In Shanghai, hundreds of art lovers lined up at a downtown shopping mall on Saturday to get a glimpse of works by French Impressionist Claude Monet, as the country’s biggest ever exhibition of his paintings has just opened.
By 2 o’clock Saturday afternoon, the screen inside the K11 shopping center on Huaihai Road showed more than 2,000 people had already entered the exhibition, and 800 were waiting in line. Tickets are limited to two per person.
“I came from Hangzhou and arrived just in the morning. I will have to wait for more than three hours. But it’s worthwhile.” Visitor Wen Yue said.
The 40 original Monets include the artist’s childhood cartoons and paintings from the last 40 years of life when he lived and worked at Giverny. The 2-meter tall “Water Lilies” series and 3-meter-long Wisteria are the largest Monet paintings that have ever come to the mainland.
“There is not only one Monet, there are several Monets in perpetual evolution. So they discover the very beginning of impressionism, then the garden of Giverny, and then the final works. All of them are different. And it is representative of what is one of the most important French painters in art history.” Marianne Mathieu, asst. director of Marmottan Monet Museum, said.
“It’s a completely different feeling from any printed publications of Monet’s paintings that I saw in the past. Subtle, delicate, and the powerful expression of colour used inside. I’m really amazed.” Visitor Lin Zhongli said.
The exhibition includes 12 other original paintings from impressionists such as Renoir and three items from Monet’s daily life – glasses, a pipe and color palette. All are from the Marmottan Monet Museum in Paris. The 55 paintings are worth an estimated 600 million euros.
It is rare for an exhibition of such prominent works to be held inside a shopping mall. Organizers say they expect some 5,000 people on the opening day. And some people are having to wait more than two hours to get inside.
Organizers say they chose a shopping mall in order to attract people who don’t usually visit museums. That means taking extra steps for environmental control and security.
“An infrared ray system has been installed. It’s quite sensitive, and will set off an alarm if viewers are too close to the paintings. To better protect the paintings, stable temperatures and humidity are strictly monitored.” Jin Xiaojing, media director of Tix-Media, said.
The exhibition coincides with the 50th anniversary of Sino-French diplomatic relations. It will run until June 15.