Zao Wou-Ki, 13.01.76, 1976, oil on canvas, 59 by 63¾ inches. Image courtesy of the Asia Society.
Chinese-born painter Zao Wou-Ki (1920–2013) had a long and successful career. But his story presents a classic example of an artist who established an international reputation early on but over time came to be taken for granted, if not nearly forgotten. However, in the wake of the wave of Chinese artists (such as Cai Guo-Qiang, Zhang Huan, and Ai Weiwei) who came to prominence in the West in the 1990s, Zao’s merging of Eastern and Western elements in his painting now seems prescient; and in recent years his reputation has been dramatically elevated by critics, curators, artists, and art historians.