Sunday, January 30, 2011

When in Beijing, Do As the Romans Do

In an unprecedented international art exchange, the governments of China and Italy (Beijing and Rome, respectively) have each announced long-term, loaned installments of the other country's art. Beijing will host Italian art, and Rome will showcase Chinese pieces.

In Rome, at the Palazzo di Venezia, the Chinese government has installed a "state museum of Chinese culture." The new museum has already begun its first exhibit, titled "The Two Empires: the Eagle and the Dragon." It contrasts the histories of the Roman empire with the Chinese Qin and Han Dynasties. The exhibit is part of the Year of China in Italy, where Italy is raising cultural awareness of the country they have enjoyed 40 years of diplomatic ties with.

Image via Heritage Key

Image via Revealed Rome
Image via France 24

In Beijing, in the National Museum of China, the Italian exhibit will show for a five-year period, starting this June. Mario Resca, Italy's director-general for “valorizzazione” (cultural worth) said that "in the next 100 years, this address [on Tiananmen Square] will be the most important in the world, not Fifth Avenue in New York, not London, but Beijing.” This is an interestingly optimistic idea, considering the not-so distant incident in Tiananmen Square.

Tiananmen Square
Image via Asia Explorers

What do you think? Are we ready to shift our focus from New York and London to Beijing? Readiness aside, the shift is occurring as Chinese culture becomes more prominent in the art world (think Chanel's Shanghai show).

Chanel Pre-Fall 2010
Image via

Chinese press have stated that this move will benefit China, bringing more international art into their museum system. When contrasted with China's past isolation, this kind of economic (and artistic) cooperation is really something to take notice of. It raises a question of art's power - can we use it to overcome the past?

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