Exhibition Celebrates 125 Years Of Brand Heritage And Cultural Dialogue
Last weekend, members of the Jing Daily team had the privilege to attend the opening ceremony of Bulgari’s 125 Years of Italian Magnificence exhibition, held at Beijing’s National Museum of China. Running from September 4 to November 3, the retrospective exhibition showcases 600 pieces of Bulgari jewelry, highlighting the development of Italian design from over the course of Bulgari’s 125 year history.
In addition to the classic jewelry on show, the exhibition turns an eye to the traditional tastes and aesthetics of Italian artisans, adding a flavor of brand and luxury education (and cultural dialogue) to the retrospective. Having previously shown in Rome in 2009 and Paris in 2010, the Beijing exhibition at the National Museum is the first time that Bulgari’s retrospective has toured Asia.
The Opening Ceremony
The ribbon-cutting ceremony was attended by vice president of Bulgari, Nicola Bulgari, CEO of Bulgari, Francesco Trapani, minister of the Italian Embassy in China, Paolo Crudele, and vice curators of the National Museum of China, Chen Lüsheng and Huang Zhenchun. Chinese celebrities in attendance included actress Tang Wei, singer Li Yuchun, actress Kitty Zhang Yuqi, actor David Wu, and Taiwanese actress and model Pace Wu, as well as many fixtures from the Beijing fashion scene.
At the ceremony, Chen Lüsheng, vice curator of National Museum, shared an in-depth perspective of the exhibition from diverse angles. In terms of the origin of the aesthetics seen in the jewelry on display, Chen felt that a sense of universality was immediately apparent, which gives the exhibition a resonance with Chinese visitors.
The exhibition has a dual nature, then, of showing the interconnectedness of aesthetics while, in a more simpler sense, sharing the beauty of classic Italian design to a Chinese audience. Chen added that he thought China could learn a great deal from Italian design experience, craftsmanship, brand management and industry development. Chen said that the National Museum would make a great effort to promote deeper communication between Chinese and Italian cultures through this exhibition.
In 2010, China’s Ministry of Culture signed a 5-year contract on exchanging exhibition space with Italy’s Ministry of Cultural Heritage. Under the agreement, China will set up a permanent exhibition room in Rome, and an Italian exhibition room will be constructed at China’s National Museum. According to Chen, this is the first-ever country-based exhibition exchange program in China, and will lead the way in artistic communication between the two countries while promoting the ”internationalism” of Chinese culture.
After Chen Lüsheng’s speech, Nicola Bulgari remarked that history and cultural heritage were the source of knowledge and power that enlightens people on creating the future. Bulgari, as a company, is proud of its history and heritage, Nicola Bulgari added, which helps the brand build its image and enable success. Beijing’s long history and ancient culture can be, Bulgari said, a perfect match with that of the Bulgari brand, which is the reason the company selected the Chinese capital as the first non-European city for the brand retrospective. Bulgari added that he hoped the exhibition would link the Chinese public and Italian art world much closely, further promoting cultural communication between the two countries.
After the opening ceremony, guests walked through the sprawling exhibition, which includes many delicate design drawings, glamour jewelry, walls flickering with 3D images, and films featuring stars wearing Bulgari jewelry from the past and present. Items on display included classic snake-shaped jewelry, multicolored designs inspired by the Italian Renaissance, special “gas pipe” models and an iconic ancient coin series, all of which reflected Bulgari’s evolution over the years.
Though Italy has numerous brands with similarly delicate designs and long histories, Bulgari continues to charm. As the famous American artist Andy Warhol once said, “I always visit Bulgari because it is the most important museum of contemporary art.” Items on display in China were specially chosen for this exhibition, and many of them are being shown to the public for the first time.
Cultural Dialogue Between Chinese and Italian Aesthetics
Beijing’s National Museum displays thousands of cultural and historical relics from different eras of Chinese history, reflecting Chinese aesthetics from ancient to modern. Fittingly, the display of Bulgari’s designs, which represent classic Italian design, at the National Museum reflects both the commonalities and contrasts of these two ancient civilizations. The inherent dialogue apparent in the aesthetics of the two countries is an eye-opening experience for every visitor, Chinese or non-Chinese.
125 Years of Italian Magnificence: Bulgari Retrospective Exhibition
Dates: Sep 4 – Nov 3, 2011
Venue: Galleries N1-N4, National Museum of China
16 East Chang’an Avenue, Dongcheng District, Beijing, China
Special thanks to Nels Frye, editor-in-chief of LifeStyle magazine; Fleishman Hillard International Communications; and Jing Daily Beijing photographer Yu Ding and correspondent Jin Li.
Bulgari jewelry at Beijing’s National Museum (Image: Yu Ding exclusively for Jing Daily)