An important exhibition in Guimet Museum Paris

An exceptional exhibition that reveals the immense talent of a great Chinese artist, contemporary of Zao Wou-Ki.

"Today, they are back in the spotlight, evoking the unique destiny of T'ang Haywen, a singular modern artist of the post-war period".

Through a selection of a hundred major works, the exhibition presents an overview of the major stages of T'ang Haywen career, as well as the essential aspects of the work of an artist who sought, in his own words, “an ideal painting, uniting the visible world and the world of thought.”

His early years in Paris are illustrated by some studies in watercolour and gouache, influenced by the painting of the great masters such as Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, or Paul Klee. His own style is asserted in his abstract and calligraphic landscapes of the 1960s, between vivid colours and monochromes. The period from the early 1970s up to around 1983-84 is evoked by gouache or ink paintings, either polychrome or monochrome. The 1970s saw the flourishing of his preferred format, the diptych.

Larger formats, presented in the exhibition, allow T’ang Haywen to showcase abstract landscapes in monochrome ink, while smaller formats, folded papers, diptychs, and triptychs from the years 1980-1985 demonstrate a full mastery of his gesture and his brush. These works express the dynamism and Taoist tension between fullness and emptiness, black and white, the visible world and the world of thought.

Never-before-seen creations and archival elements, which had been kept in the secrecy of his studio, lift the veil on the intimacy of this artist fundamentally in love with freedom and simplicity, reflecting his inclination for Eastern asceticism. An itinerant painter, T’ang Haywen favoured formats that were transportable in his drawing board. These original and touching works are shown to the public for the first time, such as postcards sent to his friends and acquaintances, painted ceramic tiles, remnants of a stay in San Francisco in 1965, small monochrome portraits, and pages from sketchbooks.

The exhibition presents a wide selection from the exceptional donation of 202 works and around 400 pieces of personal archive to the Guimet Museum, made by the Direction Nationale d’Interventions Domaniales in 2022*. The works donated to Guimet had been the object of art trafficking: seized by the State, they were selected in conjunction with the museum’s teams. They are now back in the spotlight, enabling us to evoke the unique destiny of T’ang Haywen, a singular post-war modern artist.

Read more

T'ang Haywen - A Chinese Painter in Paris (1927-1991)
Exhibition from 6 March to 17 June 2024
National Museum of Asian Arts – Guimet, Paris
6 place d’léna 75116 Paris, France


*D.N.I.D, Direction Nationale d'Interventions Domaniale, is known as « Les Domaines » in France.In fact, DNID is involved in the management of state property in a variety of ways. Sometimes, following a court case, property is seized by the courts and then entrusted to the DNID for auction. In this particular case, T’ang Haywen Archives was approached by DNID to appraise and authenticate a group of works, drawings and archives presented as being by T'ang Haywen. Once this expertise had been carried out, and given the importance of this collection, it was agreed with Alain Caumeil, Director of DNID, that a representative part of this group of works, together with all the drawings and archives, should be donated to the French national collections.

At the initiative of DNID, Valérie Zaleski, curator at the Guimet Museum, and Philippe Koutouzis, expert of the oeuvre, selected the works and inventoried the drawings and archives.