Poly Auction will be selling an important early Zao Wou-ki work in Hong Kong next weekend (March 29th). The 1956-57 Et la terre était sans forme set a record when it sold in Hong Kong at Christie’s in 2007. That was before Zao’s prices went through the roof which is why this one is estimated at 11.5-19m USD:
Zao in the mid-50s experienced serious upheavals in his personal life, and feelings that had no other outlet were projected onto his canvas. At that point he entered his most crucial period, the years 1954-58, which have been called his “oracle-bone” period. Given the acclaim that works from that period received from academic critics, most of the larger ones are now in the collections of major museums or other institutions; the appearance of a work such as this on the market is now rare and an extremely valuable find. After its initial showing at the Galerie de France, Paris in 1957, Zao Wou-Ki’s Et la terre était sans forme (Lot 164) was immediately purchased by a collector, and made another appearance on the market only some 50 years later. A throng of spectators gazed expectantly as it set a new market record, and today, ten years later, it is back again, giving us an excellent opportunity to view again this significant, museum-grade work. Based on currently available published information, Zao’s two-by-three-meter Aube-aucun soir ni aucum martin, collected by The National Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto, is the largest work dating from Zao’s “oracle-bone” period, possibly due to the limited size of his studio at the time.