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Chu Teh-Chun

Chinese, 1920-2014

Chu Teh-Chun was born in the town of Baitu, China. His father was a doctor but also a skilled painter who encouraged his son to study fine art. In 1935 Chu enlisted at the National School of Fine Arts in Hangzhou, alongside Zao Wou-Ki. In 1949 he moved to Taiwan due to the Communist party gaining power in Mainland China and taught at the National Taiwan Normal University. His teachings were focused on the avant-garde movements that were flourishing in the West as well as traditional Chinese painting techniques. 

 In 1955 Chu Teh-Chun and his wife Tung Ching-Chao, moved to Paris where they would remain for the rest of their lives. The following year Chu painted a portrait of Tung that won him the silver medal award at the Spring Salon in Paris. The painting was nick-named, the Mona Lisa of the East. Later that year Chu visited a Nicolas de Stäel retrospective which had a profound effect on him. He sharply moved away from figurative painting and started focusing on abstract landscapes. This led him to form a style that would become synonymous with his work; the use of bold sweeping strokes of colour which are reflective of his roots in calligraphy and interlinked the East with the West.  

From that moment, Chu Teh-Chun’s work thrived and it was his acclaimed exhibition in 1964 at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, which brought him to the international forefront of abstract art. His works are shown in museums worldwide and he has had several major exhibitions throughout his career, most notably at the Shanghai Art Museum in 2005 and at Beijing’s National Art Museum of China in 2010.  

In 1980 Chu Teh-Chun became a French citizen and in 1997 he became the first ethnic member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts. 

Chu died in Paris in 2014 at the age of 93.

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