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 C. C. (Wang Chi-Chien) Wang  (1907 - 2003)



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Lived/Active: New York / China      Known for: Chinese mountain landscape, calligraphy

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Jiqian Wang is primarily known as C. C. (Wang Chi-Chien) Wang

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following obituary of the artist from the "New York Times" and chronology is submitted by a family member.

C.C. Wang was born in Wu County, Jiangsu Province, China on February 14, 1907 and died in New York City on July 3, 2003. He had several acceptable spellings of his name in Roman characters: Wang Chi-Chien, Wang Chi-Chuan, and Wang Jiqian. Since 1949, he has lived in New York City. He is best known for his subject matter of mountain landscapes in China and calligraphy in ink and watercolor on rice paper. Scholars of Asian art would describe his style as abstraction and linked to the Chinese Modern Literati School, which is 20th-century expression of a five-thousand year tradition of Chinese painting and a direct result of the Cultural Revolution in China.

"C. C. Wang, Art Collector and Artist Trained in China, Dies at 96"

C. C. Wang, a Chinese-American artist and collector, who sold important and sometimes controversial examples of classical Chinese painting to many American museums and who was viewed by admirers as the last in a centuries-old line of Chinese scholar-artists, died on Thursday in Manhattan. He was 96 and lived in Manhattan.

Mr. Wang (pronounced wong) was born Wang Jiqian near Suzhou in 1907. In his teens he began developing the interrelated skills of painting, collecting and selling traditionally associated with the Chinese art expert. In his view, knowledge of classical Chinese painting was most successfully shaped through a personal mastery of painting techniques, particularly the use of brush and ink.

After studying both law and painting in Shanghai, Mr. Wang decided to devote himself to art. In 1936 he was asked to be an adviser to the committee organizing the ground-breaking London exhibition of art from the Palace Museum in Beijing. This allowed him to examine all the paintings in the imperial collection, something no private citizen had ever done. "Not yet 30 years old," Arnold Chang wrote in 1997, "Wang Jiqian had already studied more important Chinese paintings than virtually anyone alive."

In 1949, to escape the political chaos of postwar China, he moved to the United States. Settling in Manhattan, he took courses at the Art Students League and, deeply influenced by Abstract Expressionism, began to work in a highly colored abstract mode derived, in part, on calligraphic forms.

In New York he supported his family by teaching, consulting at Sotheby's, dealing in real estate and collecting and selling art. In 1973 the Metropolitan Museum of Art bought 25 Song and Yuan paintings from him and eventually acquired some 60 works, including the colossal hanging scroll "Riverbank." Although the Met attributed the painting to the 10th-century painter Dong Yuan, some scholars dismissed it as modern fabrication.

He is survived by a son, S. K. Wang, and two daughters, Hsien-chen Wang Chang and Yien-koo Wang King, all of New York City, and 11 grandchildren.

His own art, which has made him a cultural hero in China, was included in numerous museum exhibitions. A show titled "Mind Landscapes: The Paintings of C. C. Wang," was organized by Jerome Silbergeld for the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle in 1989.
Mr. Wang viewed a life in art as a total-immersion experience, with varied but intertwined rewards. He wanted to be remembered above all as an artist.

Although he rarely spoke publicly about his work, what he said of the 14th-century scholar-painter in exile Ni Zan, he might have said of himself: "He does not have an elaborate story to tell, but mainly wants to express his thoughts and feelings."

Born in Wu County, Jiangsu Province, China.

Studied under Suzhou painter Gu Linshi (1865-1933), who is also a collector of classical Chinese painting.

Studied painting with well-known painter and collector Wu Hufan (1894-1968) in Shanghai while simultaneously studying law in the evening Law School in the Soo Chow University.

Served as member of the committee for the first major exhibition of Chinese art from Beijing Palace Museum collection in London, England.

Co-authored "The Seals of Chinese Painters and Collectors in Ming and Qing Dynasties" with German art historian Dr. Victoria contag. (Note: Revised edition with supplement was published later in 1966 by the Chinese University of Hong Kong) Taught chinese painting at the Shanghai and Suzhou Academies of Art.

1949 Moved to the United States.

Began to study Western painting at the Art Students' League, New York, New York.
Exhibited his first one-man show at the Warren E. Cox Gallery, New York, New York.

Taught painting at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Served as Chairman at the Art Department of Chinese University of Hong Kong, and also taught Chinese painting at the same university (1962-1964).

Exhibited in "The New Chinese Landscape: Six Contemporary Chinese Artists", which circulated throughout the United States, under the auspices of the American Federation of Arts, New York, New York.

Solo exhibition: M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, California.

Appointed Lifetime Fellow of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York.

Published first book "Mountains of the Mind: The Landscape Paintings of Wang Chi-Ch'ien" (John Weatherhill, Inc., New York and Tokyo) with Professor James Cahill's introduction.

Retrospective exhibition, Los Angeles County Museum, Los Angeles, California.
Exhibited at "Chinese Painting at Mid-Century", sponsored by the Renaissance Society, University of Chicago.

Solo exhibitions: China Institute of America, New York, New York; Honolulu Academy of Arts, Honolulu, Hawaii; Fresno College, Fresno, California; Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Solo exhibitions: Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts; The New Gallery, Schacht Fine Arts Center at Russell Sage College, Troy, New York; Chinese Culture Center, New York, New York; New Paltz State University, New Paltz, New York

Elected "benefactor" and permanent member of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York

Solo exhibition: Columbia University, New York, New York

Solo exhibitions: Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, Illinois; Chinese Culture Foundation, Scan Francisco, California

Retrospective exhibition, The Brooklyn Museum, New York, sponsored by the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, Washington, D.C., and the international Exhibition Foundation, Washington, DC, A catalogue, The Landscape of C. C. Wang: Mountains of the Mind" was published to complement the exhibition. The exhibition traveled to many cities throughout the United States

Invited to serve as consultant to the Chinese Painting Department at Sotheby's International, New York, New York.

