Wu Dayu China, 1903-1988

Born in Yixing, Jiangsu Province, China


Wu Dayu went to Paris in 1922, where he was enrolled at the L'École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts.Wu was among the first group of Chinese artists who studied in France under the work-study program sponsored by the Chinese government. First he studied oil painting with Professor Rouge. Then in 1923 he transferred to the studio of sculptor Antoine Bourdelle. During his time in France, he was influenced by Fauvism, Cubism and abstract expressionism.


In 1924, Wu cofounded the Phoebus Society (later renamed as the Oversea Art Movement Society) in Paris with Lin Fengmian, Li Jinfa, Liu Jipiao, and other Chinese artists. In the same year, the society held an exhibition titled Chinese Art Exhibitionin Palais du Rhin inStrasbourg. Wu was one of the first artists to be selected for this exhibition.


Combining the concept of Western abstract art with Chinese traditional painting theory and Chinese philosophy, Wu’s paintings emphasize the balanced combination of shape, light, color, and rhythm, aiming to realize a modern expression of art. Wu was one of the leading figures of the Chinese abstract art movement in China. After his return to Shanghai in 1927, Wu taught at various art schools. In 1928 he cofounded the National Hangzhou Arts Academy and became chair of the Western painting department. He also confounded the Art Movement Society with Lin Fengmian and Lin Wencheng, regularly showing his work at exhibitions organized by the society. Wu passed away in Shanghai in 1988. Since his death, his work has been the subject of closer examination and many retrospective exhibitions, including at the Shanghai Art Museum (1995 and 2003) and the National Museum of History in Taipei (1996).


His solo exhibitions include Wu Dayu, Forefather of Chinese Abstraction , Tina Keng Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan (2021); Wu Dayu's Drawer, Tina Keng Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan (2016); Wu Dayu Solo Exhibition, Tina Keng Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan (2011); Wu Dayu Solo Exhibition, Lin & Keng Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan (2005); Retrospective of Wu Dayu Oil Paintings, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China (2003); Exhibition of Wu Dayu’s Painting, National Museum of History, Taipei, Taiwan (2001).Group exhibitions include Abstract China, Lin & Keng Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan (2006); Modern Chinese Abstract Art (2005); Wu Dayu and His Students of National Hangzou Art Academy, Lin & Keng Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan (1996); A Retrospective Exhibition of Oil Painting in Shanghai, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China (1995); Contemporary Oil Paintings From the People’s Republic of China, Harkness House, New York, NY, U.S. (1987).