Uli Sigg has donated his large collection of contemporary Chinese art to the M+ Museum in Hong Kong. The collection documents Chinese contemporary art from the 1970s onward and will be a significant boon to the new museum.

Swiss collector of Chinese contemporary art Uli Sigg.

According to a press release sent out on 12 June 2012, the Sigg Collection contains 1,463 works of contemporary Chinese art from 350 artists, including Ai Weiwei, Zhang Xiaogang, Xu Bing and Hong Kong artist Lee Kit. Combined, the works are conservatively estimated at HKD1.3 billion (USD163 million). In addition to the donation, the M+ Museum will purchase 47 works valued at CHF22 million (USD22.9 million) from Uli Sigg, demonstrating their commitment to the collection.

The Sigg Collection is widely regarded as the “largest, most comprehensive and most important collection” of contemporary Chinese art in the world. The collection is especially important as a historical ‘document’ of one of the most culturally dynamic periods in modern Chinese history. In the press release, Sigg mentioned his historical aims in collecting Chinese contemporary art. “I decided […] to collect like an institution would: documenting the art production of China from day one to today – along the timeline, across all media, rather than according to my personal taste as a private collector would,” he said, “I set out to create that ‘document’ about Chinese contemporary art that is missing in China, and missing outside as well.”

Lars Nittve, Executive Director of the M+ Museum, recognised Sigg’s success in creating an unparalleled documentation of Chinese cultural history. “The period 1979 – 2009 in China is a unique moment in art history,” he said, “Given both the fact that many works, especially from the first ten years of this period were destroyed due to lack of interest from collectors and institutions and the subsequent boom in the market for these works, it would be impossible to now build a collection similar in depth, scope and quality.”

The donation puts the M+ Museum and the West Kowloon Cultural District one large step closer to becoming a world-class contemporary art hub. The museum, which is set to open in 2017, aims to present Hong Kong, Chinese and Asian art, design, architecture and film from the 20th and 21st centuries for a Hong Kong perspective. Sigg shares the museum’s ethos to public service and local cultural development. “This is my contribution: to enable these artists to have a space within M+ where they will communicate with an international audience, and where they will meet with a Chinese public.”


Related Topics: Uli Sigg, Lars Nittve, museum collections, museums, art in Hong Kong

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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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