SANYU 常玉 (1901-1966)
Crayon sur papier
29,5 x 19,5 cm.
Born in 1901 in
Sichuan China, Sanyu is often regarded as "the Chinese Matisse".
Sanyu, was among the first group of Chinese artists who, in the excitement of
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 fantastic artistic lifestyle flourishing at
that time: indeed, in France, the painful memories of the First World War led
to a widespread shift in philosophies and attitudes on existence: people were
desperate to enjoy the pleasures of the present, without concern for the
future. In Europe, the 1920s became known as the Roaring 20s (Les
Années Folles). Casting off the constraints of societal codes, new and
extravagant trends, lifestyles and fashions emerged; the market for decorative
arts thrived, interest in exotic oriental culture grew. Paris
flourished into an international art centre - artists of all nationalities
gravitated towards Paris to immerse in the exhilarating freedom and openness of
the environment. The nurturing environment of Paris helped artists discover an
individualistic voice from their respective backgrounds. This group of
international artists became loosely known as the “School of Paris”
at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière and frequenting the cafés of
Montparnasse, Sanyu mingled and exchanged ideas with other young artists from
all over the world. From 1925 onwards, Sanyu regularly exhibited his artworks
in Salons d’Automne (1925, 1928) and local galleries. Sanyu’s works were
regularly selected in Exhibition at the Salon des Indépendants (1932, 1938,
1942-1946, 1948, 1954-1956). He was enlisted in the renowned publication of
Contemporary Art Encyclopedia 1910-1930 in 1932. He returned to China for a short
period of time when his brother passed away in 1938. In 1948 Sanyu moved to New
York for two years. The artist passed away in 1966.
After his death,
the National Museum of History in Taipei regularly held
exhibitions and seminars on his works. In 2001, a grand retrospective
exhibition was held at the Taipei National Museum of History and
142 pieces of his artwork were exhibited. In 2004, the Musée Guimet organized
Sanyu, L'Ecriture Du Corps (Language of the body), an extensive retrospective
of Sanyu's works.
Today, the work of
Sanyu has gained worldwide critical attention and his works are being collected
throughout the world.