Since the opening of MOCA Shanghai and Zendai MOMA in 2005 and the art fair ShContemporary in 2007, three new art spaces, including two art museums and a “warehouse-style museum,” arrived in Shanghai in 2010 to further enliven the city’s contemporary art scene.

The three new Shanghai art spaces we profile below are:

  • Rockbund Art Musuem
  • Minsheng Art Museum
  • ShanghART Taopu Warehouse

Rockbund Art Museum

In the early 1900s, the Shanghai Museum at 20 Upper Yuen Ming Yuen Road was the home of collections of natural specimens and Chinese cultural artefacts. Today, restored and newly expanded under the aesthetic guidance of British architect David Chipperfield, it is the site of Rockbund Art Museum (RAM), an international platform for the promotion and exchange of contemporary art.

Click here to read more about David Chipperfield’s involvement in the Rockbund Project at Designboom.

“Thinking creatively to carry forward the cultural heritage of the Bund, it endeavours to integrate art, design and innovation into an aesthetic space for a new Shanghai lifestyle,” explains the RAM’s mission statement. Since its opening in May 2010, RAM has hosted three major art exhibitions that together attracted over thirty thousand visits. Descriptions of the three exhibitions can be found on the museum’s online blog. We provide excerpts for you below:

Cai Guo-Qiang, 'Peasant Da-Vincis', 2010, Rockbund Art Museum. Image courtesy

Cai Guo-Qiang, "Peasant Da-Vincis", 2010, Rockbund Art Museum. Image courtesy

Cai Guo-Qiang, 'Peasant Da Vincis', 2010, Rockbund Art Museum. Image courtesy

Cai Guo-Qiang, "Peasant Da Vincis", 2010, Rockbund Art Museum. Image courtesy

“Cai Guo-Qiang: Peasant Da-Vincis”

The inaugural exhibition… features inventions by nine peasants from eight provinces in China, which showcases in the form of “cultural readymades” the creativity of ordinary people. Works in the exhibition include planes, submarines, robots and flying saucers designed and created by farmers, inventions commissioned by Cai and works made by the artist himself. The exhibition also includes the screening of two documentary films on inventions and space explorations by a former USSR and Romanian director respectively. By presenting works of a variety of media and perspectives, the show aims to recognize the capability, courage and ideals of peasant inventors across the nation.

“2010. Zeng Fanzhi”

One of the leading figures in Chinese contemporary art, Zeng Fanzhi enjoys an international reputation for his paintings of great tension. Curated by Professor Wu Hung, a renowned art historian with Chicago University, this exhibition of paintings, sculptures and installations consists of three parts. The first part is composed of Zeng’s recent paintings, such as a ten-meter-long oil painting stretching all across the gallery on the second floor, the largest painting ever created by the artist. The second part is composed of the first sculptures by Zeng, featuring images of animals and metaphors on death and relics, which showed visitors a new dimension of the artist. The third part is a large spatial installation in a neighboring church that was resorted only recently from its almost wrecked condition. The artist created mock stained-glass artworks on the windows of the Union Church that referred to his early paintings, adding multiple layers of meanings to these works through his innovative use of the environment and medium.

“By Day, By Night, or Some (Special) Things a Museum Can Do”

Curated by the renowned curator Mr. Hou Hanru, the exhibition brought together nine artists from China and several other nations and focuses on different forms of contemporary art in a public space, presenting ideas on the new functions and social role of an art museum. The artists studied and explored the history and reality of both the city of Shanghai and the Rockbund Art Museum and based their works on their own cultures and experiences. All of them also incorporated features of the exhibition space into their experimental works, producing site-specific art for this exhibition.

Minsheng Art Museum

Opening in April 2010, Minsheng Art Museum greeted the art world with an official opening titled “Thirty Years of Chinese Contemporary Art, 1979-2009” that took the form of a fascinating exhibition showcasing one hundred paintings that chronicle artistic development in China since reform. Speaking to China Daily, President of Minsheng Art Museum He Juxing said that “We aim to let audience review the historic development process of China’s contemporary art by displaying works from more than 80 artists.”

Minsheng Art Museum in Shanghai. Image courtesy of Minsheng Art Museum.

Minsheng Art Museum in Shanghai. Image courtesy Minsheng Art Museum.

Located in the Redtown International Art Community, the Museum boasts five exhibition halls among other facilities such as a literature reading room, an art bookshop, and a café. It is sponsored and funded by the China Minsheng Banking Corporation, and identifies itself as a non-profit organisation that aims at promoting communication and cooperation between Chinese contemporary art and international art trends.

Zhang Enli at Minsheng Art Museum. Image courtesy of Minsheng Art Museum.

Zhang Enli at Minsheng Art Museum. Image courtesy Minsheng Art Museum.

Currently on display at Minsheng Art Gallery is a solo exhibition featuring large-scale leaf oil paintings by Zhang Enli, curated by Guo Xiaoyan, and “Other Rooms”, a minimal group exhibition featuring Martin Creed, Fischli & Weiss, Adrian Piper and Dora Garcia, curated by Philippe Pirotte.

Zhou Tiehai, executive president of the museum, said to China Daily that Minsheng expects to hold a series of exhibitions on Chinese contemporary art in the coming three years, including a photography show in May 2011 and a sculpture show in May 2012.

ShangART Taopu Warehouse

ShangART Gallery, one of China’s most influential art institutions, has opened a new art space at Shanghai M50 West. ShangART Taopu Warehouse claims to be “the first warehouse-style art museum in China.” In the press release for its inauguration in October 2010, the 3000-square-metre space is described to be “a warehouse complex with functions for storage and show room, education and research, and exhibition and project, which intends to explore new possibilities on how to use space more reasonably for display, preservation, study, and education of contemporary art.”

Exterior view of ShangART Taopu Warehouse. Image courtesy of ShangART Gallery.

Exterior view of ShangART Taopu Warehouse. Image courtesy ShangART Gallery.

Exterior view of ShangART Taopu Warehouse. Image courtesy of ShangART Gallery.

Exterior view of ShangART Taopu Warehouse. Image courtesy ShangART Gallery.

ShanghART Gallery was founded in 1996 in Shanghai and has since become a vital player in the development of the Chinese contemporary art scene, with spaces in Shanghai and Beijing and representing over forty artists. Its founder, Lorenz Helbling who moved to Shanghai from Switzerland in 1995, spoke to the New York Times on changes he has witnessed in the city:

“In 1996, when we opened, anything more than a painting in a hotel gift shop was considered exotic. … There was only one art museum, and only one art show every few months.”

“It was a totally different world. It was a totally different city. The ring road had just opened and Pudong, [a major expressway and the financial district], didn’t exist. … It was only in the ’90s that Shanghai really started building highways and skyscrapers.”

Interior of ShangART Taopu Warehouse. Image courtesy of ShangART Gallery.

Interior view of ShangART Taopu Warehouse. Image courtesy ShangART Gallery.

Interior view of ShangART Taopu warehouse. Image courtesy of ShangART Gallery.

Interior view of ShangART Taopu Warehouse. Image courtesy ShangART Gallery.

Presently on display at Taopu is a group exhibition featuring Chinese contemporary artists such as Wang Guangyi, Shen Fan, Shi Qing, and Shi Yong, among others.


Related Topics: Shanghai, art spaces, Chinese artists

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By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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