Lot 287 of 364:
San Francisco Chinese-American artist in Hemingway’s Paris  

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Lot closed - unsold
$300 - $500

Le Voyageur de Nuit, ‘Illustrations de Yun Gee, Peintre Chinois' - only known book illustration by Chinese-American modernist artist


Dijon, France

Les Editions du Monde Moderne, Paris

June 1930


247 pages. French text. Illustrated with two full page color plates by Yung Gee. (12mo), original wrappers printed in red and black. Limited Edition, #1134 of 1420 copies (another 80 were printed on special paper).  

This  book published in France just before the 24 year-old Chinese-Americana émigré artist returned to America after three years in Paris, was possibly his first and only effort at book illustration. He was considered one of the most important Chinese-American modernist artists of his day; the two color plates in the book reflect Cubist influence.

Described in a recent biography as a political revolutionary, cultural radical, social visionary, teacher, inventor and poet, Yun Gee came to San Francisco from China as a teenager, soon establishing himself as “one of the city’s most daring avant-garde painters”. In 1927, at age 21, he emigrated to Paris to work among the “Salon Cubists”. About the time this book was published in France, he returned to America, eventually settling in New York - where his career took a downward spiral.

Reportedly diagnosed with mental illness, his later years, when he called himself “a modern Leonardo”, were marked by eccentricity. In a future auction, we will be offering his published 1949 essay on a “Lunar Tube to the Moon” and a bizarre game board he “invented”, claiming to have solved “the problem of Fourth Dimension Chess and Checkers” which had eluded “great thinkers throughout the ages”.

All-but-forgotten by the time of his death in 1963, with the recent rebirth of interest in Chinese-American modern art, Yun Gee’s work has been resurrected. Two years ago, one of his paintings brought $35,000 at auction in New York, while another sold in Taiwan for nearly $400,000. This rare volume would be a worthy acquisition for the connoisseur of Asian art.

Lot Amendments

Dampstain to spine; some foxing; otherwise very good.

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