Chang Dai-Chien was a native of Nei-Chiang, Sichuan.  His original given name Chuan was later changed to Yuan, while his childhood name Chi was later incorporated into his studio name Chi-yuan.  At the age of 21 he studied under Tseng Hsi and Li Jui-Ching.  Taking Shih Tao and Pa-ta Shan-jen as his starting point, he sought out as many paintings by famous artists of past centuries as he could to copy.  Beginning with an impressionistic style and progressing to meticulous brushwork, he developed the ability to move between these techniques with complete master.  In 1941 he traveled to Dun Huang where he spent two years and seven months copying wall paintings.  Here he studied traditional coloration and line drawing methods, being particularly moved by the grand scale and complex layout of the high Tang style.  The sumptuous splendor of high Tang art inspired him with the desire to create great art.

Besides copying from old masters, Chang Dai-Chien was also expert at painting from life.  In his later years, he combined splashed ink and splashed color with the masterly texture strokes and liberation of his early years to form a new synthesis.  Hovering between concrete and abstract, reveling in freedom and unpredictability, Chang Dai-Chien's work created a whole new style of modern Chinese painting.
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