Thousands of visitors waited patiently for hours in Shanghai to be “shown the Monet” and view the French master’s work at an exhibition that opened on March 8.
The K11 Art Mall, host of the exhibition, imposed strict safety measures and a maximum entry limit of 3,500 visitors a day. Security guards were posted every 10 metres from the ticket entrance to the underground exhibition hall, and more than 100 volunteers provided help and guidance.
“We anticipated and prepared for large numbers at the opening and expect it to continue for the next few months,” the organisers said in a press release. The exhibition continues until June 15, and more than 60,000 bookings have been made online.
Zhang Liu, a teacher in Shanghai, visited on Monday and was surprised how efficiently it was organised. It took no more than 10 minutes from getting a ticket to viewing the masterpieces of the Impressionist master.
“It was very smooth – really beyond my expectations,” she said, though some visitors took photos despite being told not to. “There were clear signs in the hall telling visitors not to take photos, and while most didn’t, some visitors ignored the signs.”
Exhibition staff instructs visitors against taking photos. No photography is allowed for copyright protection and also because camera flashes can damage the surface of the painting.
The Monet exhibition features 40 works along with 15 paintings by other leading Impressionists. This is the first major Monet exhibition on the Chinese mainland and includes his iconic, two-metre-tall “Water Lilies” series and the three-metre-long “Wisteria”.
All the paintings are from the Marmottan Monet Museum in Paris, says Marianne Mathieu, its assistant director. The Shanghai exhibition has about half of the French museum’s paintings on display. “The museum has more than 100 Monet paintings donated by his son and family members,” she says.
Impressionism was originally a term of disparagement used by art critics, but Monet (1840-1926) appropriated the term. The style, which depicts the changing features of light rather than portraying a subject in exact detail, takes its name from the title of a Monet work, “Impression, Sunrise”.
This painting provoked the critic Louis Leroy to coin the term in a satirical review published in the Parisian newspaper Le Charivari.