Biography of Chang Dai-chien

“So prodigious was his virtuosity within the medium of Chinese ink and colour that it seemed he could paint anything. His output spanned a huge range, from archaising works based on the early masters of Chinese painting to the innovations of his late works which connect with the language of Western abstract art.”
Jiazi, Chen; Kwok, Ken (2001),
Chang Dai-Chien: The Enigmatic Genius

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Chang Dai-chien (張大千), also Zhang Daqian/Daiqian, is one of the best known and most prodigious 20th century Chinese artists. During one period in his life, he owned a pet gibbon. He is also famous for his skilled forgeries.

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1899 – He is born on May 10th in Sichuan Province, China.

c.1912 – At age 12, he is commissioned for the first time, by a traveling fortune-teller to paint her a new set of divining cards.

c.1917 – At age 17, he is captured by bandits on his way home from boarding school in Chongqing. His writing skills earn him a job as the bandit chief’s personal secretary.

1920s – He moves to Beijing and begins collaborating with Pu Xinyu.

1930s – He works out of a studio on the grounds of the Master of the Nets Garden in Suzhou.

1940 – He leads a group of artists in copying Buddhist wall paintings in the Mogao and Yulin caves.

1949 – He leaves China and lives in Mendoza, Argentina, Sao Paulo, and Mogi das Cruzes, Brazil.

1950s – His eyesight worsens and he develops his splashed color style.

1956 – He meets Picasso in Nice, France and they exchange paintings. Spectators view this as a meeting between the masters of Eastern and Western art.

1957 – He successfully passes off his painting as a 10th century original.

1960s – He settles in Carmel, California.

1967 – His first solo exhibition at Stanford University is met with a crowd of one thousand people.

1970s – He mentors Minol Araki.

1978 – He settles in Taipei, Taiwan.

1983 – He dies on April 2nd in Taipei, Taiwan.

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“Chang Dai-chien’s forgery of Guan Tong’s “Drinking and singing at the foot of a precipitous mountain” created between 1910 and 1957. Formerly attributed to Guan Tong, Chinese, 10th century. Ink and colours on silk. 218.2 x 90.2 cm.”

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[1] –

[2] – Lum, Kwong, and Jia Chen. “The Recovery of the Tang Dynasty Painting: Master Wang Wei’s Ink-Wash Creation ‘On the Wangchuan River.’” International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society, vol. 11, no. 3, 1998, pp. 439–449. JSTOR, Accessed 1 Apr. 2020.


[4] – Sturman, Peter. Artibus Asiae, vol. 60, no. 1, 2000, pp. 189–191. JSTOR, Accessed 1 Apr. 2020.

[5] – “New Asian Art: A Synthesis of East and West.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, vol. 58, no. 3, 2001, pp. 38–47. JSTOR, Accessed 1 Apr. 2020.

[6] – Hay, Jonathan. “Editorial: The Value of Forgery.” RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, no. 53/54, 2008, pp. 5–19. JSTOR, Accessed 1 Apr. 2020.

[7] – Larsen, Ingrid. The Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 71, no. 3, 2012, pp. 776–778. JSTOR, Accessed 1 Apr. 2020.

[8] – Watson, William. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, vol. 3, no. 1, 1993, pp. 171–173. JSTOR, Accessed 1 Apr. 2020.

[9] – DI YIN LU. “On a Shoestring: Small-Time Entrepreneurs and the International Market for Chinese Curios, 1921-1949.” Archives of Asian Art, vol. 63, no. 1, 2013, pp. 87–102. JSTOR, Accessed 1 Apr. 2020.

[10] – Laing, Ellen Johnston. “‘Suzhou Pian’ and Other Dubious Paintings in the Received ‘Oeuvre’ of Qiu Ying.” Artibus Asiae, vol. 59, no. 3/4, 2000, pp. 265–295. JSTOR, Accessed 1 Apr. 2020.

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