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City Art Guide: Beijing

ByThe Artling Team , Yanqiu Autumn Dai
City Art Guide: Beijing

Beijing is the origin of Chinese contemporary art scene, being that it has always been a center of social and political movements. Contemporary art started in Beijing as early as the mid-80s. 85 New Wave, an avant-garde art movement, marked the birth of Chinese contemporary art. In 1989 Beijing, ‘China/ Avant-Garde Exhibition’ at National Art Museum reached the peak of this movement. Since then, Beijing has attracted much international attention from collectors, curators, gallerists, and other members of the art industry.

Quick Tips

Getting around in Beijing could be a stressful experience for those unfamiliar with the city. Known as the political and economic center of China, Beijing is also famous for its traffic jams during the rush hour periods. Hiring a driver and asking a hotel concierge for advice would be very helpful. If you have trouble getting a taxi during the peak hours, Didi Chuxing, a ridesharing app much like Uber, could be your alternative option.

The best time to go to Beijing to see art is during the months of April and May during Art Beijing, a major art fair that has been running for over 10 years in the city. The spring season provides moderate temperature and beautiful scenery as well.

To stay in Beijing, you can easily find major chain hotels. If you prefer a metropolitan lifestyle, Sanlitun Soho area would be an ideal location. Shopping malls, restaurants and bars in this area will leave you with a memorable Beijing experience. If you prefer an immersive experience of the local art scene, 798 Art Zone would be an area in which you want to stay close to. 798 Art Zone is where most internationally renowned galleries are, and a chic neighborhood that is worth a visit in its own right.


The Orchid is a boutique hotel is located in a neighbourhood of 'hutongs' near the Drum and Bell Tower
Image courtesy of Conde Nast Traveler

Commercial Galleries

798 Art Zone

The 798 Art Zone in northeast Beijing of Dashanzi area
Image courtesy of Matthew Niederhauser/INSTITUTE

798 Art Zone or Dashanzi Art District is situated in the northeastern part of Beijing, and named after the 798 factory. It is comprised of a cluster of decommissioned military factory buildings, whose unique architectural style lends perfectly to contemporary art galleries. 798 Art Zone starts from Jiangtai Road and spans 148 acres, ending at Jiuxianqiao Road North. It is also the site of the 798 Art Festival that happens from end September to October. There are quite a few trendy eateries and cafes in the area, such as Lord of Salt, a Sichuan restaurant and AT CAFÉ that has some simple food choices, as well as coffee. 

Beijing Commune 
No.4 Jiuxianqiao Rd, 798 Art Zone

Beijing Commune 
Image courtesy of Beijing Commune

Beijing Commune is a contemporary art gallery that specializes in showcasing established and emerging Chinese artists such as Song Dong, Yue Minjun, Shang Yixin, Fan Shuru and more. Over the past 10 years, the gallery has developed programs and exhibitions for many influential Chinese artists, while being dedicated to fostering the careers of young artists at the same time. The gallery initially began with group shows but has since developed to focus on solo shows to provide a more in-depth look at their artistic practices.

Pace Beijing 
798 Art District, No. 2 Jiuxianqiao Rd

Pace Beijing was the first major Manhattan art gallery to open in the city
Image courtesy of Widewalls

A space opened by the leading international contemporary art gallery Pace in 2008, Pace Beijing is a vital part of the local art scene. It represents contemporary art in Asia by showcasing Asian artists through their rigorous programming by bringing major names such as Song Dong, Liu Jianhua, Hiroshi Sugimoto and Qiu Zhijie to the gallery.

Tang Contemporary Art 
Address 1: D06, 798 Art District, No.2 Jiuxianqiao Road, Chaoyang Dst, Beijing, China
Address 2: B01, 798 Art District, No.2 Jiuxianqiao Road, Chaoyang Dst, Beijing, China

Tang Contemporary Art
Image courtesy of Art Link Art

Tang Contemporary Art was established in 1997 in Bangkok and has since expanded to 4 spaces across Asia, with two in Beijing. Their largest space resides in Beijing’s iconic 798 Art District, and has established itself as the one of the most progressive spaces in China. Groundbreaking exhibitions are always expected of Tang Contemporary Art, as they consistently initiate dialogues between artists, curators, collectors and institutions through their showcasing of top Asian art.

