He died in Beijing on Friday.
“He was an inspiration for many Chinese artists, even to this day and one of the most important forces in modern Chinese art,” Tan Ping, vice president of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, said in an interview with the Associated Press on Monday. “This is a very sad loss for the art world.”
Born in China’s eastern province of Jiangsu in 1919, Wu left to study western painting at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-arts in Paris in 1947. He returned to China in 1950 to teach at Tsinghua University and the Central Academy of Fine Arts. He later became known for integrating traditional Chinese ink brush techniques with a contemporary western flair in both ink and oil paintings of landscapes, architecture, animals and people.
Wu’s works have become very valuable in recent years. Earlier this month, his oil painting from 1974 depicting the Yangtze River sold for $8.4 million at a Beijing auction.
Despite selling his works for millions, Wu also wanted the public to enjoy his art, his son Wu Keyu was cited as saying by the official Xinhua News Agency. Wu Keyu said that was why his father insisted on donating his best works to public museums instead of selling them.
In 2008, Wu Guanzhong donated 113 oil and ink paintings valued at $53 million to the Singapore Art Museum. Just shortly before his death, Wu donated five pieces to the Hong Kong Museum of Art, bringing to 52 his total contribution of works to the museum, Xinhua said.
Internationally, Wu gained attention in 1992 by becoming the first living Chinese artist to exhibit at the British Museum and was recognized by the French Ministry of Culture for his accomplishments in 1991.
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