A Date with Monet in Wuhan
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