Academy and Salon Ex­hi­bi­tion

From Jan­uary 30 to May 6, 2018, the Academy and Salon ex­hi­bi­tion is run­ning at the Na­tional Mu­seum of China, at which 103 aca­demic art works from the French Revo­lu­tion to the First World War are on dis­play.

China Pictorial (English) - - CONTENTS - Text by Yi Mei

Jupiter and Thetis, a fa­mous paint­ing by French artist Jean-au­guste-do­minique In­gres (1780-1867), was re­moved from its orig­i­nal frame, placed into a cus­tom-tai­lored box and flown to China for its first trip away from Europe and in­au­gu­ral ex­hi­bi­tion in China. This is also its first de­par­ture from its home mu­seum in the past 40 years.

From Jan­uary 30 to May 6, 2018, the Academy and Salon ex­hi­bi­tion is run­ning at the Na­tional Mu­seum of China, at which 103 aca­demic art works from the French Revo­lu­tion to the First World War are on dis­play. The works are from col­lec­tions of two im­por­tant French in­sti­tu­tions: Ecole Na­tionale Supérieure des Beaux-arts (ENSBA) and Cen­ter Na­tional des Arts Plas­tiques (Na­tional Cen­ter for Vis­ual Arts, CNAP).

Artis­tic Di­a­logue

Aca­demic art orig­i­nated in Italy in the 16th cen­tury and be­came pop­u­lar through­out Europe, par­tic­u­larly in the UK, France and Rus­sia. It was also a pop­u­lar sub­ject at var­i­ous art schools through­out the 18th and 19th cen­turies. Boast­ing a long his­tory of over 300 years, ENSBA is an in­sti­tu­tion that ex­erts far-reach­ing in­flu­ence on Euro­pean art as well as the 20th-cen­tury Chi­nese works. The first gen­er­a­tion of Chi­nese oil painters and paint­ing masters in­clud­ing Xu Bei­hong, Lin Feng­mian, Chang Shuhong, Fang Junbi and Liu Kaiqu ever stud­ied at the school.

ENSBA’S aca­demic sys­tem has be­come a model for other art acad­e­mies. Since its found­ing in 1648, the school has col­lected more than 450,000 works and shared them with the pub­lic through ex­hi­bi­tions and lend­ing to other in­sti­tu­tions.

Some of the ex­hibits are from CNAP, which is a na­tional art col­lect­ing in­sti­tu­tion be­stowed with the right to man­age the reg­is­tra­tion of pub­lic col­lectibles through­out French his­tory. To pro­mote and in­crease the value of its col­lec­tion, the cen­ter of­ten lends its col­lec­tions to var­i­ous mu­se­ums. The cen­ter’s widely di­verse col­lec­tion in­cludes works from Chi­nese artists who stud­ied in France. Chang Shuhong’s Fev­er­ishly Sick de­pict­ing Chang’s sick wife is among them and fea­tured at the ex­hi­bi­tion.

“The first Chi­nese work to join the CNAP’S col­lec­tion was a paint­ing de­pict­ing Lux­em­bourg in the snow, com­pleted by Liu Haisu (18961994) in 1931,” re­veals Anne-so­phie de Bel­le­garde, gen­eral sec­re­tary of CNAP. “We do not have a reg­u­lar venue for dis­play but in­stead loan works to mu­se­ums and in­sti­tu­tions. About 2,000 works from our col­lec­tion are shown around the world each year, which ef­fec­tively keeps these works pop­u­lar and en­hances the in­flu­ence of French cul­ture and art.”

Sa­cred Hall of Beauty

The first sec­tion of the ex­hi­bi­tion is ti­tled “Ecole Na­tionale Supérieure des Beaux-arts: Sa­cred Hall of Beauty.”

The re­dis­cov­ery of Pom­peii in­spired the rise of neo­clas­si­cism in the early 18th cen­tury. ENSBA tightly em­braced neo­clas­si­cism as an aca­demic style in the 19th cen­tury, so cu­ra­tors chose the red walls of Pom­peii as the back­ground for this sec­tion.

