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Sharing creativity

By Lin Qi | China Daily | Updated: 2018-07-03 07:20
A visitor looks at a painting by Pablo Picasso at the exhibition at the National Art Museum of China. [Photo by Jiang Dong/China Daily]

Since its opening in 1963, the National Art Museum of China has assembled more than 110,000 artworks in its collection, among which some 3,500 items have been produced by foreign artists.

It has accumulated a variety of international artworks as a way to broaden the home audience's vision of the world and also expand the Beijing-based museum's global influence. The bulk of the items in its collection have been donated by artists and collectors at home and abroad since the 1990s, according to Wu Weishan, the director of NAMOC.

An ongoing exhibition, titled Harmonious Co-Existence, shows more than 220 paintings, prints, photos and sculptures, aiming to capture the scale of NAMOC's international collection. Artists include Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, David Hockney and Aanselm Kiefer, whose works are among the most expensive on the world art market today.

The star lineup is perhaps why NAMOC saw an influx of visitors over the past weekend, with a long line outside the museum despite the rising summer temperatures.

The artworks by the master artists are expected to be on display at NAMOC through Sunday.

The last time the museum experienced a similar visitor enthusiasm was in November, when a weeklong exhibition of its collection of modern Chinese masterpieces ran.

Wu says the current exhibition has been specially curated to respond to the initiative of "building a community of shared future for mankind", as proposed by President Xi Jinping.

"It is a gathering of human civilizations, juxtaposing different styles of art and different views on beauty," Wu says.

"It also shows the inclusive attitude of Chinese culture."

Some of the exhibits have been shown at NAMOC and outside in previous years. Wu says such shows in China have given the local audience a chance to witness the dynamics of art and creativity in other parts of the world, while also conveying to them the contributions made to art history by both famous and lesser-known artists.

The exhibition shows a selection of a donation of 117 artworks by German industrialists and collectors Irene and Peter Ludwig in 1996. The donation that helps the Chinese audience understand developments in the art world at the time includes works of eminent European and US artists, such as Roy Lichtenstein, Gerhard Richter and Markus Lupertz.

Three oil paintings and one ink piece by Picasso from the Ludwigs' donation are also on display at the ongoing exhibition. The ink work, titled Figures, shows a semi-abstract style. Picasso drew it on a folded piece of paper with what is considered traditional Chinese painting brushes in 1967.

Yang Lizhou, who was deputy director of NAMOC in the mid-1990s and corresponded a lot with the couple on donation back then, says Figures had long decorated Irene Ludwig's bedroom and that she cried while parting with the painting.

Yang says that Peter Ludwig told his wife, "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".

Harmonious Co-Existence also shows a donation of black-and-white photography from Beijing-based Timeless Gallery, among which are classic works by leading photographers of the 20th century, such as Edward Weston and Ansel Adams of the United States.

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