Yun Gee, the unique Chinese-American artist who wanted to build an aluminum tunnel to the moon, died at his home at 51 E. 10th St. on June 5. He was 56 years old.
Mr. Gee came o this country from Canton, China, when he was 15. After studying at the California School of Fine Arts and exhibiting at San Francisco’s Modern Gallery, he went to France in 1926 on the invitation of the art patron Princess Achille Murat. In Paris, Mr. Gee was accepted as a promising young modern and met such leading eccentrics as Raymond Duncan.
The artists started in California as a cubist, but later went beyond this to a sort of fluid new cubism which embodied movement in triangles and squares. He taught for a time in New York in a tenement on Hester St.
His reputation as a painter was established through several one-man shows in Paris where he continued to live for extended periods.
In New York he held exhibitions at the Montross Gallery, Balzac Gallery, Milch Gallery, at the New School for Social Research, China House, and the Brooklyn Museum.
He is represented in many private and museum collections both here and abroad.
Although his work is modern and in the Western tradition, Mr. Gee often drew on Oriental themes, as in his paintings titled “Confucius,” “Laotzu,” and “Empress Yan Kwei Fei at the Bath.”
Mr. Gee, although a Christian, was a student of Confucianism, Buddhism, and other religious leaders. He had a number of extremely unusual theories about man and the universe, on them being that a man might be able to overcome gravity and fly like a bird.
He had a theory of painting called Diamondism, which had to do in part with the “supreme inside information about the subject reproduced.” Mr. Gee was also quite serious about his moon tunnel. It all ad to do with a 30-mile high aluminum barrel, bamboo ribbed canvas and warm air as a lifting agent.
Speaking of a retrospective exhibition of the artist’s work in December, 1962, The Villager’s Mabel MacDonald Carver said in part:
His many paintings of subjects related to the formal Christian religion, i.e. ‘Nativity,’ ‘Resurrection,’ ‘Last Supper,’ and ‘Band C,’ – the latter a commission for St. Peter’s Church, the Bronx – convey an understanding rater even for an Oriental who has embraced the Christian religion, which Yun Gee has done.
In direct and startling contrast are such metaphysical paintings as Taoist Butterflies I –or Dream, and the prophetic ‘War Dance,’ depicting Hitler and Hiroshima – said to have been painted long in advance of the tragedy surrounding these two names.
In 1956 Yun gee appeared on WRCA-TV and talked about his conception of fourth dimensional chess, which, he said, both Archimedes and Leonardo DaVinci had tried to develop and failed at.
In the artist’s chess conception, there would be four home areas, each made of half of a standard two-man board and a center area. Two, three, or four players could play, he said,
Mr. Gee is survived by a daughter, Li-lan.
Funeral services were last Saturday at Walter Cooke Funeral Home, and interment was at Ferncliffe Cemetery in Hartsdale, N.Y.