Born in 1943 in Gansu, China
Lives and works in New York
Zhang Hongtu was born and raised in a devoted Chinese Muslim family. Zhang entered the Central Academy of Arts and Crafts in Beijing in 1964 and graduated in 1969, but due to unrest during the Cultural Revolution, remained at the school until 1973. In 1980 he went to the Mogao Caves in Dunhuang, Gansu Province, to study wall paintings, which left a lasting influence on his art practice. He moved to New York in 1982, and received the painting prize from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation in 1991.
Inspired by Mao Zedong, in 1987 Zhang Hongtu retouched the man on the Quaker Oats carton to closely resemble Mao in the work Quaker Oats Mao (1987), and other works such as Chairmen Mao (1989), in a satiric deconstruction predating China’s Political Pop art movement, which became very well-known in the early 1990s. In recent years, Zhang Hongtu has shifted his focus to shan shui. Having worked on the “Repaint Chinese Shan Shui” series since 1998, he has consciously emulated the painting styles of such masters as Paul Cézanne (1839–1906), Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890) and Claude Monet (1840–1926) for well over a decade, such that he has created his own distinguished style by juxtaposing the East and West. In recent years, his practice pivots around the relationship between nature and the human condition.
He has exhibited internationally, including Zhang Hongtu: If Bison Can Dream, Tina Keng Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan (2021); Frieze New York, New York, U.S. (2021 and 2019); Culture Mixmaster Zhang Hongtu, Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art, Kansas State University, U.S. (2018); Zhang Hongtu: Van Gogh/Bodhidharma, Tina Keng Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan (2018); Zhang Hongtu: Van Gogh/Bodhidharma, Charles E. Shain Library, Connecticut College, U.S. (2018); Art and China After 1989: Theater of the World, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, U.S. (2017); Zhang Hongtu, Queens Museum, New York, U.S. (2015); The Journey Begins: Zhang Hongtu 1985–2004, Tina Keng Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan (2015); Picasso in Contemporary Art, The Hall for Contemporary Art, Deichtorhallen, Hamburg, Germany (2015); China: Through the Looking Glass, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, U.S. (2015); A Brief History of Humankind, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel (2015); and Post-Picasso: Contemporary Reactions, Museu Picasso, Barcelona, Spain (2014). Zhang’s work is housed in renowned institutions and private collections, such as the National Museum of Art, Beijing, China; Guangzhou Art Museum, Guangzhou, China; Bronx Museum of the Arts, NY; Princeton University Art Museum, NJ, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, among many others.