourishing at that time. At classes at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere and the cafes of Montparnasse he mingled with other young artists from all over the world. Unlike his Chinese contemporaries such as Xu Beihong and Lin Fengmian, who returned to China and achieved recognition in the art academies, Sanyu chose to remain in Paris, deeply committed to continuing his artistic development. Had he returned, he most probably would have attained the fame and recognition that eluded him during his lifetime. Instead, he died in Paris in 1966 in abject poverty and obscurity. Immersed in the heady environment of the Paris school in the first half of the 20th century, Sanyu learned to fuse and integrate elements of his traditional Chinese training with aspects of the new modernist trends. The intersecting dynamics he explored and expressed resulted in a hybridisation heretofore unseen and Sanyu can be regarded as one of the pivotal pioneers in this period of Chinese art history.… (more)
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Sanyu, born in Sichuan in 1901, was among the first group of Chinese artists who, in the aftermath of the May Fourth Movement in China, travelled to Europe in the early 1920s to study art. Settling in Paris, Sanyu immediately fell in with the bon amie artistic lifestyle flourishing at that time. At classes at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere and the cafes of Montparnasse he mingled with other young artists from all over the world. Unlike his Chinese contemporaries such as Xu Beihong and Lin Fengmian, who returned to China and achieved recognition in the art academies, Sanyu chose to remain in Paris, deeply committed to continuing his artistic development. Had he returned, he most probably would have attained the fame and recognition that eluded him during his lifetime. Instead, he died in Paris in 1966 in abject poverty and obscurity. Immersed in the heady environment of the Paris school in the first half of the 20th century, Sanyu learned to fuse and integrate elements of his traditional Chinese training with aspects of the new modernist trends. The intersecting dynamics he explored and expressed resulted in a hybridisation heretofore unseen and Sanyu can be regarded as one of the pivotal pioneers in this period of Chinese art history.

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