For Guy Ullens, the Dream of a Chinese Art Museum “Is Over”

Belgian collection Guy Ullens opened a museum for contemporary Chinese art in Beijing in 2007, but has had tough times since then and is now divesting from the project and looking for partners to take over management. From the Art Newspaper:

The baron opened the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) in a former munitions factory in the 798 district of Beijing in November 2007. The not-for-profit gallery, which contains three exhibition halls, an auditorium, restaurant, library, and bookstore, was entirely funded by Ullens.

Speaking to The Art Newspaper, Ullens said he had originally hoped to use UCCA to show his extensive holdings of Chinese contemporary art. “That idea was very quickly shot down … so we [moved] very quickly to promoting Chinese art by doing special exhibitions and temporary shows.”

At first, UCCA struggled to find its feet. Six months after its launch, four out of the five senior staff members who had been introduced to the press at the launch had resigned or had been replaced.

The gallery was criticised for employing too many Europeans—its director is the French curator Jérôme Sans—amid suggestions that the Chinese resented a foreigner opening an ambitious and important institution like UCCA. Ullens admitted those suggestions were partly true. “The Chinese have been nice, we’ve had very nice relationships, we’ve never had censorship. The problem is they have structures and you need to have Chinese partners to navigate the structures. So it’s true, to some extent it’s true.”

Read about the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art when it first opened, via CDT.


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