Born in Tianjin, China in 1946, Wang Gongyi joined the Tianjin People’s Fine Arts Publishing House as an editor after the Cultural Revolution. In 1978, she pursued her master's degree in Printmaking at the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts (now the China Academy of Fine Arts), and after graduating in 1980 she stayed at the academy as a teacher. In 1986, Wang Gongyi was invited by the French Ministry of Culture to study art in France. After her residencies at the Museum of Oregon State University and the Pacific Northwest College of Art, she relocated to the United States in 2001 and has since been based in Portland.
In the early 1980s, Wang Gongyi gained wide recognition in China after being awarded first prize in the second National Youth Fine Art Exhibition for her powerful suite of seven woodcuts devoted to the Chinese feminist and revolutionary martyr Qiu Jin, this work called for social reforms and represented the passion of a new generation. It has become an important work in the historical narrative of contemporary Chinese art. (View the Qiu Jin Prints in the Ashmolean Museum Collection)
Wang Gongyi’s works are in many important institutions and collections internationally, including: Ashmolean Museum, UK; China Academy of Art; M+ Museum, Hong Kong; Portland Art Museum, US; The National People’s Congress, China; The National Art Museum of China; Shanghai Art Museum, China; USC Pacific Asia Museum, US; and Zhejiang Art Museum, China, among others. In 2022, Wang Gongyi's works are being featured in Centre Pompidou's "Women Artists of the 20th Century" program.