UCCA Beijing

“Adventures with Picasso” Series
Session One


Location:  Auditorium

In conjunction with the exhibition “Picasso – Birth of a Genius,” UCCA presents four weekends of exhibition-related public programs includingpanel discussions, the performing arts, and cinema. The series, titled “Adventures with Picasso,” seeks to introduce audiences to the life and work of the great artist in a variety of different formats. Scholars will discuss the relationship between Picasso and China in a symposium on June 15. The director of Museo Picasso Málaga, poet Xi Chuan, and other experts will discuss Picasso’s Spanish identity, along with his poetry. Two French creative directors under the moniker “I Could Never Be a Dancer,” pianist Gao Ping, percussionist Liu Gang, and the Beijing-based Creative Composers Collective (3C), will create original work inspired by the connection between Picasso’s paintings and his theater collaborations. After learning about the many aspects of Picasso’s artistic practice from experts in the field, audience members will also have anopportunity to catch a glimpse of the artist’s personal history in a set of recordings and documentaries, some of which are being screened for the first time in China.

Picasso – Birth of a Genius

Between June 15 and September 1, 2019, UCCA Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, presents “Picasso – Birth of a Genius,” the most significant exhibition of work by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) ever to take place in China. The exhibition, which offers a comprehensive overview of the first three decades of Picasso’s career, includes 103 works drawn entirely from the collection of the the Musée national Picasso-Paris, which trace Picasso’s development from childhood to middle age. Curated by Emilia Philippot, Head of Collections, Musée national Picasso-Paris, the exhibition has been conceived and organized specifically for this presentation at UCCA and in China, and includes paintings, sculptures, and works on paper. Taken together, this selection of works realized between 1893 and 1921 constitutes the core of the exhibition and tell the story of the creative formation and evolution of the most daring, original, and prolific talent in the history of modern art.
The three decades under consideration here were a period of artistic discovery and ferment for the young Picasso, whose style underwent numerous changes, from the academic realism of his student days to his post-war return to classical style; from the alternately somber and carnivalesque motifs of the Blue and Rose periods to the primitivist explorations which ultimately led to the multiple phases of Cubism. Rather than rigidly separating Picasso’s work into different thematic sections, the exhibition seeks to reaffirm the coexistence of several seemingly contradictory languages in his creative process, and to highlight the lived realities behind them, which exceed the period. This is the reason why theshow also proposes to present subsequent works through 1972. On June 15, UCCA Center for Contemporary Art invites Emilia Philippot to share her unique curatorial concept for theexhibition.


Emilia Philippot (Head of Collections at Musée national Picasso-Paris, curator “Picasso – Birth of a Genius”)

Emilia Philippot is Historian of Art, Curator, and Head of Collections at Musée national Picasso-Paris. She has been working at the Musée national Picasso Paris since 2012, where until 2018 she was responsible for paintings (from 1895 to 1921) and graphic works. She has curated several exhibitions on Picasso, including “Picasso Roman” (Barcelona, 2016), “Olga Picasso”(Paris, Moscow 2017-2018), “Picasso. Bleu et rose” (Paris, 2018), and “Calder-Picasso” (Paris, 2019). She is currently working on an exhibition titled “Picasso and Paper,” which will be presented in London at the Royal Academy, and the Cleveland Museum of Art in Spring 2020.

Picasso in China Symposium

The connection between Picasso and China was established nearly a century ago. His work was praised during the Republican era by Chinese artists studying abroad, and Picasso himself maintained close relationships with Chinese artists Zhang Dingand Zhang Daqian. From the “Storm Society” to the “Stars Art Exhibition,” and from the 1983 exhibition of Picasso’s work at the National Art Museum of China to “Picasso – Birth of a Genius” at UCCA, it is clear that Picasso’s influence has spread ever since his work was first introduced to China in the 1920s. His genius has continued to attract widespread attention, and inspire numerous discussions. In celebration of the opening of the exhibition, UCCA invites both local and overseas researchers of Picasso and modernism to reinterpret and explore Picasso’s artistic practice in order to examine the impact it has had on China, as well as the international contemporary art world.


14:00-14:15 Opening remarks

Moderator: Philip Tinari (Director of the UCCA Center for Contemporary Art)


14:15-16:45 Keynotes

Speaker: Emilia Philippot (Head of Collections at Musée national Picasso-Paris, curator “Picasso – Birth of a Genius”)

Topic: Picasso and Zhang Daqian: The Encounter

In 1956, Picasso and Zhang Daqian had two encounters in Paris. During these two meetings, Picasso showed Zhang his sketches of traditional Chinese ink paintings of flowers and birds, Zhang taught Picasso traditional Chinese paintingtechniques and brushstrokes, and they exchanged gifts. The two meetings expanded Picasso’s understanding of brushstrokes, and influenced his later works.


