Art of generosity

By Lin Qi | China Daily | Updated: 2022-11-03 08:20
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Train Art II by Anthony Clark is one of the highlights at the TAM. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The ongoing exhibition at the TAM, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Sino-German diplomatic relations, shows more than 60 works in six categories, unfolding the art scenes in Europe and North America between the 1960s and '90s.

It is also being held under a cooperation agreement signed in December 2020 between the NAMOC and Tsinghua University to boost academic exchanges between the two countries and deepen public interest in art.

The exhibition begins with a 1.5-meterhigh painting, Foot Soldier with a Bird, by Picasso. The Spanish master depicted an aging infantryman and a white dove resting on his sword handle and drinking from a bowl of water he is holding. Picasso revisited the theme of infantry in the later stage of his life, an embodiment of his fighting spirit. In the painting, which Picasso made a year before his death, the soldier looks sorrowful and has wrinkles under his eyes, accentuating the atmosphere of sadness.

There are four Picasso works from the Ludwig collection: three oil paintings, including Foot Soldier with a Bird, and one ink work, titled Figures. They have been shown often to attest to people's interest in not only Picasso's distinctive painting style, his influence on culture and the staggering prices of his works at auctions; but also, they remind people in China of a meeting between him and Chinese artist Zhang Daqian in Nice, France, in 1956, viewed as a summit between two masters of Western and Eastern art.

Figures on display was painted on a piece of folded paper with Chinese-style painting brushes. The drawing once decorated Irene Ludwig's bedroom and she cried when parting with it, according to Yang Lizhou, who was a deputy director of the NAMOC in the mid-1990s and corresponded a lot with the couple.

Yang recalls that Peter Ludwig comforted his wife by saying that Picasso would "feel happy in the other world knowing his work was being transported to China, the birthplace of the tools he used to create the painting".

The Ludwig collection encompasses significant trends in art through which one gets to know about the changes in society several decades ago, and the themes and issues being addressed still create a resonance in the audience today. For example, works from the 1960s and '70s show the emergence of consumption culture and people's reflections on overindulgence.

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