Modern & Contemporary Chinese Art
Ding Yanyong (Chinese, 1902–1978)
Album of Six Leaves, 1969–1970
album of six leaves, ink and color on paper
Gift of Red Rock Studio, Hong Kong, A Williams Alumnus
Photo by Jim Gipe-Pivot Media and Stephen Petegorsky
Ding Yanyong (1902–1978, Maopo village) showed promise in painting and calligraphy from a young age. In 1920, he left for Japan to study modern Western art at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts, where he was influenced by the work of Henri Matisse and the Fauves. Ding was also an avid collector of Chinese art. In the 1930s, he returned to a traditional Chinese ink style, for which he was heavily criticized by Chinese artists who saw traditional painting as a dead end. During this period, he was particularly inspired by the seventeenth-century painter Ba Da Shan Ren, who went into self-imposed exile. This association would become even more relevant to Ding. During the Communist takeover in 1949, Ding fled to Hong Kong where he spent the rest of his life, isolated from his family and friends. Despite these circumstances, his artwork was often lighthearted and joyful. Ding prized spontaneity in his art, delighting in innovative brushwork and simplified compositions.
Ding inscribed “Painted by Ding Yanyong” on each painting in the album.