Give us this day our daily bread
I have just entered the fourth month of the picture-a-day photography project I challenged myself to undertake, this year, and in addition to helping me develop some much needed discipline, it has had the added benefit of making me a more intentional photographer; some days that translates into my choosing a topic before I pick-up a camera and then going out and finding the shot I want for that topic, other days it manifests itself when I see something during my day that reminds me of a classic picture, or artist.
That’s what happened today when I left the chiropractor’s office on Nanjing Xi Lu; I exited through the back of the building where the driveway borders a local neighborhood. It was a warm, sunny morning and the windows in the apartment building across the street were open letting in much needed fresh air (if the air in Shanghai can ever be considered fresh). I spotted this man sitting in the window, smoking a cigarette and reading a book. Instantly my mind thought of this image from my childhood. All these years I was under the impression that it was a painting, but I researched the image and learned that it is a hand-colored, black and white photograph.
“Original” artwork for sale along West Nanjing Road
I seem to be on an art trend; all day yesterday in the China Art Museum and today, immediately upon leaving the chiropractor’s office on West Nanjing Road, I walk past this alley which invites me to visit the time-honored gallery down the lane where, another sign tells me, all the works are original because if they were fake there would be a 100 RMB fine. Uh huh, yeah sure, okay. I also have a bridge in Brooklyn you might be interested in buying.
A young man examines a painting at the China Art Museum’s exhibit of Flemish paintings
Shanghai is breaking out in European art this month with the first ever exhibit of Monet in mainland China and an exhibit of Flemish painting titled “Rubens, Van Dayck and the Flemish School of Painting: Masterpieces from the Collection of the Prince of Liechtenstein.” The China Art Museum is hosting the Rubens’ show and it features almost 100 canvases, prints and tapestries and also includes works by Jan de Cock, Quentin Massys and Jacob Jordaens. Admission to the museum is free, but the show has a separate 20 RMB ($3.23 USD) charge. Despite numerous tour buses parked around the museum there was nothing close to resembling a crowd in the former China Pavilion of Expo 2010, at 1,790,000 sq ft of floor space, it is the largest art museum in Asia.
In addition to the Rubens’ show, the China Art Museum has a permanent collection of modern Chinese art that is enough to bring you back time after time, but before I return, I plan on catching the popular “Master of Impressionism: Claude Monet” show on display at the K11 Art Mall (yes, 40 Monet paintings from the Paris Marmottan Monet Museum are being displayed in the basement–Level B3– of a luxury shopping mall, in Shanghai).