Impressionist artist Claude Monet’s works have been displayed in prestigious museums all over the world, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to Musée d‘Orsay in Paris, but for the first time, people in Shanghai will get a chance to enjoy the master’s great works not in a stuffy museum, but at a luxury mall.
The Shanghai K11 Art Mall touts to bring the “first ever exhibition of Monet in mainland China,” where shoppers can browse luxury brands such as Dolce & Gabbana alongside an displays of Monet’s works, such as the iconic Water Lily and Wisteria. While this exhibition technically isn’t Monet’s first foray into mainland China, that honor went to the Shanghai Museum, as part of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute international tour.
Regardless, the Shanghai K11 will be the first time 40 original Monet and 12 other great works from the Paris Marmottan Monet Museum are displayed at a mall, from March 8 to June 15. It comes in the wake of the 50th anniversary of Franco-Sino diplomatic relations, which were celebrated in Paris over Chinese New Year.
While combining shopping experience with visual art is part of a new concept pioneered by Chinese tycoon Adrian Cheng in Hong Kong since 2009, establishments such as hotels and even restaurants have been trying to introduce a touch of class to their act as well, such as boutique hotels integrating installation art in their lobbies, or restaurants crafting a dining space with the feel of an art salon. Luxury brands are redefining the boundaries of fashion and art, such as Bottega Veneta’s attempts to bridge a connection between its image and local culture through an art exhibition, or Hugo Boss promoting the Chinese arts scene through recognition with its art award.
The K11 mall chain strives to set itself apart from the luxury market by being a part of an art foundation that seeks to nurture the Chinese contemporary art movement by providing the public space and exposure. “We hope that this exhibition will not only provide young Chinese artists, students of art, and our community with the unique opportunity to rediscover and reinterpret Impressionism,” says Cheng, chairman of the K11 Art Foundation, in a press release. “It will also inspire them to gain a new understanding of the role of art in the context of societal development, like how Monet influenced generations of artists after him.”
Reaction on Shanghai K11’s Weibo announcement has been generally favorable; their Weibo campaign to give out free tickets for reposts garnered over 1,000 responses in a short period of time.
It seems that K11’s strategy of redefining shopping through art is working—as Chinese shoppers become more affluent and are looking for sophistication beyond the material, the K11 Art Mall that opened in Shanghai has been a big hit. “They want to get a taste of culture at shopping centers,” Cheng told the South China Morning Post. “They will get bored if the shopping malls display and sell only a variety of luxury items.”
And with the Shanghai K11 mall displaying a Monet and Impressionism collection this coming March, culture is certainly what shoppers can experience alongside luxury shopping.