Walasse Ting (1928-2010): Le Voleur de Fleurs , Musée Cernuschi

Walasse ting Sans titre (Femme au perroquet), 1980 Archives Pierre Alechinsky © The Estate of Walasse Ting/ADAGP, 2016/Photo Michel Nguyen
Walasse Ting, Sans titre (Femme au perroquet), 1980, Archives Pierre Alechinsky
© The Estate of Walasse Ting/ADAGP, 2016/Photo Michel Nguyen

Version Française  – Musée Cernuschi’s exhibit of Walasse Ting presents a kaleidoscopic display of the artist’s creative evolution, tracing his Chinese roots to his experiences abroad. Each room introduces a new element of his artistic vocabulary, the layers accumulating until the end of the visit, when a seamless synthesis of his work is finally achieved. From black and white to evocative reds and blues, treat your eyes to the visual language that is Ting’s art.


1 year old first time sing song

5 years old first time draw dragonfly

6 years old first time smell flower

16 years old first time falling in love

Walasse Ting, 1967 Photographie John Lefebre © Marion Lefebre
Walasse Ting, 1967,Photographie John Lefebre © Marion Lefebre

Ting grew up in Wuxi, a city near Shanghai, China, that exposed him to both rural and cosmopolitan settings and cultivated the beginnings of his versatile craft. Upon entering the exhibit, we view two pieces from his premiere show in China and grasp the first thread of Ting’s artistic background. The paintings are spun by elegant calligraphic brushstrokes, unveiling his roots in traditional Chinese art. These visuals are paired with the first part of a poem written by Ting entitled, Walasse Ting. Composed of brief lines revealing a “first” from each year of his life, the text accents the reservoir of experiences that breeds this multifaceted body of work.

18 years old first time leave China

19 years old first time sold water-colour

21 years old first time one man show

22 years old first time take big boat to paris

Calligraphic work by Ting @TessHolland
Calligraphic work by Ting @TessHolland

With his career progressing, he embraces a twin identity known as the “great flower thief,” a creative persona that represents his cultural crossroads and artistic malleability. Working in this vein, Ting produces pieces inspired by expressionism and action painting while maintaining the non-figurative forms and color palette of his calligraphic roots. His 1957 painting Black Spider and White Snake, illustrates this creative marriage, activating our eyes by the creatures’ movement through a neutral palette of thick paints. The image literally lifts from the canvas’ surface, depicting a common Chinese subject through the energetic techniques of expressionism, reminiscent of Pollock.

 28 years old first time not believe in anything

29 years old first time write poem

30 years old first time come to America

One Cent Life Jaquette de couverture © Matchteld Appel/ Photo Frédéric Charron
One Cent Life,Jaquette de couverture
© Matchteld Appel/ Photo Frédéric

Between 1950-1960, Ting travels between Europe and the United States, collaborating with artists of the CoBrA Movement with the purpose of creative experimentation. He envisions himself working with these artists to create a fluid body of work, and the result: One Cent Life, a collective that features work from 27 artists, melding text, pop art, and abstract expressionism. Ting contributes poetry to this project, which his contemporary Pierre Alechinsky, labels as, “jam session painting.” Moreover, the assemblage of work captures the aesthetic of the time, expressing the vitality and volume that pervaded the art scene internationally, with Ting acting as its creative source. Joan Mitchell, Roy Lichenstein, and Andy Warhol are just a few others whose work is incorporated in this project.

32 years old first time eat hot dog

37 years old first time have daughter

38 years old first time buy color television 

One Cent Life @TessHolland
One Cent Life @TessHolland

Towards the end of the 1950s, Ting embraces the theme of erotic femininity, crafting a series of evocative nudes in saturated pastels. During this time, we witness Ting reimagining a prototypical subject matter and supplying it with an innovative edge. We visualise Ingre’s Grand Odalisque and Manet’s Olympia exiting their golden frames and sinking into Ting’s canvases, adopting their evolved forms as modern nudes. Transforming the female body into patches of vibrant color, Ting also echoes the work of fauvist artists, adding another coating to his creative breadth.

44 years old first time see father sleep inside coffin

45 years old firs time become U.S. citizen

46 year old first time smell money like bullshit

Pastel nudes @TessHolland
Pastel nudes @TessHolland


Galleries of colourful paintings are wedged between rooms of black and white, highlighting the versatility of the artist and his allegiance to his Chinese roots. He continues to make calligraphic art throughout the entirety of his career, manipulating traditional materials and subject matter through his own modern lens.

48 years old first time know life is round

51 years old first time bought a letter by Gaugin

55 years old first time rainbow for breakfast

Calligraphic work by Ting @TessHolland
Calligraphic continuation by Ting @TessHolland

The final gallery of the exhibit is my personal favorite, as it showcases the peak of Ting’s career, during which the threads of his artistic identity entwine into an exquisite whole. These pieces serve as a vessel of pluralistic influences that merge with Ting’s own inventive touch, engendering a style uniquely his.

The final space pairs monochrome and multicoloured works, both types arresting the viewer with their elegant subjects and active marks. We enter a whirlwind of florals, birds, and delicate women, Ting’s compositions radiating sophistication and finesse.

64 years old first time feel death

65 years old first time see sun rising

66 years old first time breathe fresh air


As we part with Ting’s collection of diverse works, we are accompanied by a profound sense of wonder, struck by the scope of his artistic skill and the vivid style that is simply, Ting.

Walasse Ting Raindrops on my eyes 1974, © The Estate of WalasseTing/ADAGP,2016/Photo John Sturges
Walasse Ting, Raindrops on my eyes,1974,
© The Estate of WalasseTing/ADAGP,2016/Photo John Sturges

You have until the end of February to view Ting’s collection housed by Musée Cernushci, an impressive building in Paris’ 8th arrondissement. After exploring the rest of the museum’s collection of Asian art, wander through the neighbouring Parc Monceau, a quaint setting that will extend your day’s aesthetic indulgence even further.

67 years old first time fishing in sea

68 years old first time paint a whale

69 years old first time buy a white buddha

70 years old first time buy 2 shooting stars…

Tess Holland -Wesleyan University 2018, Vassar-Wesleyan Program in Paris Fall 2016

Ting Walasse

Le Voleur de Fleurs

Musée Cernuschi

Until 26 February 2017




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