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Museum Acquisitions: Yan Pei-Ming enters The Uffizi Galleries

Autoportrait 2022, oil on canvas by Chinese artist Yan Pei-Ming, represented in Italy by blue-chip gallery MASSIMODECARLO, has been added to the prestigious collection of artists’ self-portraits of The Uffizi Galleries.

The donation from the artist was officially presented last 4th of July by The Uffizi’s Museum Director Eike Schmidt.

Born in Shanghai in 1960, educated in Dijon and Rome, living in Dijon, the artist is best known for large-scale portraits - whose models are images taken from different sources (photographs, newspaper covers or stills from video) - using a simplified palette of red, white and black: his expressive and monochrome thick strokes render in the same tone historical figures, politics and celebrities, allowing him to focus on the essential and on the universal.

Yan Pei-Ming’s largest exhibition ever, Painting Histories, is currently taking place at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence displaying a selection of historical paintings alongside new works specifically conceived for this occasion.

Exceptionally including over 2000 paintings, sculptures and drawings, never interrupted and still fully active, the Uffizi collection of artists’ self-portraits was systematically started around 1650 by Leopoldo de’ Medici (1617-1675) as a prestigious iconography to display passion, engagement and erudition in the field of painting, with an invitation to his trusted agents to give priority to the works of contemporary artists, and to trust quality and authenticity (as reported by the scholar Anna Maria Procajlo in the article Leopoldo De’ Medici's systematic search for “ritratto fatto di sua propria mano”, Imagines, Uffizi Magazine, May 2020) .

When Leopoldo died, Gran Duke Cosimo III de’ Medici ordered rooms to be set up at the Uffizi to display the collection of his late uncle previously hosted at Palazzo Pitti and moved on with scientific cataloguing and new acquisitions.

Quantity, quality and prestige of collected artworks continued to grow and, by the 18th century, it became a privilege for the artists themselves to donate a self-portrait to the Uffizi, a tradition that is going on.

The public will now have the opportunity to enjoy Pei-Ming’s painting in a new permanent exhibition space including 12 additional rooms on the first floor of the museum, in dialogue with a selection of remarkable self-portraits coming from the Vasari Corridor and the storage rooms: Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Eugène Delacroix, Antonio Canova, Chagall, Yayoi Kusama, Maria Lassnig, Joseph Beuys, Ai-Weiwei and Antony Gormley just to name a few.

A very emotional journey.

As Yan Pei-Ming says: “In my opinion, the individual is the essence of humanity. A portrait allows the individual and their time period to be seen.”

Further information here:

Yan Pei-Ming, Autoportrait, 2022. Oil on canvas, 100 x 81 cm © Yan Pei-Ming, ADAGP, Paris, 2023.

© The Uffizi Galleries

© The Uffizi Galleries

© The Uffizi Galleries

© The Uffizi Galleries


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