Sanyu (Chang Yu, Chinese, 1901-1966)  Seated Nude (Nu assis)
Lot 810
Sanyu (Chang Yu, Chinese, 1901-1966)
Seated Nude (Nu assis)
HK$ 25 million - 35 million
US$ 3.2 million - 4.5 million

Lot Details
Sanyu (Chang Yu, Chinese, 1901-1966)  Seated Nude (Nu assis) Sanyu (Chang Yu, Chinese, 1901-1966)  Seated Nude (Nu assis) Sanyu (Chang Yu, Chinese, 1901-1966)  Seated Nude (Nu assis)
Sanyu (Chang Yu, Chinese, 1901-1966)
Seated Nude (Nu assis)
Oil on canvas, framed
Signed Sanyu in French and Yu in Chinese
Signed and dated 1.1931 on the reserve
With a wood label affixed to the stretcher with the initials 'HPR' standing for Henri-Pierre Roché on the reverse
73cm x 50cm (28¾in x 19¾in).

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    Collection of Henri-Pierre Roché, Paris

    Published: Rita Wong, Sanyu: Catalogue Raisonné Oil Paintings, Yageo Foundation, Lin & Keng Art Publications, Taipei, 2001, p.113

    常玉 椅子上的裸女 油彩畫布 一九三一年作

    簽名:玉SANYU

    背面簽名:SANYU 1.1931
    背面畫布框木標籤簽名:HPR(昂利·皮耶·侯謝英文縮寫)

    來源:
    巴黎昂利·皮耶·侯謝私人收藏

    出版:衣淑凡,《常玉油畫全集》,國巨基金會,大未來藝術出版社,台北,2001年,頁113

    Sanyu is today among the most recognized Chinese artists of the 20th century. Trained in calligraphy and traditional Chinese painting from an early age in his homeland, he furthered his artistic education in France, arriving in the French capital only aged 20. Sanyu was deeply inspired by the Parisian art scene. Like many of his compatriots, such as Xu Beihong, Pan Yuliang or Lin Fengmian, who went to study in Paris, he was fascinated by the study of foreign forms. He was among the very first Chinese artists to stay in Paris, then the centre of the international art world, where the informal 'School of Paris' was leading the charge of modernity.

    Sanyu's pioneered the association of the art of ink and the fluidity and rapidity of the Chinese brushstroke with Western subjects, forms and media. The subject he favored was the Nude, then a foreign and forbidden subject in Chinese art education and practice. It is to retain the freedom to explore this Western artistic tradition of painting the Nude, and to be at the core of the artistic experiments of the time that he stayed in Paris. His friend, fellow artist Pan Yuliang, herself came back to Paris for this very reason(Her work depicting the female body was not well-received in China, despite the support of such established masters as Liu Haisu). The keen interest in the Nude, a long standing tradition in the West, is rooted in its novelty for Chinese artists. Rendering the human body, requires different skills and techniques foreign to the Chinese artistic tradition The absence of inhibition both present in the art training available in Paris and in the cultural context of the 'annees folles' (Roaring 20s) in Paris certainly fostered both artists's experiments with the topic and inspired them deeply.

    Sanyu was constantly exploring beyond the art of Chinese ink as well as Western drawing. He relentlessly drew sketches of nudes, with ink, pencil or charcoal and even watercolours. Hundreds of such drawings, sometimes even executed on Parisian cafe's paper tablecloths, remain to testify of his artistic research. These sketches document clearly the artist's experiments and his focus. Sanyu explored postures, angles and perspective as well. While he retains the traditional medium of ink and of the minimalist gesture of the Chinese brushstroke, a major source of inspiration for him is photography, then a new medium for artists. The disproportionate legs many of his sketches feature are notably inspired by the possibilities of photography. The body seems to be viewed from the ground and at an angle instead of at human eye level and straight on. Sanyu was very involved in the Parisian art scene and had relationships with such artists as Picabia, Duchamp or Man Ray. The influence of Man Ray's photographic work is clear in this painting, 'Nu Assis', reminiscent of the 'Violon d'Ingres' (see illustration), probably the most iconic work of Man Ray.

    It is under the influence of his dealer, collector and mentor Henri-Pierre Roché that Sanyu started working with the Western medium of oil painting. An extremely influential art dealer in Paris at the time, related to the most famous artists in the French capital, Henri-Pierre Roché was a also writer, notably famous for the novel Jules et Jim. He introduced Sanyu to many artists in the scene, thus allowing him access to further sources of inspiration.

    Every aspects of Sanyu's artistic research is present in this painting: the Nude, the influence of photography in the pose, the rapid almost uninterrupted single outline of the Chinese ink tradition, executed in the foreign and new to Sanyu media of oil. Many of his paintings show how Sanyu simplifies the rendering of the subject and intends to blend it in a subtle, often uniform, minimal background, but none to this extent. The choice of extremely subtle and delicate colours allows to almost blend the figure in the background. Sanyu's art here borders on the monochrome, which is probably the most avant-garde form of modern painting in the early 20th century (actually initiated in the late 19th century in Paris).

