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Chinese art galleries to see "golden time"
Updated: 2004-10-21 01:07

The Chinese art gallery industry is about to bid farewell to a difficult time with few spectators and is poised to embrace a "golden time" for development as its focus is moving to academic research and artistic collection, said Chinese art scholars Wednesday.

Jia Fangzhou, a well-known Chinese art critic, told Xinhua at an international workshop hosted by China Art Gallery that over the past few years, China's art galleries, poor in number, "were not art galleries in a real sense, but merely exhibition halls in which art collections and academic activities were carried out without any well-planned schedule."

The collections in most Chinese national art galleries come mainly from donations by artists and private collectors, said Wang Xiaoming, curator of Shenzhen Art Gallery, adding that some of the collections were purchased by the galleries at prices lower than market prices.

However, since 1990s, the booming art auction market crashed the original ways of collection for art galleries. What's worse, lack of operation funds forced many art galleries to take artworks on show as charges for the organizing work, and as a result, more and more low quality artworks entered into the galleries' collections.

"This is mainly due to the outdated concept of gallery managers, " Wang said.

The art gallery industry worldwide has met various problems in the aspect of collection. Over the past several hundred years, Western art galleries have seen rapid progress in inviting private sponsorship into public funding, and set up a mature system to judge artistic value of collections.

Art galleries in China also boomed with the improvement of people's living standard. Governments at various levels began to pay high attention to the growing role of art galleries and increased financial support to them. In Shanghai, the municipal government pools 5 million yuan (600,000 US dollars) for the Shanghai Art Gallery to expand its collection every year, while in Shenzhen, the city government has decided to set up a special fund of 10 million yuan (1.2 million US dollars) to support local art galleries.

In the meantime, artistic sponsorship has emerged. At the Shanghai Art Gallery, over half of the works are from private donations. However, its curator, Li Xiangyang, pointed out some problems also existed in the sponsorship system, such as lack of incentive policies in tax reduction.

Le Zhengwei, vice curator of the art gallery named after well-known Chinese painting master He Xiangning, said major art galleries in China have tried to enlarge their collections by hosting more exhibitions. The art gallery Le works for, by hosting Shenzhen Modern Sculpture Exhibition for five years, has collected more than 20 sculptures by world-renowned artists. This, in return, has strengthened the fame of the gallery and attracted more high- level shows.

Similarly, the Shanghai Art Gallery has collected works by well-known Spanish painter Salvadore Dali, and the Guangdong Art Gallery has purchased a number of artworks popular in the international market.

Some art galleries established their own fame by focusing on art works of certain artists. The Jiangsu Art Gallery has purchased nearly 70 paintings and calligraphy works by artists represented by He Xiangning and Liu Haisu.

To Feng Yuan, curator of the China Art Gallery, the national art gallery will not only hold high-level exhibitions but also give priority to the popularization of arts among the general public.

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