It was a strong gesture. In 1964, under the aegis of General de Gaulle and Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, France and China reestablished their diplomatic relations, thus laying the foundations for a policy of cooperation. On the occasion of 60It is anniversary of this event, both countries launch in 2024 the Franco-Chinese year of cultural tourism with, as a result, a program in which all forms of art will be brought together, to discover the cultural heritage of both countries.
This year it opened on January 5th, during the Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, during which a frozen reproduction of Notre-Dame de Paris was installed near the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. It will continue in the Middle Kingdom with an exhibition of the Palace of Versailles in the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City and two of National furniture. French music will be exported with performances by Bordeaux National Opera Ballet and a tour of French musicals. Finally, Chinese audiences will also be able to rediscover French classics, such as Miserable directed by Jean Bellorini AND Scapin Deceptions of the Comédie-Française.
French cultural institutions also organized events highlighting the Chinese cultural scene. This is the case at the Pompidou Center with a group exhibition dedicated to the young contemporary scene. The Guimet museum offers diverse highlights from all artistic periods. For these two institutions, this year is an opportunity to continue the cultural cooperation actions initiated with China.
At the Pompidou Center, reciprocal partnership with Shanghai’s West Bund Museum
In 2019, the Pompidou Center was launched with the West Bund Museum in Shanghai a unique partnershipdifferent from opening an antenna as was the case in Malaga in 2015. “ The idea was to anticipate a trend of cooperation between two institutions placed on the same level rather than wanting to highlight the brand image of the Center Pompidou », explains Paul Frèches, deputy director of the Center Pompidou X West Bund Project and representative of the Center Pompidou in China. Thus, the West Bund Museum, a public museum that depends on a district of the municipality of Shanghai, remains autonomous while benefiting from exchanges with the Parisian institution.
Since the beginning of the cooperation, three semi-permanent exhibitions on time, objects and portraits have been organized, rotating every eighteen months. Each of them presents the collections of the Center Pompidou. “ We try to be, as much as our collections allow us, aligned with the local context and we make a point of integrating as many works as possible that allow the Chinese public to have the keys and the possibility of projecting themselves into history. There is, on the part of the partner, a real expectation of this decentering. The curators who embarked on these projects in Shanghai will end up researching in directions that would not necessarily be obvious », highlights Paul Frèches. The portrait exhibition includes several works by Chinese and Kandinsky retrospective, the first of its kind in the country, includes ancient Chinese bronzes from the Shanghai Museum, which the artist, passionate about the cultures of Asia and the Far East, could have seen in his lifetime. Finally the surrealism exhibition offers the opportunity to make connections with Song Dynasty Chinese painters from nearly a thousand years ago, again with loans of paintings and calligraphy from the Shanghai Museum. The partnership also focuses on mediation with a 400 square meter space for children with exhibitions in the form of adaptations and reproductions of Parisian works. Finally, training courses are delivered by the Center’s teams in Paris to their Chinese counterparts in programming, audience research, international development and even patronage.
This reciprocity in exchanges is found in this Franco-Chinese year of cultural tourism with, from October 9th to February 3rd, 2025, a collective exhibition dedicated to the young Chinese contemporary scene in Pompidou Center. It brings together around twenty emerging artists born or who grew up between the late 1970s and the early 1990s, during the period of opening and reforms that followed the Mao era. “ It is a period of the country’s opening to the outside world and economic development that constituted a particular stage in the history of China in the 20th century.It is century », adds Paul Frèches. Below are those presented twenty years ago during an exhibition to mark the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic exchanges between France and the People’s Republic of China. “ This is another generation with a much more international vision. She makes the connection with those born in the 90s who grew up in a more structured China, with an art market, museums, galleries and the possibility of professionalizing an artist. » Last November, the Center Pompidou X West Bund Museum Project partnership was renewed for five years, always with the aim of deepening the artistic and historical ties between the European and Chinese scenes.
The Guimet museum in Chinese times
At the Guimet Museum, it is a 100% Chinese year approaching. The National Museum of Asian Arts, with around 15,000 works from the Middle Kingdom, organizes several exhibitions that portray the diversity of Chinese art. “ They all have China in common, with a wide variety of themes and types of works: painting, porcelain, goldsmithing, precious objects or statuary. », explains Vincent Billerey, general administrator of the museum.
It is, therefore, a true journey through time that will be carried out by the Parisian museum with a retrospective of the history of the powerful Tang dynasty of the 7th century.It is forIt is century, another on goldsmithing in the Ming court and an exhibition of Chinese porcelain from the 8th centuryIt is on the 18thIt is century focused on color with more than a hundred monochromatic pieces. The establishment will also give pride of place to today’s creators. “ We wanted to bring a contemporary dimension to this programming », continues Vincent Billerey. Thus, as a guiding thread throughout the year, Guimet enlisted the Shanghai artist Jiang Qiong-er for “Gardiens du temps”, a monumental installation that will adorn the museum with large red candles in the midst of which Chinese-inspired mythological figures will emerge, generated by artificial intelligence. Other installations will also be planned at the museum, including a huge net embroidered with inscriptions written by sixty Chinese women in a 3,000-year-old language originally reserved exclusively for women. The auditorium will also host concerts, dance shows, film and documentary screenings.
This year of cooperation will also make it possible to develop attractiveness for Chinese tourists. The museum is beginning important written mediation work to produce room signage systematically translated into Mandarin and is also working on tourism partnerships with operators. It is also strengthening its presence on popular social networks in China: Little Red Book – the Chinese equivalent of Instagram – and Weibo. Guimet ultimately maintains relationships with several museums in China with a proposed agreement with the National Museum of China and the Beijing Palace Museum in the Forbidden City, as well as the Dunhuang Academy.
A special program for the Mobilier national and the Château de Versailles
Mobilier National has also planned a rich program for this French-Chinese year of cultural tourism. The exhibition “Napoleon’s Disappeared Palaces”, organized in 2021 as part of the bicentenary of Napoleon’s death, is initially being exported to two Chinese establishments: the Discover your museum from Beijing and Shanghai. It will evoke the furniture of the Palais des Tuileries, Saint-Cloud and Meudon from the time of Napoleon Bonaparte, in the 18th century.It is and XIXIt is century with ceremonial furniture, works of art and decorative elements of the time. The prestigious Bund 33 in Shanghai will host the exhibition “Le Chic! Decorative arts and French furniture” with works from the 19th century Art Deco National Furniture collectionIt is century. Finally, Mobilier national and the French embassy in China join forces under the arts and crafts residency program in France. Hao Zhenhan, an artist designer based in Jingdezhen, will benefit from a residency to carry out his research project in France and explore domestic factories this spring.
The Palace of Versailles is co-organizing “Versailles and the Forbidden City” with the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City, an exhibition dedicated to the exchanges and mutual inspirations between France and China in the time of Louis XIV and Emperor Kangxi. This event will mark the inauguration of the French-Chinese cultural festival “Croisements 60”.