This sec­tion demon­strates how ENSBA nur­tured artists in the 19th cen­tury and how con­test sys­tems like the Grand Prix de Rome shaped the styles of artists. Stu­dents at ENSBA re­ceive strict sys­temic train­ing

in­clud­ing copy­ing clas­sics, sketch­ing and learn­ing anatomy. In­gres, once the pres­i­dent of the school, stressed on the im­por­tance of prac­tic­ing sketch­ing. “Sketch­ing is the gym­nas­tics of art,” In­gres said. That sen­tence was so im­pres­sive to Xu Bei­hong, who stud­ied at the in­sti­tu­tion be­fore be­com­ing the pres­i­dent of the Cen­tral Academy of Fine Arts of China, that he in­tro­duced sketch­ing into China’s aca­demic teach­ing sys­tem for art.

ENSBA opened a satel­lite cam­pus in Rome in 1666 and en­cour­aged promis­ing French artists to stay in Rome to study for three to five years on the state’s dime. Only the win­ners of the Grand Prix de Rome were of­fered such an op­por­tu­nity. Con­se­quently, com­pe­ti­tion in the Grand Prix de Rome dur­ing the school year was in­tense and fea­tured many big names.

“Be­fore they be­came artists, young stu­dents re­ceived train­ing and took part in var­i­ous com­pe­ti­tions,” ex­plains Philippe Cin­quini, the ex­hi­bi­tion’s French cu­ra­tor. “Win­ning the most pres­ti­gious art award, Grand Prix de Rome, en­sured that their works would be shown in the Salon ex­hi­bi­tion, the most im­por­tant art dis­play of that time. This ex­hi­bi­tion traces the artist’s jour­ney from stu­dent to salon artist. ”

“The ex­hi­bi­tion dis­plays the full story of French art in the 19th cen­tury,” adds Pan Qing, the ex­hi­bi­tion’s Chi­nese cu­ra­tor. “This shows how an art stu­dent be­came an art celebrity in the 19th cen­tury in France.” Mir­ror of Times

ENSBA’S Salon Ex­hi­bi­tions also con­trib­uted greatly to the pros­per­ity of French art from the 18th to the 19th cen­tury. Since 1737, the school has held an an­nual Royal Paint­ing and Sculp­ture Salon Ex­hi­bi­tion at the Salon Carre in the Lou­vre, which later be­came known as the Salon Ex­hi­bi­tion. The ex­hi­bi­tion mech­a­nism pro­vided artists with new fans and spon­sors, stim­u­lat­ing a more en­er­getic and di­verse art cir­cle and new art trends.

Against a Napoleon green back­ground, the sec­ond sec­tion of the ex­hi­bi­tion, ti­tled “Salon: Stage of Art, Mir­ror of Times,” dis­plays stand-out works from pre­vi­ous Salon Ex­hi­bi­tions in­clud­ing In­gres’ Jupiter and Thetis and Jules-alexan­dre Grun’s Fri­day at French Artists’ Salon. The lat­ter de­picts 111 real peo­ple in­clud­ing artists, the then­pres­i­dent, col­lec­tors, re­porters, singers, dancers and drama­tists. It was fin­ished in 1911, the 30th an­niver­sary of the Salon Ex­hi­bi­tion. This paint­ing mea­sures 3.6 me­ters high and 6 me­ters wide. Be­cause it was too big to be placed up­right on the plane for trans­porta­tion from France to Bei­jing, staff had to re­move the paint­ing from its orig­i­nal frame and roll it up to trans­port it. The work was ac­com­pa­nied by a restora­tion ex­pert through­out the trip.

“We are hon­ored to dis­play works from Chi­nese artists Chang Shuhong and Fang Junbi, who once stud­ied in France,” says Philippe Cin­quini. “The 19th cen­tury was a cen­tury of art for France. Art was a mir­ror, re­flect­ing ad­vanc­ing sci­ence and democ­racy at that time. And it was also art that con­nected France and China.”

Jupiter and Thetis by Jean-au­guste-do­minique In­gres, oil on can­vas, 327×260 cm, 1811 © CNAP

Fev­er­ishly Sick by Chang Shuhong, oil on can­vas, 58×74.5cm, 1931 ©CNAP

Fri­day at French

Artists’ Salon by JulesAlexan­dre Grun, oil on can­vas, 362×617cm, 1911 ©CNAP

The Sec­ond Court­yard of the École des Beaux

Arts by Charles-léon Vinit, oil on can­vas, 91×115 cm, 1850 ©ENSBA

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