Wallpaper's guide to Beijing art districts

Central Academy of Fine Arts - CAFA District

Central Academy of Fine Arts - CAFA District

BEIJING ART DISTRICTS CHINA

Bringing with it cheap flights and artists focused once again on art-making rather than art-marketing, the recession is a great time to plan art jaunts and studio visits. 

If you are interested in exploring the art scene in Beijing, check out  Wallpaper ‘s brief guide which includes an introduction to the Beijing art scene and a map image with links to information about 5 districts (798, Today Art Museum, Central Academy of Fine Arts, Cao Changdi, Liquor Factory). As Meg Maggio, director of Pekin Fine Arts explains to Wallpaper there are in fact many more art districts in Beijing. Read an excerpt below:

Meg Maggio, director Pekin Fine Arts

Meg Maggio, director Pekin Fine Arts

What constitutes an ‘art district’?

In Beijing, any area where artists’ studio spaces start to propagate, galleries, along with both private and public exhibit spaces quickly follow. And hence very simply, art districts are born; more de facto than planned.

How many art districts are there in Beijing?

More than I can count!

How did they develop?

In the city centre, the cost of real estate escalated in the years leading up to the 2008 Olympics. Resulting in an artist exodus to the city outskirts where rents were cheap and bricks and mortar left over from Beijing’s vast Olympic construction plans were in ready supply. Artists’ spaces quickly sprung up all around Beijing’s periphery, in the same way that itinerant worker “villages” quickly sprung up to house construction worker families from far-away provinces. 
Are they supported by the government?

Many start as impromptu housing and work space among artist friends, which then morph if they grow to a sufficient critical mass into an area co-opted by local officials, designated for “culture industry”. Others start as converted warehouse space, due to the make-shift storage facilities needed during the pre-Olympic construction years.

 

 

 

798 District

798 District

 

 

Is there a danger that the more that spring up the less significant they become?

No, Beijing is vast enough to support a large number of artistic communities.

Why are they so focused in Beijing as opposed to any other city?

Beijing is traditionally seen as the capital of Chinese culture, it seems normal and natural for art districts to continue to emanate out from the vast richness of the cultural legacy of the Forbidden City and other imperial arts repositories of Beijing’s ancient city center. Beijing is also a center of learning and education with many of China’s most elite universities including national theatre, film, music and architecture four year under-grad universities and graduate schools located in Beijing. The deep and diverse creative talent pool in Beijing tends to support culture nation-wide.

For rest of interview Meg Maggio click here

Related links:

Wallpaper’s introduction to the Beijing art scene

Wallpaper’s map Beijing art districts

Related posts:

Subscribe to Art Radar Asia for information about art districts in Asia


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