Exhibition Slated For National Art Museum Of China (NAMOC) From November 5 – December 13
Following its successful run at Shanghai’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) earlier this year (Jing Daily coverage), the brand-exalting “Culture Chanel” exhibition will hit the National Art Museum of China (NAMOC) in Beijing from November 5th to December 13. As in Shanghai, the exhibition will include more than 400 pieces from Chanel’s past and present, including paintings, drawings, photographs, films, sculptures, manuscripts, apparel, perfume and jewelry, culled from public and private collections.
Curated by Jean-Louis Froment, a well-known figure in the worlds of contemporary art and design, Culture Chanel is divided up into five primary themes: Origin, Abstraction, Invisibility, Liberty and Imaginary, which blend together seamlessly as visitors wind through the exhibition.
Chanel’s exhibition at NAMOC follows on the heels of other recent luxury/art exhibitions in the Chinese capital. As Jing Daily previously noted, the National Museum of China — which re-opened this April after a nearly decade-long renovation project — has already held a couple of exhibitions by top global luxury brands this year. In May, Louis Vuitton launched its “Voyages” exhibition at the museum, and in September, Bulgari made Beijing the latest stop for its globe-trotting “125 Years of Italian Magnificence” retrospective. If the reaction of one Sina Weibo user — who described the Shanghai installment of Culture Chanel as “elegant, honest, and modern…Without too many ‘luxury’ elements” — is any indication, the exhibition might sidestep some of the criticism faced by other brands and museums during their cooperative exhibitions.
As the Chinese-language news site Chinanews previously chimed in on the topic of luxury-museum partnerships:
As a national museum, is a luxury brand exhibition too commercial [for the NMC]? Outside the museum, a long line of people waited to take a look at [Louis Vuitton's] “Voyages” exhibition. When asked whether they thought the exhibition was too crassly commercial, one respondent said it’s to be expected, since a luxury brand is involved. Among the visitors lined up were several art students. “We major in design,” one said, “so we feel this [exhibition] is a rare chance to learn about the way brands combine craftsmanship with business, since there aren’t many Chinese companies that do that.”
Some industry insiders, when asked if the NMC’s Louis Vuitton exhibition is too commercialized, said it’s understandable for the museum to organize this type of show. Still, some added, the museum cannot ignore its social responsibilities. Many of us have failed to distinguish between art and culture exhibitions, which cultural scholar Pei Yu says are two distinct types of shows. As a museum, Pei Yu suggested, the National Museum of China should not only display exhibitions focused on cultural heritage, but needs to balance it with art exhibitions. Many Chinese brands with long historical pedigrees, such as Quanjude (全聚德) and Goubuli (狗不理) have been included in museum exhibitions, Pei noted, so foreign brands like Louis Vuitton and Cartier, which often date back hundreds of years, can also do so.
While these luxury-focused exhibitions might not be to the taste of every museum-goer in China, as we pointed out this past May, they’re perhaps unavoidable. With the exception of special exhibitions like “Culture Chanel” (or “Voyages,” or “125 Years of Italian Magnificence”), admission to NAMOC and the National Museum of China is free. From a bottom-line standpoint, mounting these types of exhibitions is a good way to get an otherwise uncollected 10 yuan (US$1.50) entrance fee from visitors, in the cases when extra fees are applied.