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Uli Sigg donates Chinese contemporary art collection to M+

Thursday 14/06/12

ACAF is pleased to passs on the fantastic news that M+, Hong Kong’s future museum for visual culture, has recieved the world’s best collection of Chinese contemporary art from Uli Sigg.


(12 June 2012, Hong Kong) The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA) announced today a donation of 1,463 artworks to the permanent collection of M+, Hong Kong’s future museum of visual culture opening in 2017. The collection donation, conservatively valued at HKD1.3 billion (USD 163 million) 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 approximately 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 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 (USD 22.7 million). Part gift/ part purchase is an increasingly common international model for museums to obtain a collection. The main aspect of this model is that the museum clearly shows its commitment to the collection.

Announcing the first acquisition for the arts district, Mr Michael Lynch, Chief Executive Officer of the WKCDA, said, “This is one of the largest and most valuable donations of artwork ever to have been made in the world to a single museum. 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 is no better platform for my collection and for Chinese contemporary art than that which M+ can provide.”

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 the Hong Kong and Asia, firmly rooted in the location and its unique culture. M+ will dedicate a minimum of 5000 square metres during the first three years of its opening to two presentations of what is to be called the M+ Sigg Collection. 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.


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