19th century European art on show in Beijing

Update:01 Apr 2008
"From Academia to Impressionism -- Master Pieces of the 19th century European paintings" is currently taking over Beijing's art scene.

The exhibition is not about the presentation of art history, as you might expect from typical museum experiences. Instead it reveals how one man's obsession provided the world with a greatly influential set of works from a century of European painting.

The 19th century was a time when diverse art forms including neoclassicism, academic and Pre-Raphaelite art blossomed.

 

The show offers a brisk and eccentric run through a century of Western painting.

The 100 masterpieces are works similar to those found in collections in the world's most prestigious art museums. But these paintings are rarely seen by the public since they were collected by sharp-eyed buyers before they were recognized. They were then selected and purchased by Mexican business magnate Juan Antonio Perez Simon.

The famed art connoisseur and his Juntos Actuados foundation have brought a small portion of his collections to Asia for the first time.

They are currently on show at Beijing's World Art Museum. Its curator Wang Limei flew to Mexico last year to select exhibits from Simon's private collection of more than three thousand art works. Wang said at the show's opening ceremony on Friday that she was touched by Mr. Simon's generosity after he allowed her to choose whatever she wanted for the exhibition.

Aesthetic rigor and careful selection, as well as the unique personality and tastes of the collection's owner, are characteristics that define the Perez Simon collection.

Among its particular traits are themes of female beauty, nature, and scenes from daily life that juxtapose earthy pleasures with the fleeting nature of existence. A fascination with the use of light and color can also be observed, principally in the transition from academic painting to modern art.

One highlight of the exhibition is British painter and sculptor Frederick Lord Leighton's 1871 work "Greek Girls Picking up Pebbles by the Sea".

"From Academia to Impressionism -- Master Pieces of the 19th century European paintings" is currently taking over Beijing's art scene.


A masterpiece of decorative charm, the painting carries no real subject or heavy message but instead features a group of women arranged in a pleasing and harmonious composition.

Another key piece is "The Roses of Heliogabalus" by Anglo-Dutch academician Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema. The piece juxtaposes the pageantry of rose petals in different pinks and the Roman emperor's unceasing enjoyment of watching people choked by the enormous quantities of flowers.

The 19th century was a time when diverse art forms including neoclassicism, academic and Pre-Raphaelite art blossomed. The exhibition offers not only a feast for the eyes but also a chance for Chinese artists to rethink European art and its relevance to the contemporary.

The show will stay in Beijing for three months. Then, it will be exhibited in Shanghai, Changsha and Guangzhou. 

Source:Chinaview

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