Yun Gee (Chinese/American, 1905-1963), (Zhu Yuanzhi)  朱沅芷 Portrait of a Man

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Lot 5
Yun Gee
(Chinese/American, 1905-1963)
(Zhu Yuanzhi)
朱沅芷
Portrait of a Man

HK$ 1,000,000 - 1,500,000
US$ 130,000 - 190,000
Yun Gee (Chinese/American, 1905-1963), (Zhu Yuanzhi)
朱沅芷
Portrait of a Man
1928

signed and dated in Chinese
oil on board

48 x 38 cm (18 7/8 x 14 15/16 in)

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Private Collection, France

    朱沅芷
    男人肖像
    油彩木板
    1928年作

    簽名: 民国十七年春 沅芷 YUN GEE

    來源
    法國私人收藏

    Yun Gee's legendary life reads like a microcosm of the twentieth century. Born in 1906 in Guangdong, and impacted by the war and tumult of the era, he emigrated to America with his father, but he persisted his pursuit of art for his entire life, and his works shine with a living aura. This artist from China first stepped into the limelight in the Western art scene in the early 20th century. In 1926, the California School of Fine Art, where Yun Gee was a student, appointed artist Otis Oldfield (1890–1969) as a professor. An avant-garde figure for his time, Oldfield sparked the light of the new in Yun Gee, who was then weary of old, stagnant styles. Within two months, Gee had incorporated Oldfield's signature "color zoning" technique to make breakthroughs in portraiture that had always eluded the Cubists. That same year, ten artists, including Gee, Oldifeld and others, established Modern Gallery, the first artist-run cooperative gallery on America's West Coast. Modern Gallery quickly rose to fame in California. This new approach was a momentous event in the San Francisco art scene. The gallery's first exhibition focused on Gee. It was the first major exhibition in his career.

    This Asian-American who did not enjoy full status as a Western artist managed to sell almost all of the more than twenty works in the exhibition. The Prince and Princess Murat, visiting from Paris, came to the gallery at the introduction of one Mrs. Salinger, editor-in-chief of the prominent local art magazine , Argus,. The Prince and Princess were astounded by Gee's grasp of avant-garde techniques and his ability to marshal them to express a unique style, in which fields of pure color were interlocked to depict the streets of San Francisco. Gee's unique techniques, however, surpassed Cubism in their ability to express the subject. With their enthusiastic encouragement, Gee boarded a ship to Europe in 1927, determined to seek out his dreams in the world art capital of Paris, and to spread the artistic culture of China.

    Upon his arrival in Paris, Gee was quickly able to hold his first solo show at Galerie Carmine. At the exhibition's opening, Raymond Duncan, elder brother of Isadora Duncan, enthusiastically presented Zhu to the Parisian painting scene. A local paper published a review: Yun Gee is a Chinese painter of unlimited future potential. His works show solid skills, rich colors, and impressive wholeness. Though his techniques and colors are highly modern, the inspiration assuredly comes from the real China. Reserved and unassuming, it is entirely in keeping with Chinese artistic traditions. , Affirmed by the Paris art scene, and supported by noble patrons, Yun Gee had a smooth path to fame, and this endless wellspring of creativity spread forth in Paris.

    This auction item, Portrait of a Man, was painted in 1928, in the 17th year of China's Republican Era. He had just met the woman who would be his first wife, Princess Paule de Reuss, and the two were deeply in love. It also meant that more socialites were commissioning portraits from him. The boy's skin tone arises from accumulated blocks of pure color that give a sense of depth to his profile, and a supple redness to his skin. We can almost feel the shifting of the light source as he painted, while also capturing the sense of natural light on his face. The figure, with thick brows and large eyes, holds a steady gaze, nobility and humility radiating from his eyes. His tidy suit and neat hair mark him as a member of Paris high society. Gee's painting style in this period carried on the influence of the color zoning technique, and put his unique style on full display. The color fields are finer here. This was the gestation period of his "Diamondist theory." This work was painted before that theory was officially born, but we can already see layers of material (color, form and lighting), psychology (emotions, desires and observations), and intellect (time, morality and principles), alongside Gee's unique pursuit of a sublime union between materiality and intelligence, creating an enduring image of this young man. This work was originally in an Asian collection, but entered into an important French collection in the 1990s. This is its first appearance on the market in nearly a century. It is a rare and precious work from Gee's oeuvre.

