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Beijing's Top 10 : 798 Art District

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Since the first artists set up in Da Shan Zi’s newly vacated 798 factory in 2001, the East German-built industrial compound has become a world-famous center of contemporary Chinese art. Alongside the studios and galleries, there are also chic cafés, bars, and restaurants, not to mention a growing number of designer shops and showrooms. The area is popular with tourists, who arrive by the coach-load.

  • 4 Jiu Xian Qiao Lu, Chaoyang district, northeast of the Holiday Inn Lido complex.

  • Bus: 401, 402, 405, 445, 909, 955, 973, 988, 991.

  • To Caochangdi: Bus 418 from Dongzhimen

798 Space

UCCA

  • 8459 9269

  • Open: 10am–7pm Tue–Sun.

  • Admission: ¥30 (free on Thu).

  • www.ucca.org.cn

Galleria Continua

Iberia


Brave new worlds

1985 marks the arrival of the avant garde in Chinese art, with controversial student graduation shows igniting intense debate in artistic circles. The following year, a New York gallery introduced the new Chinese art to an international audience. Today, China’s art market is the third largest in the world.


The Ullens Center for Contemporary Art provides free maps of the entire 798 area. Most galleries are open from around 11am to 7pm, closed on Mondays.




Top 10 Features
  1. 798 Space

    The first gallery to open in Da Shan Zi, 798 Space remains at the heart of the district. It is worth visiting for the spectacle of the cavernous main hall with its curious multiple-arched roof.

  2. Maoist graffiti

    When many of the abandoned factory spaces were being converted for use as galleries, the artists instructed the decorators to leave untouched the giant Maoist slogans that had been lettered on the walls by the former workers – as at 798 Space. “Mao Zedong is the red star in our hearts,” reads one.

    graffiti-daubed wall in the factory compound
  3. AT Café

    A fashionable café whose notable feature is a bare-brick dividing wall punctured by massive holes, AT serves as the unofficial canteen for the artists and gallery staff who work in the area.

  4. UCCA

    Founded by Belgian collectors Guy and Miriam Ullens, the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) is the largest single venue in the 798 area. Among the many artists showing here is Fang Lijun. UCCA has an auditorium for lectures, a library, a store, and a restaurant.

  5. White Space

    Foreign art dealers are already present in numbers in 798. The striking White Space was one of the first such galleries, a branch of the Berlin-based Alexander Ochs Gallery.

  6. Timezone 8

    Established in 2001 by Texan Robert Bernell, Timezone 8, which occupies a former factory canteen, is Beijing’s best art bookshop. It also incorporates a gallery that specializes in photographic art.

  7. Galleria Continua

    Beijing’s outpost of Italy’s Galleria Continua is located in a former munitions factory. This gallery, which aims to stimulate cultural exchanges, hosts shows by renowned inter­national artists such as Chen Zhen, Daniel Buren, and Anish Kapoor.

  8. Iberia

    The second major European-funded space in Da Shan Zi, Iberia (left) is proof of 798’s leap from the local to the international scene. In addition to an exhibition area, Iberia has a public education center, a publishing house, and a media archive.

  9. Caochangdi

    While 798 is looking more and more like a retail outlet, nearby Caochangdi has emerged as a truly cutting-edge art district. It is the home of Ai Weiwei, China’s influential architect, who designed a number of buildings in the area, including the gallery space for Urs Meile.

  10. 798 Photo Gallery

    In addition to often excellent and regularly changing exhibitions of work by both Chinese and foreign photographers, the gallery also has a couple of mezzanine levels where a selection of photographic prints for sale are displayed.

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