Galerie Urs Meile 
D10, 798 East Street, 798 Art District, 2 Jiuxianqiao Rd, Chaoyang district

The façade of Galerie Urs Meile
Image courtesy of Galerie Urs Meile

Originated in Lucerne, Switzerland, Galerie Urs Meile was one of the first international galleries to introduce contemporary Chinese art to collectors, artists and art professionals outside of China. Their new space at the 798 Art District opened in 2017 and was renovated under the guidance of Japanese architect Mitsunori Sano.

HdM Gallery 
798 Art District, No. 4 Jiuxianqiao Lu, Chaoyang District

Image courtesy of Mask 9

HdM Gallery is a contemporary and modern art gallery with a special focus on Chinese contemporary art. Founded in Beijing by Hadrien de Montferrand in 2009, it opened a second space in Hangzhou in 2013 headed by Olivier Hervet. A third space opened in London in 2018. Since its inception, the gallery has hosted solo shows of established Chinese artists including He An, Zhao Zhao, and Jiang Zhi. It also launched the careers of younger artists such as Lu Chao, Wang Yi, and Zhu Rixin. 

Long March Space
798 Art Zone, No.4 Jiu Xianqiao Rd, Chaoyang District

Long March Space
Image courtesy of Long March Space

Founded by Lu Jie, Long March Space is committed to exploring new possibilities of contemporary art in China. The gallery aims to be a revolutionary voice in the local art community through re-defining the ways in which art is perceived and appreciated. 

Red Gate Gallery 
798 Art Zone, No. 2 Jiuxianqiao Rd, Chaoyang

Red Gate Gallery
Image courtesy of Tripadvisor

Founded in 1991, Red Gate Gallery is the earliest contemporary art gallery in China. Its artist residency program, Red Gate Residency, serves as an entry point for artists who want to be introduced to the local art scene. The gallery space is located inside Beijing 798 Art District adjacent to Pace Beijing, Faurschou Foundation and Goethe Institut.

Platform China 
D07 Main 2nd St, 798 Art District, No. 2 Jiuxianqiao Rd, Chaoyang District

Platform China
Image courtesy of Jing Daily 

Platform China represents Chinese and international artists with their experimental projects ranging from painting and video to performance art and music. Artists on their roster include Fu Jingyan, Hu Qingtai, Tong Kunniao, and Xiao Bo. 

de Sarthe Gallery
328-D Caochangdi, Chaoyang District ​​​​

'The Bro Generation' by Double Fly Art Center at de Sarthe Gallery, Beijing
Image courtesy of de Sarthe Gallery, Beijing

Opened in 2014, de Sarthe Gallery in Beijing is dedicated to promoting both Chinese masters and the new generations of Chinese contemporary artists. It aims to become a platform in Asia that brings together artists, collectors, curators and many participants in the art world. The gallery was initially founded in 1977 in Paris, and now has spaces in Hong Kong and Beijing. 

Chambers Fine Art
Red No.1-D Caochangdi, Chaoyang District

"Tree" by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei at Chambers Fine Art
Image courtesy of CAFA Art Info

Opened in 2007, Chambers Fine Art is situated in a building designed by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. It supports the careers of Chinese contemporary artists using both traditional and modern art techniques to tackle socio-political issues, through their curation techniques in its Beijing and New York spaces.

Beijing Art Now Gallery
Chaoyang District, Beijing Cui Guizhuang, 1 E Blk 

Beijing Art Now Gallery
Image courtesy of Dutchculture

Beijing Art Now Gallery promotes Chinese contemporary artists in China and in the rest of the world. The gallery has a dedicated video room that used for experimental exhibitions and projects. Since its establishment in 2004, Beijing Art Now has presented many influential exhibitions and collaborated with renowned international institutions. 

Pékin Fine Arts
241 Cao Chang Di Village, Cui Ge Zhuang, Chao Yang District

Pékin Fine Arts
Image courtesy of Pékin Fine Arts

Pékin Fine Arts was established in Beijing in 2005 by Meg Maggio, an art writer, curator and advisor. The gallery represents talented contemporary Asian artists from China, Japan, Indonesia, Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Pékin Fine Arts has had a branch gallery in Hong Kong since 2012, as well as a main location in Cao Changdi Village, designed by Beijing-based artist and architect Ai Weiwei. 

