The ongoing exhibition at the Bund One Art Museum in Shanghai, 100 Years of Modern Art, features 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 Miró.
The exhibits come from the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rome, a place dedicated to modern and contemporary art in Italy. This is the first time that the institution has organized a collective exhibition in Shanghai and it will last until January 8.
At the same time, in Beijing, the Italian institution is also presenting an exhibition of 62 works by 46 artists from its collection. Title The Wuji’s Infinite UniverseThe exhibition at the China Millennium Monument Art Museum in Beijing opened on July 23 and will run until October 30.
Ding Ning, a professor at Peking University, praises the Beijing exhibition for displaying a large number of masters.
Ding says it reflects various art styles and features many of these artists’ most important creations, such as the Portrait of Hanka Zborowskacreated by Modigliani in 1917.
However, Xie Dingwei, director of the Bund One Art Museum, is convinced that the exhibitions in Shanghai are just as brilliant, if not more so. “We convinced the Italian institution to bring to Shanghai for the first time an important painting by Klimt, The three ages of woman.”
Austrian artist Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) created no more than 200 oil paintings during his lifetime, most of which are now in the Belvedere Museum in Vienna, Austria.
“His paintings are such a valuable asset of Austrian culture that they are rarely allowed to travel abroad for exhibitions,” says Xie. This was an exception as it was purchased by the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rome in 1912, after winning the Gold Medal at 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 assembled a collection of more than 20,000 works of paintings, drawings, sculptures and installations, offering a panoramic view of art from the 1800s to our days.
The works represent all the major artistic currents of the last two centuries, from neoclassicism to impressionism, from the historical avant-gardes of the early 20th century to the most contemporary forms of art.
Klimt is a founding member of the Viennese Secession movement. This group of painters revolted against academic art and preferred a more decorative style close to art nouveau. Klimt is recognized for his paintings, particularly the portraits of women, characterized by the flat, decorative patterns of color and gold leaf.
The three ages of woman was created by Klimt in 1905 and depicts a young woman holding a little girl in her arms, and next to them a standing elderly woman with a bowed head. The large painting measures 171 centimeters each in length and width.
The cycle of life symbol is not just for women, Xie says. “It is for all human beings and mortals. What touches me the most is the situation of women and the strong emotions that are reflected in the painting, especially the love and sacrifice of the mother.”
Most artists are represented by at least one piece at the exhibition. Modigliani’s Nu Couche is presented in Shanghai alongside Monet’s Pink Water Lilies and a portrait of Madame Ginoux by Van Gogh.
However, the Italian artist Giacomo Balla (1871-1958) exhibited seven paintings in Shanghai. “Because his works present a journey of evolution, from early portrait works with post-Impressionist and Divisionist influences, to futuristic paintings depicting life, movement and speed,” according to Xie.
“Our Italian institution curator used to quote Hamlet and say that ‘time is out of whack’ in the development of modern and contemporary art. We always hope that visitors can have a pleasant journey through the diversity of techniques, styles and ideas,” Xie adds.
This year marks the Sino-Italian Year of Culture and Tourism, and a wide range of cultural exchange events are taking place in China and Italy.
Another Italian exhibition is also taking place at the Bund One Art Museum in Shanghai. Uffizi Self-portrait Masterpieces is the first of 10 exhibitions that the famous Italian museum Uffizi Galleries is organizing in Shanghai, starting this year.
If you are going to
100 years of modern art
10am-6pm (last admission 5.30pm) September 15-January 8. Bund One Art Museum, 2F, 1 Zhongshan No. 1 East Road, Huangpu district, Shanghai. Online appointments required via the official WeChat account of the Bund One Art Museum before the visit.