Born in Sichang, Chang Yu studied at the Shanghai Fine Arts School in 1917. In 1920, he moved to Paris, where he lived until his death at the age of 67. An eccentric in the circle of Chinese ex-pat artists, painting was for Chang a medium to release his emotions. Although accomplished (to which his reputation overseas as one of the foremost Chinese artists attests), he did not enjoy playing the game. His style is based in Chinese artistic traditions, being direct and fluid and it carved a unique path among the various styles prevalent in Paris at that time.