Hong Kong added to East Asian tour of masterpieces from London’s National Gallery

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The National Gallery in London will send some of its best-known works by artists such as Caravaggio, Titian and Raphael to Hong Kong later this year. The exhibition Botticelli to Van Gogh: Masterpieces from the National Gallery is currently on show at the Shanghai Museum on Tuesday and will head afterwards to the National Museum of Korea in Seoul (2 June-9 October); it will travel to the Hong Kong Palace Museum in the city’s West Kowloon Cultural District in November (15 November-4 March 2024).

The show was announced at a press briefing today by Louis Ng, the director of the Hong Kong Palace Museum, who described the exhibition as the “National Gallery in miniature”. The Shanghai show includes key loans such as Boy Bitten by a Lizard by Caravaggio (around 1594-95) and Van Gogh’s Long Grass with Butterflies (1890).

The art historian Bendor Grosvenor recently discussed the National Gallery’s decision to send many of its major pieces on a substantial Asia tour ahead of a £35m refurbishment, saying: “After Covid, it could have been a great boon to regional museums hoping to reconnect with their audiences. Instead, 52 of the masterpieces displaced by the building works have gone on display in Shanghai, where they’ll be earning the gallery an income. The gallery says it needs the money to be as self-financing as possible. I asked how much revenue was being generated by renting out these publicly owned works but was told that was confidential.”

Meanwhile, officials at M+ museum in Hong Kong announced that the blockbuster show Yayoi Kusama: 1945 to Now will travel to Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao (27 June-8 October). The artist, who is now in her 90s and voluntarily living in a psychiatric hospital, told us earlier this year: “I do not feel the difference between my earlier creation and now. I never run out of ideas so I shall continue to show new things”.

The show at M+ (until 14 May), which contains three new works including Death of Nerves (2022), is billed as the largest retrospective of the artist’s work in Asia outside Japan.

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