Born in Wuxi, China in 1929, but raised in Shanghai, Walasse Ting was a painter, sculptor, graphic artist, and poet who began his life as an artist at a very young age. Walasse briefly attended the Shanghai Art Academy, but always considered himself to be self-taught, learning to draw with chalk on the street at a young age. In 1952 he immigrated to Paris, where he lived as a struggling artist but became associated with artists Karel Appel, Asger Jorn, and Pierre Alechinsky, members of the avant-garde group called COBRA.
At Garden Bridge, Shanghai, 1950 (left) and in Venice, 1957 (right)
Ting arrived in New York in 1958 at the height of the Abstract Expressionist period. He befriended the American artist Sam Francis, and the movement had a profound influence on his work. Together they worked to publish 1 Cent Life (1964), a book of Walasse's poetry illustrated by artists Karel Appel, Jim Dine, Andy Warhol, and Francis, among others. Bold dripping strokes featured prominently in his paintings, which at the time were mainly poetic abstractions in the manner of the Paris-based Chinese artist, Zao Wouki. In the 1970s Ting developed his now distinctive style using Chinese calligraphic brushstrokes to define outlines and filling flat areas of colour with vivid acrylic paint.
Cover of 1 Cent Life, Published 1964 (left); Ting at Garden Bridge, Shanghai, 1988 (right)
Walasse was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship Award for drawing in 1970. His works can be found in many museum collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim, the Tate Modern, Centre Pompidou, the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the Silkeborg Museum, Denmark; the Museum of Hong Kong; the Chicago Art Institute; and the Musee Cernuschi, Paris.
Since 2001, Ting had been settled in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. In 2010, he died at the age of 81 in New York.