Making a Splash: Discover Zhang Daqian’s Ink Masterpieces


The splashed ink paintings of Zhang Daqian (1899-1983) have earned the artist a reputation as an innovator and as one of the leading Chinese-born modern artists of the 20th Century. The artist, who was also one of the last great exemplars of traditionalist Chinese brush painting was himself somewhat uncomfortable being labelled a modernist. When many contemporary observers saw his splashed ink style as a response to Western Modern Art, Zhang responded by asserting that his technique had mainly evolved in response to severe eye problems. He also believed that he was reviving methods and stylistic tendencies that had been present in ancient China. Still, it should be noted that beginning in the early 1950s, when Zhang began taking regular trips to the United States, he was exposed to Abstract Expressionism and told friends that he felt a sense of competition with Western artists.

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