SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- China's overseas travelers are showing a growing interest in art museums while Chinese collectors are becoming more important in the international art market, said an art expert here Friday.
"What's interesting is there's a new interest in Western art that is developing in China," said Thomas Campbell, director and CEO of Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the largest public art institution in Northern California.
"We are conscious that Chinese audiences are the fastest growing sector," he told Xinhua a day before the opening of the exhibition "Monet: The Late Years" at de Young Museum, a part of the fine arts museum.
The three-month exhibition features 50 original paintings of the French Impressionist master Claude Monet. "Monet is one of the greatest artists of all time, and certainly one of the most influential artists in the modern era. His work is spread widely throughout the world. You have to travel all over the world to see this number of paintings," said Campbell.
Monet is among the best-known Western art masters in China. In recent years, there is an unprecedented demand in China for Monet exhibitions.
The first major such show took place in Shanghai in 2014, drawing more than 350,000 visitors. Since then, a number of exhibitions of the artist have been organized in Chinese cities from north to south, such as Shenyang, Wuhan and Chengdu.
In 2017,a painting of his beloved water lilies series attracted more than 150,000 visitors to an exhibition in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan in southwest China.
The Monet show to open at San Francisco, where several paintings will be seen for the first time in the United States, is a unique opportunity for Chinese tourists to understand modern Western art. "Chinese visitors will get an extraordinary rich exposure to one of the most important artists of the 20th century," said Campbell.
"In these works, you see Monet going from representational impressionism into abstract realm, and the experiment with lights and color that we see in these works really laid a foundation for abstract art later in 20th century," he said.
Western masterpieces have also proved a big hit for Chinese investors who have, in several high-profile deals in recent years, snapped up works from masters like Monet, Austrian symbolist painter Gustav Klimt, and Amedeo Clemente Modigliani, an Italian Jewish painter and sculptor who worked mainly in France in the 19th century.
"I think it's very interesting to see that Chinese collectors who traditionally have been focused on historic, modern and contemporary Chinese art have now become big players in the international art market," said Campbell.
"The figures for the big auction houses show the Chinese are among the biggest buyers, and the art market has become truly global," he added. "The Chinese buyers are an increasingly important element in that development."