Ma Ch'uan's paintings are known for her bold approach with the brush. She was fond of monochrome prefering
grey and black. Her last request was to be buried in a coffin with ink sticks.
Her lyrics of love and adventure are filled with drama, and magnificent climaxes.
The 'Lais', her most important work, comprise 14 romantic narratives based on Celtic material.
A landmark in French literature, they influenced a number of later writers.
After her husband's death she became a temple poet and was persecuted because
of her betrayal of caste in caring for the poor.
She worked first as a commercial artist but soon created her own original style. She visited Europe, Asia and the Pacific Islands settling eventually in Mexico.
She is best known for her precisely painted,
heavily symbolic studies, of flowers, of animals, and of the Mexican desert which are haunting
and mysteriously powerful. Among the greatest contemporary American artists,
she had several retrospective exhibitions after 1963.