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"Picassos for China": a print exhibition kicked off at Sackler Museum

Peking University, Dec. 1, 2014 : The “Picassos for China: Masters of Western Print-Making” exhibition opened on the afternoon of November 21 at Arthur Sackler Museum of Peking University. The exhibition will run from November, 2014 to May, 2015. This year’s exhibition is the 7th annual western art exhibition at the university museum sponsored by Professor Donald Stone from the English Department. He has donated to the museum around 320 artistic items, most of which are prints.

“Every penny that I can save goes to these pictures,” said Professor Stone in the introductory talk before the opening ceremony. His donation to the Arthur Sackler museum began in 2006, the very year when he started to teach Victorian literature at PKU. He said that his collection depended not just on money, but also on time and luck. “I’m lucky more often than I am not,” the professor remarked after he related how a Jewish art dealer insisted on offering him a generous discount after she knew that he was collecting artworks for a museum in China, the only country in the world which had willingly protected the Jewish refugees during the Second World War.


Professor Stone was delivering the introductory address. [Photo/The Arthur Sackler Museum of PKU]

Professor Stone humorously referred to the day as “a black Friday”, since the preparation for the ceremony had caused him considerable stress. As the donor and one of the organizers, he had been working under great pressure for the exhibition for two months together with the museum staff and student volunteers from the School of Archeology and Museology and School of Foreign Languages. The exhibition posters and souvenir bookmarks are all designed by the students. At the opening ceremony, the professor expressed his gratitude to them and invited each to come forward in front of the audience to shake hands with him or her.


Professor Stone was signing his autograph on the souvenir bookmarks for their designer, an undergraduate from the School of Archeology and Museology. [Photo/The Arthur Sackler Museum of PKU]

At the ceremony, Professor Wu Zhipan, Vice President of PKU, Professor Wang Youping from the School of Archeology and Museology, and Professor Cheng Zhaoxiang, Dean of the School of Foreign Languages, all acknowledged Professor Stone’s generosity and his substantial contributions to the university. Mr. Wang Long, a representative from the Minghe Archeology Club, provided an art collection fund to Professor Stone, hoping that the fund could facilitate his future collection for the university museum.

Mr. Wang Long was presenting the donation-check to Professor Stone at the opening ceremony. [Photo/The Arthur Sackler Museum of PKU]

This year’s exhibition features woodcuts, etchings, lithographs and aquatints by major western modernist artists such as Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Marc Chagall. Artworks from France, Spain, Russia, America and Slovenia are also on display. Since the donor is a literature scholar, many of the exhibits are illustrations for literary works. The artworks on view include Chagall’s etchings for Gogol’s Dead Souls , The Fables of La Fontaine and the Bible and Picasso’s etchings for Buffon’s Histoire Naturelle and the poems of Gongora.


A young woman was looking at a Matisse etching of a lady and a pottery figurine of a lady-in-waiting. [Photo/Chen Jiayu]

Also, in order to show the difference, and more importantly, the commonality between artists, which may transcend time and space, the organizers place Picasso’s “Le Cheval” (“The Horse”) alongside a Northern Wei Dynasty pottery horse and put Matisse’s “The Woman Leaning on Her Arm” next to a Tang Dynasty pottery statuette of a lady-in-waiting.

Reported by: Chen Jiayu
Edited by: Yan Shengnan