A Date with Monet in Wuhan


Special Focus - - Contents - Xu Kuang 许旷

The price­less im­pres­sion­ist Claude Monet, the ab­strac­tion­ist Pablo Pi­casso, the fau­vist painter Henri Matisse, and Pierre Soulages’ out­renoir… A col­lec­tion of 51 pieces of art­work in dif­fer­ent gen­res, worth over 500 mil­lion eu­ros, were ex­hib­ited in Wuhan and ev­ery piece be­ing ex­hib­ited was the orig­i­nal work of the artists.

Zhang Shan, a grad­u­ate of the Sculp­ture Depart­ment of Hubei Academy of Fine Arts, who now works in Shang­hai, told us about the mo­ment she learned of the ex­hibit. “I saw the news in my WeChat mo­ments that the au­then­tic work of Monet and Pi­casso will be ex­hib­ited in Wuhan. Then I de­cided im­me­di­ately that I’d come back to Wuhan to ap­pre­ci­ate them.” On Jan­uary 14, 2018, she and her friend lined up for nearly an hour to en­ter the mu­seum. “But this is Monet! It’s worth it even if the queue is longer. ”

On De­cem­ber 29, 2017, the

ex­hi­bi­tion en­ti­tled FromMonet toSoulages:Path­sofModern WesternPaint­ing(1805–1975) was opened at the Wuhan Art Mu­seum. The art­works are the rare col­lec­tions from the Mu­seum of Mod­ern and Con­tem­po­rary Art of Saint-éti­enne Métropole.

It is also an in­te­gral part of cel­e­brat­ing the 30th an­niver­sary of the Wuhan Art Mu­seum, as well as the 20th an­niver­sary of the French Con­sulate Gen­eral in Wuhan.

Be­fore the open­ing, the ex­hi­bi­tion had al­ready be­come a hot topic of Wuhan cit­i­zens’ Wechat mo­ments. Only in the first three days of 2018, more than 10,000 vis­i­tors at­tended the ex­hi­bi­tion though the av­er­age queu­ing time was more than two hours. This was a scene that had never been wit­nessed in the past 10 years since the mu­seum had been ren­o­vated.

Con­sid­er­ing the safety of the art­works and the com­fort of the view­ers, the Wuhan Art Mu­seum con­trolled its ticket re­lease on week­ends, but it couldn’t dampen peo­ple’s en­thu­si­asm.

Like Zhang Shan, many trav­elled to Wuhan only to ap­pre­ci­ate these au­then­tic mas­ter­pieces. Some of them even

paid a visit to­gether with all their fam­ily mem­bers. Fan Feng, the cu­ra­tor, was deeply im­pressed, “Ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the arts re­quires the proper men­tal­ity. With the im­prove­ment of peo­ple’s liv­ing stan­dards, they are ex­pected to ap­pre­ci­ate the good and the beau­ti­ful more. Art is grad­u­ally im­mers­ing the hearts of our peo­ple. It im­plies that Wuhan is pro­gress­ing in both its econ­omy and so­ci­ety, and it also man­i­fests the fact that the so­cial de­mand for art pop­u­lar­iza­tion and ex­change has in­creased over the years.”

The 51 pieces of art­work on ex­hi­bi­tion pro­vide the vis­i­tors with the va­ri­eties of art forms of the western world, sto­rylin­ing the gen­eral de­vel­op­ment of western paint­ing from the early 19th cen­tury to the end of the 20th cen­tury.

View­ers them­selves were able to ap­pre­ci­ate the paint­ings by the well- known artists such as Courbet, Monet, Matisse, Pi­casso,

and Soulages, and learn much Soli­tude shows a poet deep in about other artists who also made thought with a lyre in his hands. great con­tri­bu­tions to western The poet is sur­rounded by paint­ing on the spot. dusk rays turn­ing from blue to Through­out his en­tire life li­lac, and rip­pling yel­low wa­ter Monet painted about 250 pieces re­flect­ing cool­ness and the of WaterLilies , of which only ex­ten­sion of hori­zon… It re­minds four were round- framed. This me of a pop song by a Chi­nese ex­hi­bi­tion has one of them. singer Zhang Chu, “This is a This most trea­sured piece of sea­son of love. The air is filled the Mu­seum of Mod­ern and with the scent of love. A lonely Con­tem­po­rary Art of Saint- per­son is shame­ful...”

éti­enne Métropole made its de­but “Mom, what is this black in Wuhan at an in­sured value of paint­ing?” A lit­tle girl asked RMB 200 mil­lion. her mother cu­ri­ously, which Un­like other paint­ings, this voiced out the puz­zle hover­ing in par­tic­u­lar paint­ing was fenced so many view­ers’ minds. Soulages’

that view­ers could only see it at Paint­ing19June1979 is hailed a dis­tance. Many stretched their as his mile­stone for “lib­er­at­ing necks over the fence to get as black from the dark­ness.” The close as pos­si­ble. The con­trast of can­vas is painted all black. The colors of the lilies, wa­ter, flow­ers, loom­ing brush strokes look like and leaves make the space look carv­ings. Placed at the end of un­lim­ited, and the round frame the ex­hi­bi­tion, Soulages’ black al­lows the vis­ual to be more be­comes eye catch­ing, for even if fo­cused, once again en­larg­ing the you stare at it pi­ously for an hour, space per­cep­tion. you still may not un­der­stand Alphonse Os­bert’s paint­ing ex­actly what it says.

Apart from Soulages’ black paint­ings, there were also “jump­ing” dec­o­ra­tive pat­terns on Dubuf­fet’s can­vas. The gen­eral pub­lic may find it dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand these Western ab­stract paint­ings with those in­de­scrib­able graph­ics and colors, but it didn’t pre­vent them from stop­ping and spec­u­lat­ing in front of the paint­ings.

“Art is a bridge for cul­tural ex­changes which al­lows peo­ple of two na­tions to un­der­stand each other. With such mu­tual un­der­stand­ing, in the fu­ture, the two peo­ples can work and de­velop to­gether on the in­ter­na­tional arena. This is what China and France have been do­ing,” said French Con­sul Gen­eral Olivier Guy­on­va­rch. They hoped to bring the best of France to Wuhan and present it to the cit­i­zens there. This ex­hi­bi­tion was a pi­o­neer­ing step.

Mean­while, an­other ex­hibit show­ing in the mu­seum was Sketches,20Years,aCol­lec­tionofOilPaint­ings by fa­mous Chi­nese artists. Their art­works were heav­ily in­flu­enced by the French Bar­bizon style. Fan Feng, the cu­ra­tor, said it was a de­lib­er­ate ar­range­ment. Sta­tion­ing the two ex­hi­bi­tions next to each other, the Wuhan Art Mu­seum ex­pected that the lo­cal artists and art lovers would be able to wit­ness the ex­change of dif­fer­ent cul­tures and the di­ver­sity of art forms through com­par­i­son. (Trans­la­tion: Zhang Lei)

阿方斯·奥斯波特的《孤独》Soli­tude by Alphonse Os­bert

苏拉热的《1979 年 6 月 19 日画作》Paint­ing19June197 9 by Pierre Soulages

毕加索绘制在丝巾上的《为人民的和平》LaPaix­pourlesPe­u­ples (i.e. Peace­forthePeo­ple ) by Pablo Pi­casso

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