Ink Studio
Red No. 1-B1 Caochangdi, Chaoyang District

Ink Studio in Caochangdi, Beijing
Image courtesy of Ink Studio

Ink Studio strives to be a vital force that documents and promotes contemporary ink paintings from China. It is dedicated to presenting works that explore new possibilities of this traditional media. The gallery represents important figures including Wang Dongling, Zheng Chongbin, Yang Jiechang, and more. 

IFP: Black Sesame Space
Black Sesame Space, 13 Heizhima Hutong 

Image courtesy of IFP: Black Sesame Space 

IFP, or Institute for Provocation, helms Black Sesame Space which is a projects space that opened in June 2014. They are located in a converted boiler room of the IFP courtyard and is an experimental space for exhibitions, performances, workshops and more. With high ceilings, flexible lighting conditions and favourable exhibition layouts, this location has established itself as a unique ‘white cube’ located in one of Beijing’s best-preserved courtyards.

White Space Beijing 
No.255 Caochangdi, Airport Service Rd, Chaoyang District

White Space Beijing
Image courtesy of White Space Beijing

Founded in 2004, White Space Beijing represents emerging and established artists. The gallery aims to grow with its artists by producing rigorously curated exhibitions and collaborating with international art fairs, museums, and institutions. The gallery was initially located in the 798 Art Factory and moved to Caochangdi Art District in 2009. 

Aura Gallery
No.13 Dongfeng Art Park, No.1 South Tuofangying, Chaoyang district

Aura Gallery in Qikeshu Creative Park
Image courtesy of Guan Dian

Aura Gallery works with both international artists and Chinese artists. The gallery presents intercultural works, and aims to introduce Chinese artists to the rest of the world and connect collectors with international artists. The gallery also has a space in Taipei. 

Museums & Institutions

Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA)
798 Art District, No. 4 Jiuxianqiao Lu, Chaoyang District

Image courtesy of Ullens Center for Contemporary Art

UCCA is China’s leading independent institution of contemporary art. Founded in 2007 out of a commitment to bring Chinese contemporary art into global dialogue, it has since become a cultural landmark for Beijing, a conduit for international exchange, and an incubator for new talent. Located at the heart of the 798 Art District, it welcomes more than one million visitors a year. Originally known as the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, UCCA underwent a major restructuring in 2017 and now operates as the UCCA Group, comprising two distinct entities: UCCA Foundation, a registered non-profit that organizes exhibitions and research, stages public programs, and undertakes community outreach; and UCCA Enterprises, a family of art-driven retail and educational ventures. UCCA’s work grows from its core belief that new art can change lives, broaden perspectives, and enrich the conversation between China and the world.

National Art Museum of China 
1 Wusi St, Dongcheng District

The exterior of the National Art Museum of China
Image courtesy of the National Art Museum of China

Opened in 1963, the National Art Museum of China is a state-run art museum where you can find Chinese art ranging from the end of the 19th century until today. A large variety of art is exhibited in its 17 exhibition halls, which will enable you to observe how political culture has affected its programming.

M Woods Museum
D-06 798 Art Zone, No. 2 Jiuxianqiao Rd

M Woods Museum was founded by Lin Han, Wanwan Lei and Michael Xufu Huang
Image courtesy of Archdaily

M Woods Museum is a private not-for-profit art museum founded by collectors Lin Han and Wanwan Lei, and co-founded by Michael Xufu Huang, that opened in 2014. Housed in a former munitions factory in Beijing’s 798 Art District, M Woods is dedicated to showcasing emerging artists on a bigger platform and re-discovering established artists from new perspectives. The museum houses collections regardless of an artwork’s period and geographical origin.

Faurschou Foundation
798 Art District, 2 Jiuxianqiao Rd, Chaoyang District

"We the People" by Danh Vo at Faurschou Foundation
Image courtesy of Faurschou Foundation 

Faurschou Foundation is a privately owned art institution with a collection of contemporary art, and with exhibition venues at Copenhagen North Harbour as well as Beijing’s attractive art neighborhood 798. Faurschou Foundation introduces visitors to some of the world’s most acclaimed artists. Faurschou Foundation’s collection is constantly developed and expanded. 

Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.

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