Ullens Center for Contemporary Art

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Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA)
Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA).jpg
Established November 2007
Location 798 Art Zone, Beijing
Coordinates 39°59′21″N 116°29′17″E / 39.989057°N 116.48793°E / 39.989057; 116.48793
Director Philip Tinari
Website http://www.ucca.org.cn

The Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) is a comprehensive, not-for-profit art center serving a global Beijing public. As a platform for contemporary art linking China and the world, UCCA offers exhibitions and public programs which focus attention on the cultural situation in China, stimulate the development of the arts, and advance the public cultural sensibility.

UCCA: A Catalyst for Contemporary Culture in China[edit]

The Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) located at the heart of the 798 Art District, it was founded by collectors Guy and Myriam Ullens and opened in November 2007. Through a wide array of exhibitions and programs, UCCA promotes the development of the local artistic environment, fosters international exchange, and showcases the latest in art, design, and other fields. UCCA’s cultural and educational programs bring the public into close contact with cutting-edge thought in art and the humanities, advancing the public cultural sensibility and bringing new experiences to its audience.

Exhibitions[edit]

UCCA’s four main spaces play host each year to around fifteen exhibitions of varying scale. A rich complement of educational and interpretive programs expand the reach of these displays, bringing viewers into closer contact with the ideas behind the work on view. As an international museum operating on Chinese soil, UCCA maintains a special focus on recent developments and historical movements in Chinese contemporary art, pairing this expert engagement with exhibitions devoted to major trends and figures from around the region and the world. Through the rigor of its curatorial standards, UCCA aims to further the development of the art world in China and bring public attention to the very best work being made.

Past highlights[edit]

Since its opening in 2007 till 2011, UCCA has mounted 62 exhibitions attracting more than 1.5 million visitors. The exhibition “’85 New Wave: The Birth of Chinese Contemporary Art” opened the Center’s program. In 2009, the major solo show “Qiu Zhijie: Breaking Through the Ice” took the construction of the Nanjing Yangtze River bridge as a lens on the inherent absurdities of everyday life in the context of a fiercely ambitious modernization program and an unwavering national will. Later that same year, the groundbreaking exhibition “Breaking Forecast” showcased a core of eight major emerging Chinese artists. In 2010 saw the site-specific exhibition of a creative dialogue between Olafur Eliasson and Ma Yansong, redefining the boundaries between art and architecture. In 2011, Liu Xiaodong’s “Hometown Boy” evoked the complex sentiments of home, and brought to light the philosophizing of a generation caught in a time of transformation, while shows like Wang Jianwei’s “Yellow Signal” and Tatsuo Miyajima’s “Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust” exposed the inner contemplations of artists towards the fundamentals of life and society from distinct philosophical angles.

Education and public programs[edit]

Through its more than 500 annual programs—including art talks, exchanges, film screenings, performances, workshops, and public festivals—UCCA creates a creative platform for cultural interaction, which in turn allows its public to explore possibilities in different social fields. These programs allow participants to discover the world from a new perspective, to share their knowledge with the future.

UCCASTORE[edit]

UCCASTORE maintains China's leading program of limited editions, having collaborated with more than forty artists to produce specially commissioned works. It also showcases the work of cutting-edge designers, offering a wide range of original products found nowhere else. All UCCASTORE proceeds support the Center’s programs and operations. Currently UCCA has two stores as UCCASTORE @ DESIGN and UCCASTORE @ ART.BOOKS.

Space and history[edit]

Spread over three factory chambers built in the early 1950s to Bauhaus-influenced designs, UCCA's spaces maintain traces of their industrial past. Fully renovated by architects Jean-Michel Wilmotte and Qingyun Ma in 2007, it is a space capable of hosting international exhibitions of the highest caliber. With a total area of 8,000 square meters, it encompasses four main exhibition spaces including the signature Great Hall, the Central Gallery, the Nave, and the Long Gallery, all of which boast professional lighting and climate and humidity control and support exhibitions of the highest caliber.

Founders[edit]

UCCA founders Baron and Baroness Guy and Myriam Ullens de Schooten are among the world’s leading art collectors. Their deep affection for China led them to build one of the world's most comprehensive collections of Chinese art, and in turn an art center that would promote the development of this art. Having retired from a forty-year career with his family's business in 2000, Mr. Ullens devotes his full energies to charitable initiatives. Together they also maintain a series of projects in Nepal including orphanages, child-nutrition centers, and the Ullens School. In 2004, Mrs. Ullens founded the Mimi Foundation, which helps to ease the suffering of cancer patients at hospitals throughout Europe.

Criticism[edit]

In May 2014, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei accused the UCCA of self-censorship when curators decided to omit his name from a public newsletter announcing the opening of an exhibition in memory of artist/curator Hans van Dijk.[1] Ai had originally contributed three works to the exhibition, including the first piece he ever exhibited in Europe as part of an exhibition curated by van Dijk in 1993, but removed the works during the opening ceremony, "in defiance of UCCA's portrayal of Chinese contemporary art.”[2]

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