Dynasties’ delights on display
The exhibition at the Long Museum’s West Bund space in Shanghai has received rave reviews. reports.
Art auctions so far this year have generated several high prices for artworks from the Song (960-1279) and Yuan (1271-1368) dynasties, including Yuan officialpainter Ren Renfa’s color work Five Drunken Kings on Horses that grossed 303.6 million yuan ($44 million) on Dec 4.
Intense bidding in salerooms indicate greater interest by private collectors, as they have become more knowledgeable about the two empires’ cultural depth in recent years.
The Diligence and Intelligence exhibition at the Long Museum’s West Bund space in Shanghai has garnered great reviews for its presentation of Song and Yuan art.
Song and Yuan artworks represent the epitome of ancient Chinese views on nature and the universe because they evoke elegant simplicity and majestic splendor.
As the works are very rare they are coveted by serious collectors of classical Chinese art. It is also very rare to see dozens of such fine examples of art in private hands at one exhibition.
The show presents more than 80 paintings, calligraphic pieces and ancient books.
The Long Museum, founded by self-made billionaire-turned-collector Liu Yiqian and Wang Wei, now operates from three locations — two in Shanghai and one in Chongqing. It houses their cultural assets, spanning from antiques to contemporary art pieces.
Wang, who runs the museum cluster, says half of the exhibited works at the show are from their collection, while the rest are on loan from some 20 collectors, both from home and abroad.
Xie Xiaodong, who co-curated the exhibition along with Beijingbased ink artist Hao Liang, says the collectors shared the most iconic pieces, many of which are of museum quality.
Xie says some of the collectors have amassed their cultural assets partly through public auctions. Their pieces account for a bulk of quality Song and Yuan pieces that have been auctioned at home and international sales.
Other exhibits are family trea- sures that have been passed down for generations and have never come onto the open market, he says.
“Therefore, the exhibition offers a glimpse of the quantity and quality of Song and Yuan artworks in private hands,” he says.
“It provides rich examples for both ordinary viewers and scholars ZhenqinTu who can deepen their knowledge of the aesthetic traditions that have evolved since the Song period.”
The works on display include Jushi Tie, a letter by Song politician and scholar Zeng Gong. It fetched 207 million yuan at a Beijing auction in May.
The calligraphy piece of 124 characters is the fourth costliest work of traditional Chinese art sold so far this year. Its buyer was Chinese media mogul Wang Zhongjun, a partner in a Shanghai art auction house that plans to hold its inaugural sale on Dec 22.
The exhibition also features works that represent the efforts of Chinese collectors to bring home art from abroad, such as Xiesheng Zhen- If you go
Lin Qi 10 am-6 pm, closed on Mondays, through March 31, 2017. Long Museum (West Bund), 3398 Longteng Avenue, Xuhui district, Shanghai. 021-6422-7636.
qin Tu (a painting scroll of precious birds) by Zhao Ji, or Emperor Huizong of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). He was also an acclaimed artist and avid sponsor of art.
The painting, which was once part of a collection in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), was taken out of the Forbidden City and passed through several hands until finally landing in a private Japanese collection.
It was sold for 25.3 million yuan at a Beijing auction in 2002 — then a record for any Chinese work of art, to the Belgian couple Myriam and Guy Ullens.
They sold the painting seven years later in Beijing when it was acquired by Liu Yiqian for 61.7 million yuan after a 45-minute bidding war.
Also on display is Gong Fu Tie, a calligraphy scroll by Song scholar and literati Su Shi (1037-1101). Liu bought the scroll for $8.2 million at a New York auction in 2013.
The purchase, however, sparked a controversy back home as three researchers from the Shanghai Museum said that it was a 19th-century forgery.
Hao, the co-curator of the exhibition, says the organizers put aside the debate over the authenticity of the works, and focused on the collector’s enthusiasm for traditional culture.
Xie says Song and Yuan art are seen as pearls in a crown, and adds that these days collectors are serious about what they collect.
“They seek professionals for advice on cultivating a discerning taste when it comes to art and building up a hierarchical collection. They rely on strict standards so that they collect the best works,” he says.
“Their devotion to safeguarding cultural heritage should be encouraged.”
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Top: A work by Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) painter Ma Yuan. Above: A piece from Xiesheng Emperor Huizong of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). (a painting scroll of precious birds) by Zhao Ji, or