12 June 2012
Major Collection Donation to West Kowloon Cultural District
M+ receives world's best collection of Chinese contemporary art from Uli Sigg
The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA) announced today a donation of 1,463 Chinese contemporary artworks to the permanent collection of M+, Hong Kong's future museum for visual culture opening in 2017. The collection donation, conservatively valued at HKD1.3 billion, has been made by Dr Uli Sigg of Switzerland, the world's leading collector of Chinese contemporary art.
The Sigg Collection is universally recognised as the largest, most comprehensive and most important collection in the world of Chinese contemporary art from the 1970s to the present. Consisting of works by 350 artists - many of which are large-scale paintings or full room installations, it has been systematically built as a coherent museum-quality collection since the early 1990s, representing the historical development of contemporary art in China as a whole.
The collection comprises major works by leading artists, among them Ai Weiwei, Ding Yi, Fang Lijun, Geng Jianyi, Gu Wenda, Huang Yongping, Liu Wei, Wang Guangyi, Xu Bing, Yang Shaobin, Yue Minjun, Yu Youhan, Zeng Fanzhi, Zhang Peili, Zhang Xiaogang, as well as Hong Kong artists Lee Kit and Pak Sheung-chuen, and many younger generation artists.
Dr Sigg has donated the majority of his Chinese contemporary art collection to M+. The donation has been conservatively valued at HKD1.3 billion by the world-renowned auction house, Sotheby's. Under a part gift/ part purchase agreement, M+ acquired a further 47 works from Dr. Sigg's collection for the sum of CHF 22 million (HKD177 million). Part gift/ part purchase is an increasingly common international model for museums to obtain collections.The main aspect of this model is that the museum clearly shows its commitment to the collection.
Mr Michael Lynch, Chief Executive Officer of the WKCDA, expressed wholehearted gratitude to Dr Sigg for his selfless dedication to art and faith in M+ as the long-term home for his rich collection. He said, "Thanks to Dr Sigg's generosity, today we have achieved a significant step forward in making WKCD a world class arts hub where contemporary art will flourish."
Dr Lars Nittve, Executive Director of M+ said, "We are thrilled by the generous donation of this outstanding body of work to the permanent collection of M+. Dr Sigg set out to build a museum-quality national collection of global significance. The period 1979 - 2009 in China is a unique moment in art history. 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."
Dr Uli Sigg said, "In the early 90s I realised that nobody was collecting Chinese contemporary art even remotely systematically - neither individuals nor institutions in China or abroad. That seemed odd for the biggest cultural space in the world, and for what will be in hindsight a very important period. So I decided to change my approach and 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. I set out to create that 'document' about Chinese contemporary art that is missing in China, and missing outside as well."
"By joining forces with M+, the art works will ultimately come full circle back to China as I have always hoped they would. My intention is to return something to China for what it has allowed me to experience over the last 33 years: an incredible journey, whose most intense core has been formed by so many encounters with Chinese artists. 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. Having explored various opportunities, I am convinced that there will be no better platform for my collection and for Chinese contemporary art than that which M+ can provide," Dr Sigg added.
The donation and purchase were approved by the WKCDA Board today. The Board also approved the setting up of a trust to hold the collection. The collection will be displayed in dedicated galleries when M+ opens in 2017. Starting this year M+ will also be engaged with the Chinese Contemporary Art Award, founded by Uli Sigg in 1997, and the CCAA Art Critic Award.
M+, opening in 2017, as part of the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD), will be the museum for visual culture in Hong Kong, focusing on 20th- and 21st- century art, design, architecture and the moving image from a Hong Kong perspective, expanding to other regions of China, Asia and the rest of the world. With its ambition to become a world-class museum, M+ aims to build a world-class collection of Hong Kong, Chinese and Asian visual culture. The scale of the building, at around 60,000 square metres, will be on par with the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It is a project with a strong public service ethos, and is conceived as a museum for Hong Kong and Asia, firmly rooted in the location and its unique culture.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
Uli Sigg, born 1946, grew up in Switzerland. He completed his studies with a Ph.D. from the University of Zurich Law Faculty. He then worked as journalist and editor for various Swiss newspapers and magazines. From 1977 to 1990 he joined the Schindler Group where he held positions as Area Manager for Asia Pacific and later Member of the Group Executive Committee and Shareholders Board. He established in 1980 the first Joint Venture between China and the West and remained its Vice Chairman for ten years. He then served on the boards of a number of global companies until 1995 when the Swiss federal government appointed him for four years as an Ambassador to China, North Korea and Mongolia. Upon his return to Switzerland he again assumed the chairmanship or board membership of several multinational companies. He spent altogether many years in China, following the opening up of China and its contemporary art scene from day one. He has been collecting art since the 1990s and has formed the most substantial collection of contemporary Chinese art in the world. He also established in1997 the Chinese Contemporary Art Award (CCAA), an art award for Chinese contemporary artists living in China, and, in 2007, the CCAA Art Critic Award. He is a member of the International Council of MOMA, New York and International Advisory Council of Tate Gallery, London.
