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German expressionism on view in Shanghai

2014-08-08 14:25 chinadaily.com.cn Web Editor: Si Huan

Among the feast of works currently on show at the China Art Museum Shanghai, one collection stands out.

The 40 prints and sculptures by Kaethe Kollwitz (1867-1945) on show in Hall 27 of the China Art Museum Shanghai might be easily overlooked as seven exhibitions focusing on Expressionist works are opening at the same time on Aug 1.

However, the German artist's work is well worth examining and is of particular note in China as it inspired generations of artists, authors and revolutionaries.

Lu Xun (1881-1936) was the first to introduce Kollwitz's woodcut prints to China in the 1930s. Lu Xun published one of Kollwitz's woodcuts, Sacrifice, in a literary journal in memory of five young writers murdered because of their Communist beliefs.

Lu Xun was one of the most important Chinese writers of the 20th century in China. He was so inspired by Kollwitz's works that he invited lecturers to teach woodcut techniques to Chinese artists. He was the first publisher in China to introduce Kollwitz's prints.

Sacrifice is one of the standouts in the Kollwtz show at the China Art Museum Shanghai, which is titled "My Children, Spring is Coming".

It depicts a woman, eyes closed, holding up a child as if in offering to the gods.

It was part of an emotionally charged print series entitled War, which she produced after her youngest son was killed on a battlefield in 1914.

Human suffering, the tragedy of war, poverty, and rebellion by the desperate — these are the main themes of Kollwitz's work, which includes paintings, sculptures and prints.

According to curator Kim Sukmo, Kollwitz was an important influence on contemporary Chinese art. A section of the exhibition features a dialogue between Kollwitz and Chinese artists who studied in art academies in the 1970s. "They had great admiration for Kollwitz and the technique ignited the passion of these Chinese artists," says Kim.

The exhibition is one of a series of shows featuring Expressionism at the museum.

In the neighboring showroom is an exhibition of Italian Expressive Arts in the second half of the 20th century. In the opposite hall is the debut exhibition of Ecuadorian master artist Oswaldo Guayasamin.

Three of the shows feature Chinese artists' works, including leading members of China's contemporary art scene, and pioneering artists exploring Expressionism in ink painting and other media.

German Expressionism since the 1960s is on show at Hall 17. Visitors must buy a separate ticket for the Kollwitz exhibition, which costs 20 yuan ($3.25).


Kaethe Kollwitz exhibition

10 am-6 pm, Tue-Sun, Aug 1-Oct 7, Exhibition Hall 27, China Art Museum Shanghai, 205 Shangnan Road, Pudong, 400-921-9021

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