Modern & Contemporary Chinese Art
Chen Zizhuang (Chinese, 1907–1976)
Birds and Flowers, mid-20th century
album of eight 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
Chen Zizhuang (1907–1976, Chongqing) began making art early in life, starting to study in the private studio of his teacher’s home at age six. Brought up in poverty in Sichuan province, he practiced drawing while herding cattle. After 1937, he studied with two famous twentieth-century painters—Huang Binhong and Qi Baishi. By the 1950s, Chen had developed a personal style rooted in Chinese culture that incorporated lively calligraphic brushstrokes to animate his subjects. According to Chen, “meaning is generated because of the atmosphere, and law is established because of the meaning.” He believed that artistic forms should be inspired by nature, a common philosophy among Chinese artists.