    朱沅芷的傳奇人生如20世紀時代縮影,1906年出生於廣東的他因戰亂和時代動盪的影響下,跟隨父親移民美國,他一生堅持對藝術的追求,在其作品中綻放生命光芒。作一位來自中國的藝術家,在20世紀初西方藝壇被認可並嶄露頭角。在1926年,朱沅芷當時就讀的加州藝術學院聘請了藝術家歐提斯 · 歐菲德 (1890-1969) 擔任教授。當時前衛的歐菲德,讓原本對陳舊風氣感到1969) 擔任教授煥然一新。不到一兩個月,朱氏融會貫通歐菲德獨創的「色域理論」,突破立體畫派難以掌握的人物肖像。同年,朱沅芷和歐菲德等十位藝術家成立了美國西岸第一間由藝術家聯合經營的合作畫廊,「現代畫廊」就在加州打開了知名度。此舉作法新潮,在三藩市藝術界為一大盛事。畫廊的開幕展便主打朱沅芷,他生平中第一個展覽在此開幕。

    當時身為美籍亞裔,身份不及西方藝術家的他,展出的20多件作品幾乎全數售出。遠自巴黎的慕勒王子和王妃在三藩市最重要的「奧加斯」藝術雜誌主編莎琳潔夫人介紹下來到了畫廊。慕勒王子和王妃對朱沅芷能掌握前衛畫派技巧,再走出個人風格感到驚訝,純粹顏色的色塊交替運用,描繪出三藩市生動的街景,但朱氏獨特的手法卻比立體主義更能表現主題。在他們的熱切鼓勵下, 朱沅芷在1927年登船赴歐,決心到藝術之都巴黎追尋夢想,發揚中華藝術文化。抵達巴黎後,朱沅芷順利地在卡明畫廊舉辦了第一個個展。在展覽開幕後,雷蒙·鄧肯——伊莎朵拉·鄧肯的哥哥,大力向巴黎畫壇介紹朱氏。當地報紙刊登了藝評:「朱沅芷是為前途無限的中國畫家。他的作品功力紮實、色彩豐富,具有令人驚嘆的完整性。雖然他的技巧與色調十分現代,但靈感卻無疑是真正中國的,延成了中國藝術的傳統。」朱沅芷在巴黎藝壇受到了肯定,因貴人相助,順利打開了在巴黎的知名度,創作泉源源源不斷的盛開發揚。

    拍品《男子肖像》繪於1928年,民國17年春天,也在這個時期,他遇見了第一任妻子苞爾德·洛絲,兩人陷入熱戀,也因此有更多名流邀請朱沅芷創作肖像畫。畫中男子的膚色,由不同的純色色塊堆疊出輪廓的立體感和潤紅的膚色。彷彿可以感受當時光線隨時間移動,卻又能捕捉定格在臉龐上的自然光感。濃眉大眼的主角神情穩重,雙眼流露出上流紳士高貴謙虛的精神。利落的西裝和端正髮型可判定是巴黎的名人雅士。這個時期的畫風延續了「色域理論」的影響,成熟展現自己的風格,色塊間的結構組合更細緻,也是他發展「鑽石主義理論」的滋養期。此幅作品在理論正式誕生之前所繪,但畫中已經可以看到物質(色彩、形式、光彩)、心理(情緒、慾望、觀察)和知性(時間、道德、宗旨)層面,以及朱氏追求物質和靈性結合的崇高理想,繪下主角不朽的人物神韻。此作原為亞洲收藏,於90年代被法國重要收藏家收藏。此件在近百年後第一次在市場釋出,是朱氏難得的珍品佳作。
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