Shanghai has a unique background that provides for some distinctive fundamentals within the city’s contemporary art scene today. Shanghai was formerly an international settlement during the early modern period, and an economic center in the early 21st century. Its social and political experiences infuse an innovative energy into this international metropolis. Since the early 2000s, several public and private art museums have emerged and have made their international debuts. Many commercial galleries and art fairs are young but they are fast-growing and have attracted much international attention.
GETTING AROUND in Shanghai is easy in general but could be a little troublesome during the peak hours, as it is likely that ground transportation will run into some traffic. In terms of transportation tools, hiring a driver and taking taxis are quite convenient. Didi Chuxing - a ridesharing-app like Uber - could be an alternative way to schedule your trip. Convenient and sophisticated bus and subway transportation networks are also available, but mind the crowds during the morning and afternoon rush hours.
A good season to GO to Shanghai for art is between September and November. The fall season does not have the heat of the summer, which can reach above 40 degrees, nor the humid and bitter-cold air of the winter. In 2017, PhotoFairs Shanghai will open in September, while another two major art fairs, ART021 Shanghai Contemporary Art Fair, and West Bund Art & Design, will open in November.
To STAY in Shanghai, there are plenty of hotels that will satisfy your needs. Top-tier chain hotels and independent hotels are available in various locations. If you’re looking for an amazing view, a stay along the strip near the Bund can easily provide that.
ShanghART Gallery (West Bund, Bldg.10, 2555 Longteng Avenue) is one of the earliest contemporary art galleries in Shanghai since 1996. Today, the gallery boasts four spaces: two of them are located respectively in the two most active art neighborhoods in shanghai – the M50 (see below) and the West Bund; the other two spaces are located in Beijing and Singapore. ShanghART also has a strong presence in various major international art fairs, including Art Basel Hong Kong and Art Basel, Basel.
PEARL LAM GALLERIES
As a leading gallery in Asia, Pearl Lam Galleries (G/F, 181 Middle Jiangxi Road) has presented high-quality exhibitions for over 20 years. It is dedicated to stimulating cross-cultural practices and encouraging artists to challenge cultural boundaries. Apart from its space in Shanghai, Pearl Lam also has galleries in Hong Kong and Singapore.
M97 Gallery (No. 363 Changping Road, Bldg. 4) specializes in exhibiting contemporary and fine art photography since 2006. Works by both Chinese and international artists are shown here at the gallery, which is committed to promoting the appreciation of photography in China.
Initially established in Italy in 2005, Aike Dellarco (Building 6, 2555 Longteng Avenue) opened its branch in Shanghai in 2008. The gallery represents contemporary Chinese and Japanese artists in China and in the rest of the world.
LEO XU PROJECTS
Leo Xu Projects (Lane 49, Building 3, Fuxing Xi Road) is a contemporary art gallery showing young Chinese and international artists. Led by Shanghai-based curator and writer Leo Xu, the gallery actively promotes new art and ideas that reflect social-political environment in the ever-changing 21st century. Leo Xu Projects also aims to create cross-disciplined discussions to explore the essence of the time.
SHANGHAI GALLERY OF ART
Located at Three on the Bund, one of the most distinctive historic areas in Shanghai, Shanghai Gallery of Art (No.3, the Bund) is a core member of the local ecosystem of art. The gallery is dedicated to exhibiting Asian contemporary artists and fostering cultural practices through their quality programming. The gallery’s interior design, high ceilings and undecorated concrete walls, marks its uniqueness among its luxurious neighborhood surrounded.
ART LABOR GALLERY
ART LABOR Gallery (570 Yongjia lu, Building 4) carriers a mission of exploring the meaning of personal and national identities and the future of Chinese society under the influence of emerging art. The gallery aims to introduce a refreshing energy into the current Chinese art scene by showcasing unconventional contemporary artists. The space itself is well worth a visit, as it is designed by renowned Montreal architect Israel Noel.
ART + SHANGHAI GALLERY
Founded in 2007, Art + Shanghai Gallery (191 South Suzhou Road) aims to present unique and high quality Chinese contemporary art. At the gallery, forms of cultural practices and records of individual stories are expressed through the arts. Art + Shanghai is dedicated to sharing revolutionary ideas with both local and international audiences. In 2016, the gallery opened its second space in Singapore.
MadeIn Gallery (No.106, 2879 Longteng Avenue) is established by Chinese artist Xu Zhen’s MadeIn Company. The gallery is a creative platform that is dedicated to showcasing international talents by organizing cultural events and exhibitions with its focus on contemporary cultural development and communication.
Founded in 1982 in Paris by Pierre Dumonteil, Galerie Dumonteil (22 Sinan Mansions) has been promoting figurative art for the last 25 years. The gallery hosts high quality exhibitions of painting, sculpture and photography. Apart from its space in Shanghai, Galerie Dumonteil also has galleries in Paris and New York.
BETWEEN ART LAB - SHANGHAI
Between Art Lab - Shanghai (Yangshupu Road No.2361) is the first experimental art lab in China. Between Art Lab explores the infinite possibility of contemporary art across various disciplines. It serves as a platform that facilitates communication among science, technology, architecture, design, multimedia, etc. Between Art Lab has another location in Beijing as well.