In additional, throughout the late 70's and 80's, C.C. Wang also had exhibited widely at museum, art galleries, and universities thoughtout the country and East Asia, including: Yale University, University of California at Berkeley, Tulane University, University of North Carolina, Pennsylvania State University, Indianapolis University, Columbia University and the Chicago Institute of Art.

Exhibited in "Paintings and Calligraphy by Wu Hufan and His Disciples of Meiying Studio", Shanghai, China.

Solo exhibition: Hugh Moss Gallery, London, England.

Solo exhibitions: Hong Kong Arts Centre, Sponsored By the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong; National Museum of History, Taipei, Taiwan.

Participated in the show "Masterpieces of Two Chinese Artists" with the artist Wang Fangyu at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, Taiwan.

Invited to be an advisor to the "Art Connoisseurship", a renowned quarterly magazine published in Shanghai, China.

Invited to be an Honorary Member of the Shanghai Academy of Art, Shanghai, China.
Published C. C. Wang: Landscape Paintings (University of Washington Press, Seattle and London) with an introducation by Professor James Cahill.
Solo exhibition: Hong Kong Art Centre, Hong Kong
Exhibited in "The Mountain Retreat: Landscape in Modern Chines Painting", Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, Colorado and Emily Lowe Gallery, Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York.

Served as Visiting Professor of Fine Arts, Shanghai Institute of Chinese Painting, Shanghai, China.
Solo exhibition: Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, Alabama.

Retrospective exhibition, "Mind Landscape: The Paintings of C. C. Wang", organized by the Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington. The Exhibition traveled to the Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas; the Chinese Culture Center, San Francisco, California; the China Institute in America, New York, New York.

Exhibited in "Six Twentieth Century Chinese Artists", from the collection of Murray Smith, at the Los Angeles Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California.

Received the Governor's Asian American Heritage Month award from Governor Mario M. Cuomo, New York, New York.
Exhibited at Liaoning Museum at Shenyang, Liaoning Province, China.
Solo exhibition: Sponsored by Lo Shan Tang, Hong Kong.
Solo exhibition of Calligraphy: Gallery 456, New York, New York.

Solo exhibition of Calligraphy: L. J. Wender Gallery, New York, New York

Published "C. C. Wang Recent Works" with foreword by Arnold Chang
Received the Certificate of Merit from New York City in recognition of outstanding achievement in the arts.

Exhibited in "Not Knowing: Affinities in Eastern and Western Art", Gallery Schlesinger, New York
Solo exhibitions: Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, Taiwan; National Tsing Hua University Art Center, Hsin-Chu, Taiwan; Pristine Harmony Art Center, Taipei, Taiwan.
Solo exhibition of landscapes and calligraphy with accompanying catalogue, "C.C. Wang: Landscape and calligraphic images", Plum Blossoms Gallery, Hong Kong and Singapore.

1995 Exhibition "The C.C. Wang Family Collection of Fantastic Rocks" E&J Frankel Ltd., New York, New York.
Solo exhibition of painting and calligraphy "C.C. Wang: old Master, New Ideas" at E&J Frankel Ltd., New York, New York.
Participated in the group show "Art of Ink in America" at Gallery Korea, New York, New York.
Exhibited at Elizabeth Wang Gallery, New York, New York.

1996 Exhibited at "Living Master's Recent Painting by C.C. Wang", Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, California.

1997 Exhibition "C.C. Wang at Ninety", Kaikodo Gallery, New York, New York.
Participated in the group show "Asian Traditions, Modern Expressions: Asian American Artists and Abstraction 1945-1970" at Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, the State University of New Jersey, Rutgers, New Jersey.

Due to his active participation in Chinese painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the museum honored him by dedicating a room named "C.C. Wang Family Gallery" within its Chinese Painting Gallery.

Exhibited with Sing F. Ma at "The Collection of Painting and Calligraphy by the american Artists C.C. Wang & Ma Singfoon" at Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China. The museum also published the catalog under the same name. A congratulatory letter from President & Mrs. Clinton sent to the opening ceremony of the exhibition in Hong Kong.
Published the catalog for the exhibition "C.C. Wang & Sing F. Ma Art Works" at Grand Peking Gallery, Hong Kong.
Exhibition "The Master & Pupil Exhibit of C.C. Wang & Ma Singfoon for Charity" held at the City Hall, Hong Kong, sponsored by Sheen Hok Charitable Foundation.
Participated the exhibition "A Century in Crisis: Modernity and Tradition in the Art of Twentieth- Century china" at the Soho Guggenheim Museum, New York, New York.

Exhibition "The Artist as Collector: Masterpieces of Chinese Painting from C.C. Wang Family Collection" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York.
Co-exhibited modern works with Wucius Wang in "Calligraphy and Beyond" at the Plum Blossoms Gallery in Hong Kong and Singapore.

2000 Group exhibition "Madame Chiang Sung Meiling with Other Masters for the Year of 2000" at the Wolrd Journal Art Gallery, Whitestone, New York.
Exhibition in Ethan Cohen Fine Arts Gallery in New York, New York.
Group show "Big Apple Chinese" with other Chinese artists, Kaikodo Gallery, New York, New York.

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