Paris’ Picasso museum, Foundation Giacometti and Beijing 798 Creative Industry Investment sign landmark deal

By Xu Liuliu in Shanghai Source:Global Times Published: 2019/11/6 18:51:48

From left: France's Minister of Culture Franck Riester, Musée National Picasso-Paris President Laurent Le Bon, Foundation Giacometti Director Catherine Grenier and 798 Creative Industry Investment Chairman Wang Yanling Photo: Courtesy of Xu Bo


An graffiti artist paints a wall in Beijing's 798 Art Zone. Photo: IC

While French art is already very popular in China, it is sure to grow even more popular over the next few years thanks to a new art collaboration project between China and France. 

The Musée National Picasso-Paris and the  Foundation Giacometti will work with the Beijing 798 Creative Industry Investment Co, Ltd to stage a series of 10 major exhibitions over the next five years featuring works from Picasso, the most well-known artist in China, and Alberto Giacometti, the only sculptor in the world to have his work sell for more than $100 million at auction. 

"It will be a long-term stable project involving a rich category of events, dialogues and exchanges," Wang Yanling, chairman of Beijing 798 Creative Industry Investment, told the Global Times on Tuesday at a signing ceremony in Shanghai witnessed by visiting French Minister of Culture Franck Riester. 

This is the first time that two such heavyweight French art houses have worked with a Chinese company on such a large project. 

"We'll have many opportunities for cooperation over the next five years when it comes to modern art, contemporary art and anything else," Sabine Longin, deputy director of the foundation, told the Global Times. 

"The most important thing is that it is an open platform and stage that we create. It opens to China, France and even Europe, to artists in a broad meaning from writers, thinkers and even sociologists," she added.

'Obsessed' with culture 

The 798 CUBE project, which is set to see its first major exhibition in June 2020, will also include academic research, public education, young talent exchanges and more. It is a landmark move for China and France in terms of cultural exchanges, and goes hand-in-hand with the establishment of the Shanghai branch of the Pompidou Centre in France on Tuesday. 

"Long live the friendship of China and France," said French President Emmanuel Macron, who participated in the museum's opening on Tuesday after attending the second China International Import Expo. He also highlighted a series of seven cultural projects that were signed between the two countries earlier by saying that "798 CUBE, bravo!"

Recent years have seen an increasing number of art exchanges between the two cultural giants, from the first major Picasso exhibition at Beijing's UCCA Center for Contemporary Art over the summer to an upcoming exhibition in Versailles celebrating the 600th anniversary of China's Forbidden City. 

"We, two countries, are curious about each other's culture. You could even say we are obsessed," said Riester in a speech at the signing ceremony. 

"Now we are working together to showcase our best to the world through these upcoming projects and ideas. They help us get closer and closer while being touching, surprising and inspirational. Only by knowing each other can we grow even closer."

Youth and the future 

The collection of the Musée National Picasso-Paris includes more than 5,000 works of art such as paintings, sculptures and engravings and tens of thousands of archived pieces from Picasso's personal repository. 

With 95 paintings, 260 bronze sculptures, 550 plaster sculptures and thousands of drawings and engravings, the Foundation Giacometti boasts the world's largest collection of Giacometti's works. 

The collections from the two houses will travel thousands of miles to be displayed at the upcoming 798 CUBE Art Center located in the heart of Beijing's iconic cultural landmark the 798 Art Zone. 

Due to the limited space in the art zone, which was formerly a factory complex, the center's architect Zhu Pei called on the art of China's traditional courtyards when designing the functional space for the art center, which includes two main exhibition halls, a lecture hall and a children's art space. 

According to Wang, more than 9 million visitors have come to the art zone so far this year. Among these visitors, a majority have been young people with high expectations when it comes to quality art. The 798 CUBE project will take aim at these young visitors with events planned by both Chinese and French teams.  

"People-to-people exchanges are very important for such two cultural giants... Such a rich and open platform will set up a good example for cultural exchanges in Europe and even the world," said Sabine. 

In addition to the project, the two countries will also cooperate on a new center featuring the art of French sculptor Auguste Rodin in South China's Shenzhen as well as a film that will see the fearless Gaulish warrior Asterix from the French comic series The Adventures of Asterix come to China.  

Newspaper headline: Growing closer

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