As one of the youngest members of the Shanghai art community, Capsule Shanghai (Building 16, Anfu Lu 275 Nong) is located at a beautiful early 20th century garden house secluded from the outside metropolitan life. The gallery exhibits both Chinese and international contemporary artists who push the boundaries of the art world through their own trans-regional experiences.
Located in the former French Concession in Shanghai, Leo Gallery (376 Wu Kang Road) represents both Chinese and international artists. The gallery is active at many major international art fairs such as Art Basel Hong Kong, Art Stage Singapore, West Bund Shanghai, ART021, etc. Apart from its regular exhibition programs, Leo Gallery also promotes public art projects in collaboration with both commercial and educational institutions.
EDOUARD MALINGUE GALLERY
Originally from Hong Kong, Edouard Malingue Gallery (2202, 2879 Longteng Avenue) opened a new space in Shanghai in November 2016. The gallery represents established and emerging contemporary artists. Edouard Malingue Gallery is also known for its large off-site public projects.
M50 ART DISTRICT
Established in 2000 by Shanghai artist Xue-Song, M50 (50 Moganshan Road) is a contemporary art district named after its address, 50 Mongshan Road. Situated by Suzhou Creek, what was originally a textile mill has since been transformed into an enclave of galleries and design spaces for both established and emerging artists.With a focus on the arts, and cool cafés like UNDEF/NE and Bandu Cabin, this enclave is set to be the next hip area.
As mentioned earlier, the prestigious SHANGHART GALLERY (Building 16), run by Swiss native Lorenz Helbling, has a secondary space located at M50. This space focuses more on younger artists who are engaged with newer mediums and more experimental techniques, as compared to its West Bund gallery.
Founded in 2005, GALLERY 55 (Building 4A) is one of the earliest generations of art galleries in Shanghai. It is known for its openness to unconventional art and ideas. Gallery 55 promotes emerging and mid-career talents.
ISLAND6 ART CENTER (Building 6) is an artist-founded project that is dedicated to supporting its in house artist collective, Island 6 (Liu Dao). Island 6 produces innovative contemporary art involving modern technologies. And Island 6 Art Center is a platform that encourages dialogue on multi-disciplined artistic practices.
CHRONUS ART CENTER (Building 18) is a non-profit gallery and research centre dedicated to the production and exploration of media art. A visit to Chronus Art Center usually is an eye-opening experience, as they are known for some of their experimental exhibitions like ‘Smell Dating’, whereby visitors found dates based on the smell of their sweat.
If you’re looking for exciting emerging artists, then look no further than VANGUARD GALLERY (Building 4A), which has been actively engaged in discovering and promoting young artists who are vanguards of contemporary art - much like their namesake. Discover artists such as Liu Fei, Gao Mingyan and Guo Xi.
ROCKBUND ART MUSEUM
Part of the Rockbund Urban Renaissance project, Rockbund Art Museum (RAM) (20 Huqiu Road) is one of the pioneer contemporary art museums in China. Rockbund Art Museum not only exhibits exciting contemporary art but also aims to elevate the contemporary art scene through research, preservation and public education. Artists that have shown are a mix of Western and Asian names, including Heman Chong, Felix Gonzales-Torres, Ugo Rondinon, Mark Bradford and Chen Zhen.
Long Museum is the largest private institution of collection in China. It has two exhibition locations in Shanghai. One of them is located at the center of the West Bund Culture Corridor (No. 3398, Longteng Avenue); the other one is in Pudong New Area (No. 210, Lane 2255, Luoshan Road). Long Museum embraces contemporaneity and creativity. Their two spaces in Shanghai are crucial to the local art community. In 2016, Long Museum opened its third space in Chongqing, China.
POWER STATION OF ART
Power Station of Art (PSA) (200 Huayuangang Road) is the first state-run contemporary art museum in mainland China. The exhibition space was previously the Nanshi Electric Plant that lit the first light in China. Although it no longer generates electric power, Power Station of Art is now dedicated to generating urban culture for its citizens. You can’t miss the building, with its iconic old chimney that has been converted into a thermometer, which lights up at night.
MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART
Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) (People’s park on West Nanjing Road) is a private museum that aims to promote cultural exchange between Shanghai and the rest of the world. It is also a platform that provides art education, by introducing contemporary art and design to the public.
SHANGHAI MINSHENG ART MUSEUM
In 2017, Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum moved to its temporary new location in Pudong New Area (1929 Shibo Avenue). The museum is founded by the China Minsheng Banking Corporation in 2008. It is part of the bank’s endeavor to foster the appreciation of contemporary art among the public.
The exhibition space of Yuz Museum (35 Fenggu Road) was an airport hangar. The design of the museum exhibition space has maintained the style of a deserted hangar, and re-structured the space to create showrooms that can house the magnificence of large-scale contemporary art.
OTHER ART DESTINATIONS
SHANGHAI K11 ART MALL
A chic and trendy place to enjoy both metropolitan lifestyle and art is the Shanghai K11 Art Mall (300 Mid-Huaihai Road). It is an artistic shopping mall with a mature business community art exhibition spaces. K11 Art Mall aims to provide the most interactive and theatrical shopping experience for its customers.