Fri, Oct 01, 2010 - Page 2 News List

Famed painting by Chang Dai-chien to go on public display

ACCESS:‘Ancient Cypress Trees’ hung in the Control Yuan for 40 years, but now will be displayed on the third floor of the National Museum of History

Staff writer, with CNA

The National Museum of History said it would display a work by well-known Chinese painter Chang Dai-chien (張大千) next month, entitled Ancient Cypress Trees.

The museum said yesterday that the painting was valued at more than NT$100 million (US$3.1 million). It depicts a grove of cypresses.

The painting hung in a corner of a conference room at the Control Yuan for almost 40 years, but Control Yuan President Wang Chien-shien decided in July to donate it to the museum to provide a better environment and allow more people to view it.

The decision came after another painting by Chang sold for more than NT$100 million at a recent auction. That made the Control Yuan realize it should find a safer home for the painting.

Chang was born in Sichuan, China, and died in Taiwan in 1983 at the age of 85.

He is considered one of the best Chinese artists of the 20th century. Chang started out painting Chinese landscapes, but by the 1960s, was also renowned as a modern impressionist and expressionist painter.

Museum officials said they used Chang’s own preference when deciding where to display the painting.

“We chose the third floor, because it was the artist’s favorite location for painting when he was alive,” a museum curator said.

Chang loved to paint the lotuses in the pond near the museum.

Ancient Cypress Trees was painted when Chang lived at his Bade Garden (Garden of Eight Virtues) home in Mogi das Cruzes, Brazil, the museum said.

Large in scale, with a somber composition and sublime aspiration, the piece attests to a period in Chang’s creative life in which he invented the splash color technique and further utilized it to depict flowers, rocks, and trees, experts say.

“Viewers cannot but be amazed by Chang’s blending of the traditional and the contemporary as well as his idiosyncratic invention of artistic vocabulary,” the curator said.

Chang’s two-story home in Shihlin — which he called the “Abode of Maya” — was donated to the nearby National Palace Museum after his death and has been preserved as a memorial to the artist and his work. Tours can be arrange through the palace musuem.

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