Show, Featuring More Than 800 Pieces, Running Through February 26
The recently opened exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of the National Art Museum of China in Beijing offers visitors a rare peek at some of the museum’s most valued pieces. Running through February 26, the wide-ranging exhibition features more than 800 pieces, from oils to watercolors and ink paintings, calligraphic scrolls, sculptures, prints and folk art works, to paper-cuttings, clay figurines and ethnic embroidery pieces, selected from thousands of works donated by patrons over the past five decades.
Launching in the midst of Beijing’s Chinese New Year celebrations, the exhibition has attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors, with at least 100,000 coming during the opening weekend, according to museum publicist Yu Ge.
Since its opening in 1961, the National Art Museum of China has collected around 110,000 works of art, with at least 10,000 of these having been donated by artists and private collectors based both in China and abroad. According to dean (and accomplished art critic) Fan Di’an, the donations, many of which are on display in the current exhibition, “constitute a vital part of our permanent collection since its inception in 1961.” However, since the museum currently has only 17,000 square meters of exhibition space, only a small percentage of its collection can be displayed at one time.
Highlights of the 50th anniversary exhibition include traditional works like the Rocks and Bamboo scroll created by the famed Song Dynasty official and scholar Su Shi (1037-1101), the only work by this artist found to date on the Chinese mainland, Sun Flowers and Wild Grass by Ming Dynasty master Shen Zhou (1427-1509), and Ming painter Tang Yin’s (1470-1523) A Panoramic View of the Lakes and Mountains in South China. All three of these paintings came from a collection of 145 works donated in 1964 by Deng Tuo (1912-1966), former manager and editor-in-chief of the state-run People’s Daily newspaper.
Although space constraints limit the size of this exhibition, visitors won’t have to wait much longer for the National Art Museum’s shows to match its ambition (and its collection). A much larger National Art Museum, with around 90,000 square meters of exhibition space, is currently being constructed near the “Bird’s Nest” in northern Beijing.