    This painting, coming from the very collection of Henri-Pierre Roché, is the very epitome of Sanyu's quest to bridge East and West, traditional and contemporary. At the time this Seated Nude was painted, in the early 1930's, Sanyu had assimilated most of the formal innovations of the Parisian avant-garde and was playing with them while retaining the spontaneity and minimalism of the calligraphic gesture. 'Nu Assis' truly exemplifies Sanyu's pioneering research and contribution to the 20th century art history in blending the Chinese artistic tradition and the aesthetics of the European avant-garde, then at the forefront of modernity in art. Sanyu's work is undoubtedly about advancing the art of painting and being outside of the norm. 'Nu Assis' embodies the artist's spirit to perfection.

    常玉是最被認可的中國二十世紀藝術家之一。他從小在家鄉學習書法和中國傳統繪畫,二十歲到法國繼續培訓,深受巴黎藝壇的啟發。一如其他到巴黎學習的中國畫家,如徐悲鴻、潘玉良、林風眠,常玉被全然陌生的藝術形式所吸引。巴黎是當時藝術世界的中心,「巴黎畫派」帶領著現代文化,而他是第一代到巴黎留學的中國藝術家之一。

    常玉是首位把中國水墨流動暢快的筆觸和西方藝術的題材與形式聯繫起來的藝術家。他喜愛畫裸體,一個當時在中國還是一個陌生禁戒的主題。他既為了保有探索西方裸體藝術傳統的自由,又想留在當時藝術世界的中心,所以常玉決定留在巴黎。潘玉良也是為了同樣的原因而回到巴黎(儘管有藝術大師劉海粟的鼎力支持,她的女性裸體作品在中國仍然不太受歡迎)。雖然裸體畫在西方有悠久的歷史,對於中國藝術家來說,卻是一個新奇有趣的題材,而中國傳統藝術家對描繪人體所需要的技術還不太熟識。在「咆哮的20年代」(annees folles) 的自由文化背景的熏陶下,加上無拘無束的巴黎藝壇環境,激起常玉和潘玉良兩位藝術家進行不同試驗的熱情,也深深地啟發了他們的藝術創作。

    常玉還同時在中國水墨畫和西方繪畫之外探索,他嘗試用水墨、鉛筆、炭筆、水彩描繪裸體,也試驗了不同的姿勢、角度和觀點。現今傳世的數百張常玉草圖,當中有些更是畫在巴黎咖啡廳的紙巾上,都見證著他孜孜不倦的藝術研究,並清楚地記錄下他的探索專注。雖然他保留了傳統的中國水墨和簡約的風格,但常玉的主要靈感來源是當時的新銳媒介─攝影。受到攝影的啟發,常玉經常畫出不成比例的大腿,最後還成為了他作品的特色。他作品中視角彷彿是從地面往上看,而不是從眼睛水平直視。同時,常玉在巴黎藝術圈子亦十分活躍,跟Picabia, Duchamp和Man Ray都有來往。 Man Ray的攝影作品對他這幅畫〈椅子上的裸女〉的影響十分明顯,尢其和Man Ray最具代表性的作品'Violon d'Ingres'格外相似。

    在他的畫商、收藏家和導師Henri-Pierre Roche的影響下,常玉開始鑽研西方油畫創作。 Henri Pierre Roche是一個在巴黎藝壇擁有廣闊人脈的畫商,也是著名小說Jules et Jim的作家。他與法國首都大部分最有名望的藝術家都有聯繫。通過他的介紹,常玉認識了很多藝術家,從而得到更多的靈感和啟發。

    〈椅子上的裸女〉是常玉藝術風格的典範。不論是裸體主題和受攝影啟發的姿勢,或是靈活而流暢的傳統中國水墨線條,還有對常玉來說新奇陌生的油畫媒介,〈椅子上的裸女〉呈現了常玉藝術研究的每一方面。 〈椅子上的裸女〉比常玉其他的裸女油畫都更能展示出他如何簡化畫中人物,並融合在簡單而微妙的背景中。此幅畫作近乎以單色而成,屬20世紀初最前衛的現代繪畫形式(實際上始於19世紀後期巴黎)。

    這幅畫來自Henri Pierre Roche的收藏,充分展現了常玉如何融合東方和西方、合併傳統和當代。在30年代初,當他畫〈椅子上的裸女〉時,常玉已經掌握了巴黎前衛的創新風格,並巧妙地利用它們,與此同時亦不失中國書法的自然和簡約。 〈椅子上的裸女〉真正地體現了常玉的創新研究和他對二十世紀藝術史的貢獻,融合了中國傳統繪畫和歐洲的前衛。常玉的作品無容置疑地對繪畫的發展有重大貢獻,並跳出了當時的框架。 〈椅子上的裸女〉可說是藝術家的精神的完美呈現。
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