Speaker: Cai Tao (Associate Professor at the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts)

Topic: Picasso’s Shadow: From the Sino-Japanese War to the Turn in Political Power

This is a belated retrospective. Some Chinese modern artists who have an affinity with Picasso will unfortunately miss this exhibition. However, this exhibition still offers us a rare opportunity. Perspectives in Chinese modern art history are currently being shifted. Modern artists like Zhang Guangyu and Wu Dayu who have long been marginalized despite genuinely understanding Picasso’s work, are now receiving more attention from academics. Although few artists during the Republican era were able to see Picasso’s original work in person, Picasso was considered the quintessential representative Western modern artist besides Cézanne. Discussions related to Picasso can even be used as points of reference for the development of modern Chinese art. Especially after the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War, realism combined with political propaganda became the dominant voice in the world of painting. Western modern art as exemplified by Picasso’s work gradually becamean alternative heresy incompatible with official aesthetics. Liang Xihong, a painter who had studied abroad in Japan, Zhao Shou, and others in Guangzhou began editing the modern art publication Art Magazine in early 1937. The publication was discontinued in July of the same year while they were still planning their final special feature on Picasso. Near the end of Sino-Japanese War, Picasso’s membership in the Communist Party incited debates questioning the values of the art world, with these discussions spreading from Yan’an, Chongqing, and Guangzhou, to Hong Kong. Gao Jianfu, Huang Xinbo, Hu Man, Ni Kuangde, Yang Qiuren were some of the most vocal commentators. As political power shifted, Picasso not only served as the catalyst for some of the most experimental masterpieces in Chinese modern art, but as a member of the French Communist Party, also became involved in a united front that profoundly changed the destiny of modern China.


Speaker: Wu Xueshan (Associate Professor in the Humanities Department at the Central Academy of Fine Arts)

Topic: The “Dove of Peace” and Picasso

Picasso’s Cubist work suffered criticism in socialist countries until the “Dove of Peace” changed everything. The three doves of peace Picasso drew from 1949 to 1952 for the First International Peace Conference spread his name throughout each communist country. The “Dove of Peace” and the idea of utopia inspired by the dove turned Picasso into a model artist, solidifying his image in 1950s China.


Speaker: Wang Luxiang (Researcher at the China National Academy of Painting, Deputy Director of the Center of Zhang Ding Research at Tsinghua University, Chairman of the Li Keran Academy of Painting, Senior Planner and Host for Hong Kong’s Phoenix TV)

Topic: A Meeting Between Picasso and Zhang Ding

Young artist Zhang Ding worshipped Picasso. In 1956, Zhang met with Picasso in the south of France, and they presented gifts to each other. This meeting had an indelible impact on both Picasso and Zhang.


Speaker: Yu Zhongxian (Researcher and PhD Advisor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute of Foreign Literature)

Subject: Painting and Poetry: Interpreting Picasso’s Poetry

Picasso is well known as a painter, but not as a poet, despite the fact that he was a prolific one. Picasso wrote almost daily from 1935 to 1936, and continued to write until 1959. He left more than 350 poems, leaving a body of literary work that cannot easily be categorized. Similar to his paintings, Picasso’s poems are incredibly diverse and experimental.


16:45-18:00 Panel discussion and Q&A


Emilia Philippot (Head of Collections at Musée national Picasso-Paris, curator “Picasso – Birth of a Genius”)

Emilia Philippot is Historian of Art, Curator, and Head of Collections at Musée national Picasso-Paris. She has been working at the Musée national Picasso Paris since 2012, where until 2018 she was responsible for paintings (from 1895 to 1921) and graphic works. She has curated several exhibitions on Picasso, including “Picasso Roman” (Barcelona, 2016), “Olga Picasso”(Paris, Moscow, 2017-2018), “Picasso. Bleu et rose” (Paris, 2018), and “Calder-Picasso” (Paris, 2019). She is currently working on an exhibition titled “Picasso and Paper,” which will be presented in London at the Royal Academy and the Cleveland Museum of Art in Spring 2020.


