Recently, along with the study, planning and exhibition of the CAFA Art Museum Collection Series, a large number of outstanding artists and artists’ families, especially the artists fostered by CAFA, are supporting the collection and study of their alma mater. President Pan Gongkai, Mr. Yuan Yunsheng and Mr. Fang Lijun, etc., have donated their important large-scale works, Wu Xian, wife of Wang Shiguo and their daughters, and Su Gaoli donated a lot of oil paintings and sketches, families of Li Qi and Wang Dingli, as well as Hong Hao donated some selected works. CAFA Art Museum is planning an exhibition named “Thematic Exhibition of the Collection – Young at Heart: Youth Period of Art in the People’s Republic of China”, which will be held at the National Art Museum of China, and when the related study work unfolds, Jin Shangyi, Former President of CAFA has donated “The Old Farmer Leaning on His Hoe”, an important work of his youth, and large numbers of famous artists such as Prof. Xu Bing, Prof. Tan Ping, Prof. Sui Jianguo, Prof. Su Xinping, Prof. Lv Shengzhong, Prof. Wang Yuping, Prof. Shen Ling, Mr. Fang Lijun, etc, have selflessly donated their own to CAFA Art Museum.
In addition, the couple, Liu Xiaodong and Yu Hong have donated years of their valuable collection “Civilians Canteen” by Li Zhongjin, filling the gaps and omissions of Li Zhongjin in the “Selected Works of Oil Painting Created in the Period of National Beiping Art School”, enhancing the academic force of “CAFA Art Museum Collection Series: Selected Works of Oil Painting Created in the Period of National Beiping Art School (Western Painting Part)”. In recent days, posterities of some old artists such as Li Yishi and Song Buyun have expressed that they will further support the collection and study of the CAFA Art Museum after visiting “Selected Works of Oil Painting Created in the Period of National Beiping Art School”. It is because of the selfless donations by the artists and artists’ relatives, that the blank parts of some important artists and works of key historical periods of Chinese modern and contemporary art from CAFA Art Museum collections are filled and gradually improving the collection sequence of Chinese modern and contemporary art in its collection.
The Whole Story of the Donation of “Civilians Canteen” by Liu Xiaodong and Yu Hong
A small-scale press conference for the donation of the “Civilians Canteen” by Liu Xiaodong and Yu Hong was held on the spot at “CAFA Art Museum Collection Series: Selected Works of Oil Painting Created in the Period of National Beiping Art School (Western Painting Part)”, at 11:00 am on December 13, 2012, meanwhile, Director Wang Huangsheng, and Liu Xiaodong and Yu Hong were all present and were interviewed there.
Liu Xiaodong explained how he got the “Civilians Canteen” and why he denoted it. “Liu Xiaodong: 1990-2000” solo Exhibition was held by CAFA in 2000, and Fan Di’an and Song Xiaoxia were the curators. The work by Li Zhongjin was printed in the article about Liu Xiaodong’s art by Song Xiaoxia, because both of the works are about “eating”, and about folk scenes, she wanted to offer a comparison of them. Then the works were found on the market and taken by a collector to a show held by China Guardian Auctions, Liu Xiaodong finally got it by exchanging his works. Following, Director Wang Huangsheng often took it to exhibitions, so that Liu Xiaodong gradually learned its significance in Chinese art history. When Wang Huangsheng directs the art museum, the exhibitions are fabulous, and it is then no longer an exhibition hall but a real and typical art museum, referring to different social education functions and combing through history, it is a rather promising art museum, and the works are better when collected by the museum than in private collections, so it was a wise decision to denote it now instead of on the eve of his retirement. When Liu Xiaodong talked about how he was moved by the exhibition and the donations by artists, he said, “We should do something good, when we do it, it will affect others to do some unpredictable good things, we all know what is good.” Yu Hong said, when she saw the exhibition of Li Zhongjin held by the art museum, she had a in-depth understanding of Li Zhongjin, his works reflecting the tradition of social realism which was consistent with CAFA, it was great to show it again today, each time it became more familiar.
Wang Huangsheng explained the reason why he acquired it from Liu Xiaodong and Yu Hong. Li Zhongjin is a pivotal professor at CAFA, but the art museum does not hold any of his works. When the exhibition of Li Zhongjin was held last year, the art museum only collected a small amount of works created at the end of the 1950s, it is lucky to find “Civilians Canteen”, created in 1947, painted during his best years, and it is a so-called prime work. So, it is necessary to consider it when studying the period of National Beijing Art School. He said with a smile: “I need it so much, but never thought that it is so easy to get it.
When talking about the exhibition “Selected Works of Oil Painting Created in the Period of National Beiping School”, Liu Xiaodong said, when he saw the exhibition, he had a particular precious sentiment when he looked at each piece, he found many unknown artists and events, and he became kind and humane. When asked whether he would denote his own works to the art museum, he answered that he had no location in art history, and he was still on the road. He joked: “Art Museum is a historical place, so I cannot force them to accept my works.” But he said, if the art museum was in need of his works when he retired, he must offer them.
Charity donations by a lot of important artists and groups are particularly precious in the context of the active art market and frequent art trading. From charities to the public art museums, they not only enrich the collection of the CAFA Art Museum, but also display the historical, cultural and social responsibilities of the real artists.
Text by Guo Hongmei and Duan Ziying
Translated by Chen Peihua and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO