Iconic collection gets another outing

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Iconic collection gets another outing
Beauty of the New Era is running at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing through March 30. Highlights include Qi Baishi, a sculpture by Wu Weishan. [Jiang Dong/China Daily]

National Art Museum again displays works by masters and modern painters.

A line of people stretching back about 2 kilometers outside the National Art Museum of China created quite a stir on social networks and in the media one November day in 2017. They were waiting to grab a look of Beauty of the New Era, an exhibition of some of the best modern art in the museum's collection.

The reason for the long line was that the exhibition was going to end that same day. The 10-day show was held to celebrate the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, and ultimately, it attracted some 130,000 visitors.

The exhibition garnered so much recognition and attention that it is hardly surprising that its second installment was recently unveiled at the National Art Museum, running through March 30.

Nearly 300 works on show are divided into two sections: one featuring Chinese master artists of the 20th century, such as Qi Baishi and Xu Beihong, and another displaying art created over the past decade to reflect the country's progress.

This time the National Art Museum is working with China Media Group. The latter brings to the exhibition documentaries in which the viewers will get rare glimpses of the life and work of some preeminent artists on show. Many of the works at the exhibition were shown at the National Exhibition of Fine Arts, which has been held every five years since 1949.

Wu Weishan, the museum director, says the exhibition is to show new classic works compared to those master paintings created previously. The works on show will reflect the country's transformation in the 20th century, including sustainable development, environmental protection and poverty elimination and recent issues, such as people's efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

"These works sparkle with insight and wisdom," Wu says. "They are the mirrors of the character of a nation and the pulse of the time. They vividly tell China's stories and make the world better understand the Chinese art and the spirit of Chinese people."

Jin Shangyi, a well-established artist and honorary chairman of the China Artists Association, says the landmark exhibition shows the National Art Museum of China's devotion to enriching people's cultural life by diversifying and utilizing its immense collection of art.

Making full use of its collection for public viewing and education and to tell China's stories well has been essential to the mission of the National Art Museum and its administrators.

Wu, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, also prioritizes this mission on his agenda when attending CPPCC's annual session.

He says the museum has been rotating, real and virtual, collected works by ancient artists and modern masters at exhibitions, not only to show the general public the country's cultural accumulations but also to inspire the creation of "new peaks rising from a highland" of art.

He proposed at this year's session that the museum will continue to enrich its public education programs by inviting noted scholars and artists to give lectures, and arrange workshops at which artists sculpt statues for heroes.

Exchanging with and showing the collections of international museums is also important to introduce the home audience to world art, he says, and meanwhile, to make the voice of China heard, and present a true, multidimensional and panoramic view of China to the world.

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