THE SIGG COLLECTION
The Sigg Collection is the world's most comprehensive and diversified collection of contemporary Chinese art. Ranging from the 1970s through the early 21st century, this Collection is extensive and complete in its holdings, encompassing works from successive generations of Chinese artists and numerous works by each artist fully reflecting their development.
The Collection is unique in its composition. While private collections usually reflect the personal taste or vision of the collector, this Collection is extraordinary in that it assembles works across an extremely diverse range of artistic practice and media, from different schools and over many years of artistic production.
The donated works:
The 1,463 donated artworks fully reflect the evolving spirit of contemporary Chinese art via important works from the 1990s and 2000s. This body of work features 310 artists including Ai Weiwei, Ding Yi, Fang Lijun, Geng Jianyi, Gu Wenda, Huang Yongping, Liu Wei, Wang Guangyi, Xu Bing, Yang Shaobin, Yue Minjun, Yu Youhan, Zeng Fanzhi, Zhang Peili, Zhang Xiaogang, as well as Hong Kong artists Lee Kit and Pak Sheung-chuen, and many younger generation artists.
The 47 acquired works:
These artworks from the late 1970s to late 1980s are historically important and each records the early development of the contemporary art movement in China. They are all extremely rare or simply unobtainable in the current art market. Among them, we can find examples from the No Name Group, the earliest contemporary art group in China, and The Stars, the most well-known avant-garde group who staged the first and second Stars Art Exhibition in 1979. In the 1980s, China sees the flourishing of the contemporary art movement. Historical works from such seminal artists of this period such as Wang Guangyi, Zhang Peili, Geng Jianyi and Huang Yongping, are all present in this group. This group of works provide a comprehensive view on the artistic development of the nascent period of contemporary art practice in modern China through the works of many important artists. It also features a number of works with important exhibition history, including the legendary China/ Avant -Garde - most notably Geng Jianyi's Second State, a set of four monumental and powerful portraits of exaggerated smiling faces.
WEST KOWLOON CULTURAL DISTRICT
The West Kowloon Cultural District is the largest arts and cultural project in Hong Kong to date. Its vision is to provide a vibrant cultural quarter for the city; a vital platform for the local arts scene to interact, develop and collaborate; and major facilities to host and produce world-class exhibitions, performances and arts and cultural events. The District will include 17 core arts and cultural venues and 30,000 square metres of space for arts education. It will be a low-density development, providing ample open green space and embracing two kilometres of a vibrant harbour-front promenade, 23 hectares of open space and a green avenue, and closely connected with the neighbourhood.
The project will be developed in phases with construction scheduled to commence in 2013. The venues to be commissioned in Phase 1 include M+ (20th and 21st century visual culture museum), the Xiqu Centre (main theatre and Tea House), a Freespace with an outdoor stage, a Lyric Theatre, a Centre for Contemporary Performance, Medium Theatre I, a Music Centre with a Concert and Recital Hall, a Musical Theatre, a Mega Performance Venue and an Exhibition Centre. A host of ancillary facilities including a Resident Company Centre, other creative learning facilities and a number of Arts Pavilions for visual arts exhibitions will also be constructed in this phase. Phase 2 will involve the commissioning of the Great Theatre, a small theatre as part of the Xiqu Centre, Medium Theatre II and phase 2 of the M+ development.
WKCDA's first cultural event was the West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre which was staged at the future site of the Xiqu Centre near Canton Road during the Chinese New Year in 2012. During ART HK 12, M+ presented, Mobile M+: Yau Ma Tei, the first in a series of major pop-up "nomadic" exhibitions curated by M+. Installed across various locations in the future neighbourhood of M+, it marked the beginning of the museum's venture into programming, to engage the public, before the completion of the building in late 2017.Back