Chang Dai-Chen

Chang Dai-Chien

Exhibition: November 21, 2002 – February 18, 2003
Reception: November 21, 2002

Chang Dai-Chien (1899-1983) is considered to be one of the most versatile and prolific masters of traditional Chinese painting. He was a colorful figure who resembled an ancient Chinese sage. He had a full beard, a walking stick, and always dressed in a full-length robe.

In terms of versatility, he possessed a formidable ‘toolbox’ of skills and techniques. Chang was trained in painting using the traditional Chinese method of copying the best masterworks of the past. Due to his passion for rigorous training, he eventually mastered the best techniques of the past 1000 years of Chinese painting. In fact, he became so skilled at copying masterworks that few people could distinguish the original masterworks from his copies.

Chang Dai-Chien

In his original work, he had his own unique style, a successful synthesis of his own creativity and the styles of past and present Chinese painters. He was one of the few modern masters who truly mastered the 3 perfections of traditional Chinese painting:

  1. Brush Painting
  2. Calligraphy
  3. Poetry

He became world famous when he incorporated Western techniques in his later work. He used an abstract painting technique of splashing ink on his paintings and created a new ‘Splashed’ ink painting style. Western critics raved about how his new style liberated him from the traditions of China’s past and some even dismissed his more traditional Chinese paintings.

Chang Dai-Chien

Interestingly, his splashed ink painting still retained the classical qualities of traditional Chinese painting such as composition, calligraphy, seals, and even objects painted in the traditional manner. Wang Cha, a painter of the Tang dynasty also had a technique of splashing ink on paintings.

Chang painted 30,000 paintings in his lifetime. 5000 paintings still survive today.


Zhang, Daqian, ‘Zhang, Daqian,’ Taibei Shi : Zhonghua, 1976, page 127-129

Chang Dai-chien in California (Biography)

The Art and Life of Chang Dai-chien (Biography)

Philosophy on the art of painting

Interesting Links:

Chinese Chang Dai-Chien Web Site