SHANGHAI — Fondation Cartier has unveiled the exhibition “A Beautiful Elsewhere” here, the first time it has exhibited its collection in mainland China.
The exhibition runs until July 29 at the Power Station of Art, the first state-run museum dedicated to contemporary art in mainland China. The Fondation Cartier collection includes around 1,500 contemporary artworks by more than 350 artists from around the world, mainly housed in its Parisian building, designed by Jean Nouvel. The Shanghai exhibition has borrowed a selection of 100 key works from the larger collection, and has included the work of emerging Chinese contemporary artists.
The show has been three years in the making, and was spearheaded by Hervé Chandès, general director of the Fondation Cartier; Fei Dawei, Chinese-born art critic and exhibition curator, and Gong Yan, director of the Power Station of Art. Open to all, the exhibition bills itself as “an invitation to travel.”
Cyrille Vigneron, Cartier International chief executive officer, was in Shanghai for the launch of the exhibition and shared his strong belief that art should be an open body of work available to the entire world. “It has been more and more commonly accepted that companies can have a participation in the art world. [They] can invest, can support, can develop. It is even part of their, I would say, social responsibility to give back and to have some activities that are meaningful for the community, including arts. So, many companies around the world have done that,” he said.
Three young Chinese contemporary artists were commissioned by the exhibition organizers to create work for the show, as part of the foundation’s commitment to support emerging talent. Gao Shan, Hu Liu and Li Yongbin have the opportunity to showcase their work alongside well-established Chinese artists Cai Guo-Qiang and Huang Yong Ping, who are already celebrated on the international contemporary art scene.
“Cai Guo Qiang was one of the first artists in residence in the 1980s in the Fondation Cartier, before he came to be world famous,” the ceo said. “Yue Min Jun had the first retrospective of his work in Europe at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain. So, some very important Chinese artists have been present in Paris. Saying that, it was important to say, let’s go and have a deeper relationship with the artist community here, which is already very broad and very vivid.
“There is increased interest in China from a Chinese audience in general about cultural matters. After more than a decade, or almost two decades now, of the growth of luxury companies in China [there are] expectations about showing more than just products,” he continued. “So there is this exhibition now. It has nothing to do with the business agenda. But it is a way to say what we stand for and our view on the world or our view on the collaboration with artists, what artists say and tell us about how the world is changing.”
Cartier already held the Résonances de Cartier high jewelry exhibition at the beginning of the year, which saw around 2,000 guests queue up one day to catch a glimpse of more than 400 Cartier high-jewelry items. The luxury brand also plans to hold a Beijing Palace Museum exhibition next year, focusing on restoration and renovation.
“The fact is to be more inclusive, to show more about what we do, to invite more and more people to appreciate that beauty, to also invite them to have a cultural part of all the inspiration and all the stories behind, I think can give a better view of what the brand stands for,” Vigneron said. “What the maison is about. I think there is a need in China today to find historical roots, art in general, culture, story and depth.”