The French press is reporting that Zao Wou-Ki, a giant among Chinese modern artists who has lived in France for most of his life, has died. Zao’s work has been the bedrock of the Chinese art market in Hong Kong and the West for several years with prices rising and a blue-chip value unlike any other Chinese painter working in the abstract idiom:
Chinese-French abstract painter Zao Wou-Ki, a significant figure in 20th-century Chinese art, died Tuesday at his home in Switzerland aged 93, a lawyer for his wife told AFP.
A lawyer for Zao’s son, who was in a legal battle with his father’s wife to obtain power-of-attorney over the artist, confirmed the death and said Zao, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, had been hospitalised twice since the end of March.
Update: Zao’s Hong Kong dealer adds this off-the-wall comment in the New York Times’s belated obituary:
“Zao’s paintings are extremely rare,” said Mr. de Sarthe, whose gallery will be showing one Zao work at the first Art Basel Hong Kong next month. “It’s almost easier to find a Picasso.”