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September 9, 2023

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Museum Berggruen brings the best of modern masters to city

In collaboration with Museum Berggruen in Berlin, UCCA Edge in Shanghai is hosting an exhibition tracing the evolution of European modern art in the 20th century through major works by six modern masters, including Pablo Picasso.

The exhibition, titled “Modern Time,” features nearly 100 works by Picasso (1881-1973), Paul Klee (1879-1940), Henri Matisse (1869-1954), Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966), Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) and Georges Braque (1882-1963).

These works, covering painting, sculpture, paper cut-outs and other media, are being shown in China for the first time, encouraging viewers to experience the development of modern art through styles such as cubism, surrealism and other strands of abstraction.

The Shanghai exhibition is the third stop of Berggruen’s international tour after previous shows in Tokyo and Osaka.

It is presented in a strict chronological order according to the completion of each work, thus highlighting in sequence the breakthroughs that characterized the flourishing of creativity in Europe throughout the first half of the 20th century.

Aside from the artworks on display, visitors will discover that some of the artists were not exempt from the front lines during World War I, which was one of the deadliest and most horrific battles in history.

Braque was drafted in 1914 and suffered a head wound shortly after, putting an end to his creative cooperation with Picasso on cubism. Matisse volunteered for service after not painting for almost a year but was turned down due to his advanced age.

In 1917, Klee was drafted, but he refused to let the war stop his creative activities. At his Gersthofen flight school desk, Klee created a series of watercolor poem paintings influenced by Chinese poetry that blended imagery and phrases. For example, “Awakening” celebrates his survival while also calling on humanity to ponder and rebuild itself after the disastrous war.

For many local art enthusiasts, the show reveals Klee’s allure. More than 30 pieces make up the most complete exhibition of his work in China to date. Klee’s works on display range from elegantly abstracted landscapes invoking cubism and bearing the impact of his time teaching at the Bauhaus to the humorous figuration of “China’s Play” (1939).

With 40 of Picasso’s pieces, the exhibition also provides an all-encompassing overview of eight decades of the Spanish artist’s career.

Berggruen is one of the most important museums of modern art in Europe, world-renowned for its collection of works by Picasso, Matisse, Klee and Giacometti.



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