Yun Gee

Theme/Style – Modernism, Abstraction, figurative art, landscapes

Media – Oils

Artistic Focus – Though Yun Gee developed a Cezanne-inspired analytical approach to the use of color and composition in part based on his early training in color theory with Otis Oldfield, his finest paintings possess a poetic quality, and a lyrical voice that transcends ethnic boundaries. There is a strong sense of movement in his figures movement created with strokes of black, blue or red that originated in Chinese calligraphy.

Career Highlights –

• Born in Wing-on-Li near Canton, China, in 1906, Yun Gee received his early art education from the Chinese master Chu in 1918 and 1919.
• Gee came to San Francisco in 1921 to attend the California School of Fine Arts, where he studied under Otis Oldfield and Gottardo Piazzoni.
• Gee and Oldfield were among the founders of the Modern Gallery near San Francisco’s Chinatown in 1926. In that same year, Gee burned all of his academic paintings in a gesture of support for the Modernist movement. As a result, none of this early work remains; but, given his prolific output during his twenties and early thirties, a large body of Gee’s work is extant today.
• A study trip to Paris in 1927 introduced Yun Gee to European Modernism; and while in Paris, he developed the style that he called "Diamondism," which depicts fragmented forms and figures in small facets of vivid color. His style was in part based on Otis Oldfield’s color block theory.
• Gee returned to San Francisco in 1928, after which he and Oldfield made a sketching trip to the Mother Lode country north of the city.
• An artist who was highly receptive to new environments, and quickly able to absorb new techniques and incorporate new styles, Gee found himself outside the artistic mainstream during the Depression, when his work was shunned as a sense of national and regional isolationism took hold.
• Yun Gee left California in 1929, and for the remainder of his life divided his time between New York City and Paris.
• Although the war years fostered a new energy in his work, Gee eventually lost his characteristic ability to synthesize Asian and Western influences, and his career ended with a nervous breakdown suffered in 1945, nearly two decades before his death.
• Yun Gee passed away in New York City in 1963.