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Masters in the frame present a picture of variety

By Zhang Kun | China Daily | Updated: 2022-09-30 08:17

Visitors look at a painting at 100 Years of Modern Art at Bund One Art Museum in Shanghai. On show are 57 paintings, sculptures, photographs and installations, done between 1865 and 1972, by artists, including Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, Jackson Pollock and Joan Miro. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The ongoing exhibition at Bund One Art Museum in Shanghai, 100 Years of Modern Art, presents 57 paintings, sculptures, photographs and installations from 1865 to 1972 by master artists from Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh and Amedeo Modigliani to Jackson Pollock and Joan Miro.

The exhibits have come from the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rome, a venue dedicated to modern and contemporary art in Italy. This is the first time the institution has had a collective exhibition in Shanghai and it will last until Jan 8.

Meanwhile, in Beijing, the Italian institution is also presenting an exhibition of 62 artworks by 46 artists from its collection. Entitled The Infinite Universe of Wuji, the exhibition at China Millennium Monument's art museum in Beijing was launched on July 23, and will run until Oct 30.

Ding Ning, a professor of Peking University, praises the exhibition in Beijing for presenting a large number of masters.

Ding says this reflects various styles of art and features many of the most important creations by these artists, such as the Portrait of Hanka Zborowska, created by Modigliani in 1917.

However, Xie Dingwei, director of Bund One Art Museum, is confident that the exhibits in Shanghai are just as brilliant, if not more so. "We have," he says, "convinced the Italian institution to bring to Shanghai for the first time an important Klimt painting, The Three Ages of Woman."

Austrian artist Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) created no more than 200 oil paintings in his lifetime, most of which are now at the Belvedere Museum in Vienna, Austria.

"His paintings are such a treasured asset of Austrian culture that they are seldom allowed to travel abroad for exhibitions," Xie says. This was an exception because it was bought by the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rome in 1912, after winning the gold medal in the 1911 international exhibition also held in Rome.

Since its official opening in 1883, the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rome has put together a collection of more than 20,000 works of paintings, drawings, sculptures and installations, offering a panoramic view on art from the 1800s to today.

The artworks represent all the major artistic movements of the past two centuries, from neoclassicism to impressionism, from the historical avant-garde movements of the early 20th century to the most contemporary forms of art.

Klimt is a founding member of the Vienna Secession movement. This group of painters revolted against academic art, and preferred a more decorative style similar to art nouveau. Klimt is recognized for his paintings, especially portraits of women, characterized by the flat and decorative patterns of color and gold leaf.

The Three Ages of Woman was created by Klimt in 1905 and features a young woman holding in her arms a little girl, and beside them an elderly woman standing with a bowed head. The large painting is 171 centimeters each in length and width.

The symbol for the cycle of life is not just about women, Xie says. "It's for all human and mortal beings. What touches me most is the situation of women and the strong emotions reflected in the painting, especially mother's love and sacrifice."

Most of the artists are represented by at least one piece at the exhibition. Nu Couche by Modigliani is shown in Shanghai, alongside Pink Waterlilies by Monet, and a portrait of Madame Ginoux by Van Gogh.

However, Italian artist Giacomo Balla (1871-1958) has seven paintings on exhibition in Shanghai. "Because his artworks present a journey of evolution, from the early work of portraits with post-impressionism and divisionism influences, to futurism paintings depicting life, movement and speed," according to Xie.

"Our curator in the Italian institution used to quote Hamlet, and said 'Time is out of joint' in the development of modern and contemporary art. We still hope visitors can have an enjoyable journey through the diversity of techniques, styles and ideas," Xie adds.

This year marks the China-Italy Year of Culture and Tourism, and a wide range of cultural exchange events are taking place in both China and Italy.

Also going on at Bund One Art Museum in Shanghai is another exhibition from Italy. Uffizi Self-portrait Masterpieces is the first of 10 exhibitions that the renowned Italian museum Uffizi Galleries is putting up in Shanghai, this year onward.

If you go

100 Years of Modern Art

10 am-6 pm (last entry by 5:30 pm) Sept 15-Jan 8.Bund One Art Museum, 2F, 1 Zhongshan No 1 East Road, Huangpu district, Shanghai. Online appointments needed via official WeChat account of Bund One Art Museum before visiting.

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