Cai Tao (Associate Professor at the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts)

Cao Tao has a PhD in Art History from the China Academy of Art, and is currently an associate professor and graduate student advisor at the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts. He previously worked at the Guangdong Museum of Art. His research area includes the history of Chinese modern art and museum studies. In recent years, he has paid particular attention to institutional transformation, and competition between mediums in modern China during periods of war and social upheaval. Exhibitions Cai has curated include “Liang Xihong: Lost Landscape” (2006), “Floating Avant-garde: Chinese Independent Art Society and Modern Art in Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Tokyo in the 1930s” (2007), “Zhao Shou: Surrealist Cross a Century” (2008), “Unbowed Spirit in the Changing World – Retrospective Exhibition of Wang Daoyuan’s Art” (2010), “Fettered Passion: Retrospective Exhibition of Yang Qiuren’s Art” (2010), and “The South: Tan Huamu’s Pictorial Diary” (2018). He was a visiting curator at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Korea in 2009, overseas researcher at the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (Kyoto National Museum Resident Researcher) from 2010 to 2011, and visiting scholar at the Harvard-Yenching Institute from 2011 to 2012. His monograph State and Artist – HuangheTower Murals and Transformations in Chinese Modern Art will be published by Zhongxi Press.


Wu Xueshan (Associate Professor in the Humanities Department at the Central Academy of Fine Arts)

Wu Xueshan studied at Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) until she completed her PhD degree in Art History in 2015. She is now an associate professor in the humanities department at CAFA. Her concentration is in Chinese art history, and in recent years she has dedicated her research to Chinese modern art history and visual culture. Her publications includes Wu Xueshan Research Collections in Chinese Art History (2009), and The Great Wall: Visual Culture During the Sino-Japanese War(2018).


Wang Luxiang (Researcher at the China National Academy of Painting, Deputy Director of the Center of Zhang Ding Research at Tsinghua University, Chairman of the Li Keran Academy of Painting, Senior Strategist and Host for Hong Kong’s Phoenix TV)

Born in Hunan in 1956, Wang Luxiang was admitted to Xiangtan University’s Chinese department in 1978, stayed on for two years after graduating in 1982, continued his studies at Peking University in Chinese art history in 1984, and received a master’s degree in philosophy. He is now a researcher at the China National Academy of Painting, and senior strategist forHong Kong’s Phoenix TV. He has produced shows such as Across China and Cultural Kaleidoscope, and was the host of IFeng Century Forum. He is also a professor and PhD advisor at the Academy of Arts & Design, Tsinghua University, and dean of Beijing’s Fenghuangling Academy.


Institut Français de Chine (SCAC-IFC)

Institut Français de Chine is responsible for implementing policies that share French culture (art, books, film and television), as well as those that focus on language, higher education, and science. Their Culture and Education department organizes Festival Croisements every spring. Having begun in 2006, the festival has become an important overseas event for France, and the largest foreign cultural festival in China.

Institut Français de Pékin

Institut Français de Pékin is under the direct leadership of the Culture and Education Department. As the organizer for a range of cultural events (screening, talks, exhibitions, workshops, reading clubs) that take place in their building, Institut Français de Pékin also houses a multimedia library, and the offices for the Campus France and Alliance Français.

Picasso, the Making of an Icon

Picasso, the Making of an Icon

Year: 2015

Director: Hopi Lebel

Screenplay: Stéphane Guégan

Genre: Documentary

Country: France

Language: English

Runtime: 52 min

Precocious genius, visionary and committed artist, the inventor of modern art, seducer, and patriarch: the image of Pablo Picasso has been in constant evolution since he started out at the Bateau-Lavoir in Montmartre. Focusing on Picasso’s public persona, this documentary traces this exceptionally talented artist’s mastery of mass media, and his role writing his own legend, to the point of subsuming his private life, so that the man and the artist became one. By exploring rare archivalmaterial, including family documents, and with analysis provided by art historians and artist Jeff Koons, a new light is shone upon the world’s most famous painter. Special thanks to Olivier Widmaier Picasso, INA, Seventh Art Productions, and Sinapses Conseils.

Exhibition on Screen: Young Picasso

Exhibition on Screen: Young Picasso

Year: 2019

Director: Phil Grabsky
Genre: Documentary
Country: UK
Language: English
Runtime: 91 min

Pablo Picasso is one of the greatest artists of all time—and right up until his death in 1973, he was the most prolific of artists. Many films have dealt with these later years—the art, the affairs and the wide circle of friends. But where did this all begin? What made Picasso in the first place? Too long ignored, it is time to look at the early years of Picasso; the upbringing and the learning that led to his extraordinary achievements. Three cities play a key role: Malaga, Barcelona, and Paris. Young Picassovisits each of them, and explores their influence on Picasso, focusing on specific artworks from these early years. The film thus explains how this young artist acquired his craft. Looking carefully at two key early periods – the so-called Blue Period and Rose Period—the film takes us all the way to 1907 and the creation of a critical painting in the history of art—Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. It was a painting that shocked the art world but changed it irrevocably. Picasso was only 25 years old. Working closely with all three Picasso Museums in Malaga, Barcelona, and Paris, this film explains how he rose to great heights. Special thanks to Olivier Widmaier Picasso, INA, Seventh Art Productions, and Sinapses Conseils.