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S. C. Yuan Biography

Born in Hangchow, China, Yuan displayed a keen interest in art at an early age, and studied drawing while in high school.  He attended the Fine Arts Academy of the Central University in Nanking, where he studied with Xu Beihong, a strong proponent of Western art, whose paintings are greatly prized today, selling in the hundreds of thousands of dollars at major international auctions.  Under Xu Beihong, Yuan received extensive training in the French academic manner of painting.  In 1949, with the Communists taking control of China, Yuan moved to Jamaica and then San Francisco for short periods, finally settling on the Monterey Peninsula in 1953 to join his brother who was already in the area teaching Mandarin Chinese at what is now the Defense Language Institute.  Yuan’s paintings were exhibited locally and throughout California, winning many awards and widely admired for their mixture of Asian and European influences.  His work was sold locally at the Carmel Art Association as well as several fine art galleries in Carmel and the Bay Area.  At various times Yuan also sold his work through his own galleries, studio and restaurants.  Yuan greatly admired the paintings of local national academician Armin Hansen, and his influence is clearly seen in Yuan’s work.  Yuan also made several trips to Europe, absorbing the masterpieces in the great museums of western art.  He carried a camera and recorded scenes of street life across Europe, which he would later develop into paintings in his Carmel studio.  Locally, Yuan painted scenes around the Monterey Peninsula as well as floral and figurative subjects.  Tragically, Yuan had undiagnosed suicidal tendencies, and according to relatives and longtime friends became despondent after his wife filed for divorce, finally taking his own life in 1974.  Always greatly admired by artists for the wonderful gray color harmonies and confidence in his work, the market for Yuan’s paintings soared after a successful 20 year retrospective at the Carmel Art Association in 1994.  There is a companion book titled “S. C. Yuan” published by the Carmel Art Association that is still in print.  Today, Yuan’s work is gaining national and international recognition as the best paintings of that period on the Monterey Peninsula.