IM­PER­FECT PIC­TURE

Ger­man artist Anselm Kiefer protests over the hold­ing of his first show in China— and the or­ga­niz­ers say they are within their rights to do so, Deng Zhangyu re­ports.

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE | CULTURE - Con­tact the writer at dengzhangyu@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

Anselm Kiefer in China.

The show, which is be­ing held at the art mu­seum of the academy, dis­plays more than 80 pieces by Kiefer, a lead­ing fig­ure in Ger­man neo-ex­pres­sion­ism move­ment since the 1960s, cov­er­ing sculp­tures, paint­ings, in­stal­la­tions and photos.

In the last few days, a heated de­bate sur­faced on Chi­nese so­cial media about eth­i­cal and le­gal as­pects of the show, which is not only a solo ex­hi­bi­tion but that of a prom­i­nent liv­ing artist whose agree­ment wasn’t forth­com­ing.

Four days be­fore the show’s open­ing, China Daily re­ceived an email from Kiefer who said he was writ­ing in re­sponse to an ear­lier re­port in the pa­per on the show’s open­ing.

He said the show was be­ing held “with­out his in­volve­ment and con­sent”.

“Through­out my ca­reer I have been heav­ily in­volved in all my ma­jor in­ter­na­tional ex­hi­bi­tions. It is a mat­ter of deep re­gret and frus­tra­tion that the or­ga­niz­ers ofmy first show in China have seen fit to ex­clude­me­from this process,” Kiefer, 71, wrote in the email, adding that he wanted the ex­hi­bi­tion can­celed.

On Thurs­day, he also is­sued an of­fi­cial media state­ment about his po­si­tionon­theshow that went vi­ral.

The show in­volves sev­eral or­ga­niz­ers, in­clud­ing Ger­many’s Bell Art Cen­ter and the Cen­tral Academy of Fine Arts.

Li Ji­ayi, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Bell Art Cen­ter in China, told China Daily that Kiefer’s works on show are from both pri­vate col­lec­tors and art in­sti­tu­tions, which have autho­rized them to show the works in China. The MAP col­lec­tion and Lud­wig Mu­seum Koblenz in Ger­many pro­vided the pieces.

“The show le­gal,” Li said.

The ex­hi­bi­tion only shows the Ger­man artist to Chi­nese au­di­ences and does not in­volve sales, she added.

A spe­cial ticket for the show was 60 yuan ($8) in con­trast with a gen­eral ticket of 10 yuan on Satur­day, when long lines of peo­ple waited out­side the mu­seum be­fore the open­ing.

Li said it took them two years to pre­pare the show and that they had in­formed Kiefer and his stu­dio about it.

“We in­vested heav­ily to bring the show to China,” Li said.

But she re­fused to talk about the amount of money they spent on it.

In his email to China Daily, Kiefer said that he “wasn’t con­sulted about this planned ex­hi­bi­tion ofmy work in China”. is com­pletely

Wang Huang­sheng, di­rec­tor of the art mu­seum at the Cen­tral Academy of Fine Arts, said it’s not easy to hold a show of Kiefer, be­cause his works are usu­ally large. For ex­am­ple, the largest work for the Bei­jing show is about half a ton in weight and up to 5 me­ters in height.

The mu­seum is­sued a state­ment on Fri­day in re­sponse to Kiefer’s gen­eral media state­ment. It said the show com­plied with the law and was autho­rized by both in­di­vid­ual and in­sti­tu­tional col­lec­tors as the Ger­man co-or­ga­nizer said. The state­ment said it chose to stage the show be­cause of re­spect for the artist and also with the aim of bring­ing an im­por­tant show to the academy.

Fan Di’an, pres­i­dent of the Cen­tral Academy of Fine Arts, told a media con­fer­ence in Oc­to­ber that he had long been ea­ger to in­tro­duce Kiefer’s works in China and wrote emails to the artist once the academy’s art mu­seum de­cided to stage the show.

The show’s venue also changed a few­times. Bai­ji­ahu Art Mu­seum in Nan­jing was pre­vi­ously ex­pected to be the first stop of the tour­ing show. It wasn’t un­til sev­eral months ago that the art mu­seum at the Cen­tral Academy of Fine Arts signed up with the Bell Art Cen­ter to hold the first show in Bei­jing.

Wang Jun, a se­nior part­ner with the Yingke Law Firm, told Artron, a Bei­jing-based web­site on art news, that ac­cord­ing to China’s copy­right lawandGer­many’s copy­right law, an ex­hi­bi­tion right be­longs to the owner of the orig­i­nal copy (of an art­work).

But Kiefer didn’t elab­o­rate on the rea­sons be­hind his re­fusal to back the show.

Chi­nese artist Lin Tian­miao wrote on her WeChat ac­count that she once vis­ited Kiefer in­Paris and that he was “very se­ri­ous” about hold­ing his own solo show in China, and that he sent his wife to China to choose a venue.

Speak­ing of Kiefer’s protest, WangHuang­sheng called it “a pity”.

Kiefer isknown­for his large pieces in clay, lead, ash and dried plants. His work To the Un­known Pain­ter was sold for a record $3.6 mil­lion at Christie’s in­NewYork in 2011.

Af­ter Bei­jing, the show is sched­uled to tour Shang­hai and Guangzhou.

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