The biggest Picasso show to ever hit China opened Monday at the China Pavilion in Shanghai. It features over 60 of Picasso's prints, paintings and sculptures including 'The Dream' and 'The Barefoot Girl.' The works range from when Picasso was 14 years old to one year before his death. The most outlandish detail of the opening ceremony consisted of a projected figure made to represent Picasso, who welcomed the guests.
"It's a way for us to educate two or three generations of the Chinese public," the head of the Musee Picasso told AFP regarding the exhibition. It cost around $1.4 million to get the Picassos to the pavilion, organizers felt it was worth the experience of seeing the Spanish painter's works in person.
There is something significant about China's willingness to pay such a hefty sum for an art exhibition, when only in 1980 it was illegal to own or exchange art. Recently, however, there has been a shift toward emphasizing art's cultural merits on a personal and national level. According to the communique, Chinese government has made strides to pursue "outstanding cultural products" because "culture is becoming a fount of national cohesiveness and creativity."
On a more individualized scale, there is an extremely wealthy upper class of China with few places to put that money. Market Watch quotes Anthony Lin, Christie's former Asia chairman, who commented, "For the amount of wealth that has been generated, there’s not many options for investment. The art market is one of the few areas where there is quite a strong investment position being taken."
The Picasso exhibition is thrilling in both what it represents for China and what opportunities it allows its citizens for the first time. Tune in below to see a peek at the show, including the Picasso projection at the welcome party.