UCCA presents masterpieces from the Collection of Museum Berggruen in Shanghai


Paul Klee, Child’s Play, 1939.jpg

Paul Klee, Child’s Play, 1939.

Watercolor and paint mixed with paste on cardboard, 43 × 32 cm

Museum Berggruen, Nationalgalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

NG MB 144/2000 

Photograph by bpk / Nationalgalerie, SMB, Museum Berggruen / Jens Ziehe

From June 22 to October 8, 2023, UCCA is collaborating with Berlin’s Museum Berggruen to present “Modern Time: Masterpieces from the Collection of Museum Berggruen / Nationalgalerie Berlin” at UCCA Edge in Shanghai. The exhibition features nearly 100 pieces by modern masters Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Paul Klee (1879-1940), Henri Matisse (1869-1954), Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966), Paul Cézanne (1839-1906), and Georges Braque (1882-1963), each carefully selected from Museum Berggruen’s unparalleled collection. Shown in China for the first time, these works by the six artists span painting, sculpture, paper cut-outs, and other media, allowing viewers to experience the development of modern art through styles such as Fauvism, Cubism, and Surrealism. One of Europe’s leading museums of modern art, Museum Berggruen is a member of the Nationalgalerie and the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (the Berlin State Museums). “Modern Time” marks the third stop of Museum Berggruen’s international exhibition tour following its debut in Tokyo and subsequent installment in Osaka, and the first time the touring exhibition has been organized along chronological lines. Following its display at UCCA Edge, the exhibition will travel to UCCA Beijing, where it will run from November 11, 2023, to February 25, 2024.

“Modern Time” invites viewers on a walk through the history of twentieth century art, offering a close-up view of the creative processes and thinking of six major figures. The Chinese translation of the exhibition title aptly references the idea of a leisurely stroll, promising an excursion that reveals the diverse artistic approaches and radical transformations found under the umbrella of Modernism. The exhibition is organized in strict chronology according to the completion of each work, rather than in thematic or artist sections. It thus introduces in sequence the new developments that marked the flourishing of creativity in Europe during the first half of the twentieth century. With 40 works by Picasso, “Modern Time” provides an all-encompassing overview of 8 decades of his artistic career. Also on view are over 30 works by Klee, made in his creatively fertile period following the end of World War I, and more than 10 pieces by Matisse, including classic paper cut-outs which showcase the artist at the height of his powers in the later years of his career. In addition, the exhibition will highlight works by Braque and Giacometti, along with those of Cézanne, one of the key figures of modern art, who had an enormous impact on all of the aforementioned artists.

The works on display in the exhibition are from the collection of the Museum Berggruen, which takes its name and owes its origins to the legendary art dealer and collector Heinz Berggruen (1914-2007). Berggruen was a close confidant of Picasso and other artists, and throughout his life built an unmatched collection of modern art. Today that collection forms the core of Museum Berggruen’s holdings. UCCA is honored to welcome art from this priceless collection to China as part of the ongoing international exhibition tour which began at The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, and The National Museum of Art, Osaka. Following the two stops at UCCA museums in China, in autumn 2024 the exhibition will travel to Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris for its final installment. UCCA and Museum Berggruen are excited to work closely together to share this veritable feast of modern art with audiences in China and foster further Sino-European cultural exchange.

“Modern Time” is among a number of recent major UCCA exhibitions focused on major modern artists, which seek to locate the roots of the contemporary in the modern. Artworks by Picasso in the exhibition expand the exploration of the artist’s career begun by the 2019 UCCA Beijing exhibition “Picasso – Birth of a Genius,” while pieces by Matisse provide a broader perspective on the artist at the heart of “Matisse by Matisse,” another upcoming 2023 exhibition. Furthermore, “Modern Time” compliments artistic discussions sparked by other recent exhibitions in Shanghai, such as “Botticelli to Van Gogh: Masterpieces from the National Gallery” at the Shanghai Museum. Audiences may move from Renaissance art and Impressionism to the experimental spirit of twentieth century Modernism, experiencing half a millennia of European art history without leaving the city.  

Gabriel Montua, Head of Museum Berggruen and exhibition co-curator, comments, “I am very excited to see how the works from Museum Berggruen’s collection, all on view in China for the very first time, will be appreciated by local audiences. This is a great honor and we at Museum Berggruen can learn a lot from the reaction of visitors who see these works with fresh eyes and with a different visual heritage in their minds. I am very grateful to UCCA and its director Philip Tinari for this unique and wonderful cooperation.”

UCCA Director and CEO Philip Tinari notes, “UCCA is extremely grateful and excited to be able to present this body of work to viewers in China. That this collection, some two decades after finding its place in a rich constellation of German state museums, can travel in its near entirety to the other side of the world is something worthy of celebration, particularly at a moment when such motion and the dialogue across eras and cultures that it sparks feel more urgent than ever.”

“Modern Time: Masterpieces from the Collection of Museum Berggruen / Nationalgalerie Berlin” is curated by Klaus Biesenbach, Director of Neue Nationalgalerie, Gabriel Montua, Head of Museum Berggruen, and Veronika Rudorfer, curator at Museum Berggruen, and is presented in collaboration with UCCA.

About Museum Berggruen / Nationalgalerie Berlin

As a member of Nationalgalerie and the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (the Berlin State Museums), Museum Berggruen is one of the most important museums of modern art in Europe, world-renowned for its numerous outstanding exhibitions and its impressive collection of notable works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Paul Klee, and Alberto Giacometti. 

Museum Berggruen owes its name and origin to the art dealer and collector Heinz Berggruen (1914-2007). Heinz Berggruen began collecting art and opened his first art gallery in Paris in 1948, gradually building a world-leading private collection. In 1996, he was invited to present his collection in his hometown of Berlin, housed in the western Stülerbau opposite Charlottenburg Palace, known at that time as the Berggruen Collection. In the year 2000, the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage) managed to purchase the collection for the Nationalgalerie with funding from the German government and the state of Berlin. In 2004 it was renamed as the Museum Berggruen. After the death of Heinz Berggruen in 2007, his family agreed to make additional works available to the Nationalgalerie as permanent loans and to continue supporting the museum. Museum Berggruen is currently undergoing a three-year extensive renovation to improve visitor experience, with plans to reopen in 2025.

About the Exhibition

Dates: 2023.6.22 - 2023.10.8

Venue: UCCA Edge

Courtesy of UCCA.