Zao Wou-Ki's 'Voie Lactée' hitting the auction block this fall

The large-format canvas will be offered during Christie's upcoming 20th Century & Contemporary Art evening sale in Shanghai.

"Voie Lactée - 09.11.1956" is an example of Zao Wou-Ki's "oracle bone" period, which marked a turning point in the Chinese-French artist's career.

This period is characterized by a return to his cultural roots as Wou-Ki started to incorporate ancient Chinese hieroglyphic scripts found on oracle bones and bronzeware into his artworks.

Rather than simply depicting these written characters, Wou-Ki created unique inscriptions and symbols of his own.

By the late 1950s, he was titling his works with the date of their completion to avoid assigning them to visual association, completely abandoning figurative painting.

"Voie Lactée - 09.11.1956," which depicts a vast flow of stars across the skies of the Milky Way, draws inspiration from the ancient Star Map from the Tang dynasty.

According to specialist publication Penta, the abstract piece is expected to fetch between RMB38 million and 68 million (US$5.4 million and 9.6 million).

Since his passing in 2013, there has been a growing demand for Wou-Ki's works, which have consistently sold for six figures at past auctions.

His "Juin-Octobre 1985" achieved a groundbreaking HK$510 million (around US$65 million) in September 2018 at Sotheby's in Hong Kong, setting a new world auction record for an Asian artist.

"Voie Lactée - 09.11.1956" will be offered on September 21 during Christie's 20th Century & Contemporary Art evening sale in Shanghai.

Ahead of the sale, the auction house will be holding its Asian Art Week from September 6 to 13 in New York. This season presents nine auctions, featuring over 1,000 lots spanning all epochs and categories of Asian art.