Skip to content


WU Zuoren

(China 1908 – 1997)

The great desert
Other titles:
Damo - great desert
Camels in the Gobi Desert
Damo (The great desert)
Place of origin
Media category
Materials used
hanging scroll; ink on paper

69.8 x 45.7 cm image; 159.5 x 60.3 x 69.7 cm scroll

Signature & date
Signed and dated u.r., in Chinese, inscribed in black ink, “Zuoren…in 1977”. Signed u.r., in Chinese, stamped in red ink “Wu” [artist's seal].
Gift of Graham E. Fraser 1993
Accession number
Not on display
Further information

‘The work of Wu Zuoren exemplifies the way in which the traditional brush-and-ink technique of Chinese painting can be transformed into an entirely modern idiom. Wu studied with another of the great modern masters of Chinese painting, Xu Beihong, and then from 1930 to 1935 he studied and worked in France and Belgium. His distinctive use of broad wet brushstrokes in the ‘mogu hua’, or ‘boneless’ style, that is one worked in brush washes of ink rather than brush lines, hints at the Western styles that he would have absorbed while in Europe, like his mentor Xu Beihong. Wu is particularly renowned for his appealing images of camels, yaks, oxen and pandas and for his evocations of the Gobi desert.’

‘The Asian Collections: Art Gallery of New South Wales’. pg.171
© 2003 Trustees, Art Gallery of New South Wales

Bibliography (5)

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Asian Collection: East Asia', pg. 246-287, Sydney, 1999, 263 (colour illus.).

Jackie Menzies, Art of the Brush - Chinese & Japanese painting calligraphy, Sydney, 1995, 14, 15 (illus.).

Jackie Menzies, Contemporary Chinese Painting, Sydney, 1985, cat no 25.

Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'The Shanghai School and Modern Painting', Sydney, 2003, 171 (colour illus.).

Jackie Menzies, Contemporary Chinese Painting, 'Wu Zuoren', Sydney, 1985, 14 (illus.).

Exhibition history (2)

Great gifts, great patrons, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 17 Aug 1994–19 Oct 1994

Art of the brush, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 23 Sep 1995–12 Nov 1995