Marketing Western masters

Updated: 2016-07-20 08:03

By Lin Qi(China Daily)

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Marketing Western masters

Jacques Renoir, great-grandson of Pierre-Auguste Renoir, attends the exhibition's opening.

The past five years have seen many "Western art masters' shows" organized and funded by the mainland's private sector. The exhibitions, which introduce the art of household names in impressionism and modernism to audiences in major cities, attract large crowds.

In the past, such exhibitions were held mostly by national museums in Beijing. But now, companies that boast abundant capital are venturing into this growing market that is satisfying a public craving for quality art products.

Yan says he hit upon the idea to bring more Western artworks to China after he staged two Homage to Masters exhibitions during the Nanjing International Art Festival, an annual event staged since 2014.

The exhibitions displayed part of his collection of Western art and he says he was impressed by the influx of visitors, including some who had "queued for between five and six hours to see the shows".

"After all, only a small proportion of Chinese are able to visit museums overseas and view the masterpieces. A greater number of people hope to enjoy Western art within a short distance of their homes and workplaces," he says.

But some of the exhibitions that claim to showcase "masters' art" have drawn criticism for not showing real masterpieces and being too commercial.

Visitors to the Picasso in China exhibition now on in Beijing complain that after spending 100 yuan ($15) they get to see mostly lithographs and ceramics done by the Spanish artist. The 83 works on display are said to be from eight private collectors abroad.

Commenting on the Picasso exhibition, Chinese painter and art critic Xi Yaoyi says: "It only has a few canvases that are not even representative of Picasso's art. At this show, people can't fully understand his style or achievements."