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Shanghai exhibition paints picture of change

Updated: 2024-02-02 10:41 ( China Daily )
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The crew from China Art Museum (Shanghai) prepare the exhibition.[Photo by Gao Erqiang/China Daily]

The latest exhibition at the China Art Museum (Shanghai) opened on Saturday is the largest ever showcase of two modern Chinese masters: Lin Fengmian (1900-91) and Wu Guanzhong (1919-2010).

Pictures of China: Artworks by Lin Fengmian and Wu Guanzhong presents 200 paintings, sketches and other work by the artists that cover the different phases of their careers, says Wang Yichuan, Party secretary of the China Art Museum (Shanghai), which was previously known as the Shanghai Art Museum.

The exhibition is being hosted in collaboration with the Tsinghua University Art Museum, the Shanghai Chinese Painting Academy and the Shanghai Artists Association.

Both men studied in France, and returned to make significant contributions to the modernization of Chinese art, according to Chen Xiang, former museum director and chief curator of the exhibition. French arts and culture left a great impact on them, and the exhibition is being held as one of the events marking the China-France Year of Culture and Tourism.

Lin and Wu left large collections of paintings in Shanghai. Wu donated many of his to the Shanghai Art Museum, which held two important retrospectives of the artist in 2006 and 2010. Wu's family donated a third batch of paintings to the museum after his death, as Wu recognized the development of the city's art scene, explains Yang Qi, deputy director of the Shanghai Chinese Art Academy.

Lin worked at the Shanghai Chinese Art Academy for many years. He handpicked around 100 paintings and had them stored at the academy before leaving Shanghai for Hong Kong in 1977. He later donated them to the academy, together with another 118 paintings. The hand-chosen selection is standard art market examples of Lin Fengmian paintings, Chen explains, adding that in the past, Lin Fengmian fakes often appeared at auctions and art fairs. "Sometimes, they were done so well that I would not have been able to tell if I didn't know that the original painting was in the warehouse of Shanghai Chinese Painting Academy," he says.

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