Gu graduated with a master’s degree in Chinese Painting from the Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou, studying under Lu Yanshao. In the 1980's, Gu Wenda, who was trained in Chinese calligraphy, became deeply influenced by Western philosophy and expressed his interest in Nietzsche and Surrealism on multiple occasions. He moved to the United States after the new wave movement in 1985. This decision allowed him to unite his experiences in China with his Western imagination and to form his independent visual language.