Taiwan round-up: Belgian Expressionists, Warhol and a new museum in Kaohsiung

Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts opens a year ahead of schedule


Scheduled to open in 1995, the launch party for Kaohsiung’s new fine art museum was on the 12 June, a year earlier than predicted.

An opinion poll carried out in 1979 revealed that 87% of the inhabitants of this industrial city in the south of the island thought that a cultural institution would benefit the region. The local authority earmarked urban wasteland in the Nei Wei Pi area on the outskirts of Kaohsiung in 1985 and so the entire project has only taken nine years from inception to completion; actual building did not start until 1990. The initial capital costs were NT$1 billion sponsored by the Ministry of Education and the Bureau of Public Works.

The museum’s goal under Director Huang Tsai-Lang is to establish an art-history museum that collects the work of local, Southern Taiwanese artists. There will be a permanent collection, consisting mainly of Taiwanese artists’ work and international cultural exchanges in the form of touring and loan exhibitions from overseas; Belgian Expressionism is one of the exhibition briefs for this year.

The museum already has a sizeable collection of black and white Chinese brush paintings, examples of Chinese calligraphy, oil paintings, prints and sculptures. The museum plans to be the first museum in the country to possess a special calligraphy presentation and exhibition space. The planning office of the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Art has already purchased 230 examples of calligraphy for the collection, and the museum now holds 405 historically representative pieces of calligraphy.

In Taipei the Museum of Fine Art continues with its frenetic exhibition programme, scheduling an Andy Warhol retrospective for November this year, to be lent a private collector in America. The museum’s exhibition department also hinted at another major loan exhibition from the United States; The Smithsonian Institution will be lending sculptures by Henry Moore and Giacometti and works by Matisse and Renoir later this year. 1995 marks the seventieth anniversary of the National Palace Museum. The Palace boasts the single largest collection of Chinese artefacts in the world, some 700,000 pieces. The museum’s exhibition curator, Julie Kuang-Shin Chou, told The Art Newspaper that sixty rarely seen objects are to be taken from the museum’s climate-controlled vaults which tunnel into the mountain and put on display throughout 1995. Celebrations will climax on the double tenth (National Taiwan Day), 10 October. Consolidating its links with Western art institutions, the National Museum of History held an international symposium on ancient Chinese trade ceramics last month. A special exhibition has been mounted around the time of the symposium at which 200 porcelains from the British Museum were displayed. The exhibition follows a visit made to the Taipei museum by the director of the British Museum, Dr Robert Anderson. In the words of Dr Anderson: “This exhibition marks another stage in the co-operation between museums in the Far East and Europe".