Lévy Gorvy is pleased to present the first exhibition ever to pair the abstract landscapes of Chinese-French master Zao Wou-Ki (1920-2013) and Dutch-born American titan Willem de Kooning (1904-1997). With the full support of the Willem de Kooning Foundation and the Foundation Zao Wou-Ki.
Although contemporaries, the two postwar masters of painting never met, and the exhibition at Lévy Gorvy marks the first time their work will be presented together. With a selection of over twenty paintings spanning from the late 1940s through the early 1980s, ‘Willem de Kooning | Zao Wou-Ki’ intends to bridge an East-West dialogue, placing the two artists in conversation by means of their work. De Kooning’s Sail Cloth and Zao’sUntitled, both created in 1949, open the exhibition and indelibly illuminate ways in which issues of surface, representation, depth, and coloration would similarly preoccupy both artists throughout their careers. Seminal large-scale canvases – including such key museum loans as Zao’s Montagne déchirée (1955 – 56) from the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, and de Kooning’s Untitled (1962) from the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C. – will be on view. And side-by-side juxtapositions will reveal striking affinities between the two artists, suggesting heretofore unrecognized connections between the ways in which de Kooning and Zao addressed composition and motif to achieve breakthroughs that remain relevant to contemporary painting.
Listen to the entire poetry reading organized by Sylvia Gorelick at the Levy Gorvy Gallery on the Upper East Side. Original poems by Cole Swenson and Diane Ward, as well as a chronology contextualizing the two painters in the rich goings-on in China, Paris, and America at the time, constructed by Melissa Ward.
Photos by Savona Bailey-McClain