New York, NY
An artist and poet known for his colorful, almost fluorescent paintings and graphic art, Walasse Ting was born in China and after working in Hong Kong and Paris came to New York and became a naturalized American citizen. While his art was widely collected by museums in Europe and the United States, he is perhaps best known for his poetry, particularly 1¢ Life (1964), an artist’s book of 62 lithographs by 28 artists who responded to poems written by Ting, and Red Mouth (1977), a book of poetry containing reproductions of 461 works of art. He ultimately was the author of thirteen books. Ting (whose given name was Ding Xiong Quan) was born in 1929, probably in Shanghai although some sources give his birthplace as nearby Wuxi, China. He studied for a brief time at the Shanghai Art Academy but is largely self-taught. He immigrated to Hong Kong in 1946. In 1952 he want to Paris, where he associated with Pierre Alechinsky (b. 1927), who would become a live-long friend, Karel Appel (1921-2006) and Asger Jorn (1914-1973), all members of the short-lived but influential group of avant-garde artists and writers known as CoBrA (after their home cities of Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam). He did not make a living selling art and supported himself with odd jobs. Arriving in New York in 1957, he met became friends with the abstract Expressionist artist Sam Francis (1923-1994). Ting’s art of this period was primarily abstract, while very colorful. Already a published poet, he collaborated with Francis on 1¢ Life, who served as editor. A ground-breaking book of color lithographs, the book brought Francis and other Abstract Expressionists like Joan Mitchell (1925-1992) together with Pop artists Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997) and Andy Warhol (1928-1987) and former CoBrA artists Appel and Jorn. Ting found a better market for his art in New York and received regular one-man exhibitions in New York and Europe. One source records he had more than sixty solo exhibitions in various locations. He married Natalie Lipton, with whom he had two children. In 1970 he received a Guggenheim Fellowship for Drawing. During the 1970s his stile became more figurative, depicting sensual nudes, geishas, animals and birds. He also taught himself sculpture. Ting bought a studio in Amsterdam, and worked there from 1988, while frequently returning to New York. Examples of his work are in the collections of the Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Tate Modern, London, the Centre Pompidou, Paris and the Art Institute of Chicago. Ting suffered a brain hemorrhage in 2002 and could no longer work. After living in a medical institute in Holland, he was transferred to New York in 2010 and died a few weeks later. (TNB 1/2014) Selected bibliography: Bénézit, Emmanuel. Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs. Vol. 13, pp. 655-656. Paris: Gründ, 1999. Naylor, Colin, ed. Contemporary Artists. “Walasse Ting,” p. 959. London: St. James Press; New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1977.