Shanghai has experienced an exciting growth spurt over the last few years. A slew of world-class galleries in Shanghai are on a mission to find and foster China’s most promising artistic talent. From the hip, graffiti-covered district of Moganshan Road to world-class museums and small art spaces tucked away on picturesque lanes, here are ten of Shanghai’s best contemporary art galleries.
One of the largest of its kind in China, M97 Gallery was established in 2006 in Shanghai, China’s financial capital and global city. Consistently exhibiting contemporary and fine art photography that spans all genres of the medium, M97 represents an eclectic range of important emerginging and established artists working with photography.
M97 also has an international perspective, displaying well-known photographers from around the world and presenting an overview of the global photography scene. The light-filled, minimalist space allows the images to speak for themselves.
Add: M97 Gallery, 97 Moganshan Road, 2nd floor, Shanghai
Contact: 0086 021 6266 1597
The ShanghART Gallery was first established in 1996, in a corridor of the Portman Ritz-Carlton hotel, and was one of the first contemporary art galleries in Shanghai. Since then, it has moved premises twice only to end up in the cultural hub of M50 in 2004. ShanghART is dedicated to promoting up and coming artists and is widely acknowledged as one of the best places for Chinese art.
There are two spaces at 50 Moganshan Road: the Main Space, a huge and flexible warehouse space, as well as H-Space, which exhibits large-scale works. ShanghART’s influence is far-reaching, with ShanghART Tapou, a public warehouse space in west Shanghai, and gallery spaces in Beijing and Singapore.
ShanghART was the first Chinese gallery to be invited to Art Basel in 2000, and was also featured as one of the 75 most influential galleries in the Thames & Hudson publication International Art Galleries: Post-war to Post-millenium.
Add: ShanghArt Gallery, Building 16, 50 Moganshan Road, Putuo District, Shanghai
Contact: 0086 021 6359 3923
The Rockbund Art Museum (RAM) is a contemporary art museum which plays one of the finest roles in the creative art scene worldwide. Since its opening in 2010, Rockbund Art Museum has achieved high renown for its exhibitions of acclaimed Chinese and international artists. Since opening in 2010, RAM has hosted some of China’s most successful artists, such as Zheng Fanzi and Cai Guo Ciang.
The museum’s aspiration to become a social force is attested by its extensive educational work, especially its well-received Night@RAM programme, and its aim of stimulating discussion of topical and social issues through contemporary art.
The Rockbund Art Museum envisions itself as an open and vibrant museum that strives to provide support to contemporary artists and curators, to confront daring challenges for a creative contemporary art scene; and to generate lively programs of exhibitions and cultural events.
Add: RockBund Art Museum, 20 Huqiu Road, Huangpu district, Shanghai
Contact: 0086 021 3310 9985
Art Labor is a gallery that sees itself as firmly lodged within the cultural context of Shanghai’s financial power and burgeoning artistic identity. In fact, its international programme, with around half of its artists coming from outside of China, is an attempt to engineer and expand the Shanghai arts scene, and to lead China in a fresh direction.
Art Labor’s focus is on developing new talent and interesting, original ideas that transcend geographical boundaries. Located in the quirky former French Concession area, the gallery itself is an interesting discovery: designed by Montreal architect Israel Noel, it features movable walls and lighting.
Add: Art Labor Gallery, #411, Building 4, 570 Yongjia Road, Shanghai
Contact: 0086 021 3460 5331
The Power Station of Art is notable in that it is the first state-run contemporary art museum in Shanghai. Launched in 2012, it is housed in a disused power station on the banks of the Huangpu River, the former location of the Pavilion of the Future in the World Expo 2010. It has been conspicuously reimagined as a Shanghai landmark, with a huge neon thermometer atop its smokestack.
The Power Station is also a towering beacon in the cultural landscape of Shanghai. Home to the Shanghai Biennial, it hosts prestigious international touring exhibitions. One of its first shows, Electric Fields: Surrealism and Beyond, featured 119 loaned pieces from the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and exhibitions of heavyweights such as Andy Warhol are regularly programmed. Though it is not located close to the other cultural areas of Shanghai, it is well worth a visit for its free entry and seven floors of art.
Add: Power Station of Art, Lane 20, Huayuangang Road, near Miaojiang Road, Huangpu district, Shanghai
Contact: 0086 021 3127 8535
Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) Shanghai
The Museum of Contemporary Art is a veritable greenhouse of art, a small gem of a gallery situated in the picturesque setting of the People’s Park, the cultural heart of the city. Founded in 2005 by the Samuel Kung Foundation, it is the first non-profit, independent gallery for contemporary art in Shanghai.
Inspired by the newfound creativity and spirit of artistic expression in China, MoCA seeks to open a cultural dialogue between Chinese and international art and design. Exhibitions are diverse, ranging from cutting edge work from established and emerging artists, to retrospectives from the leading lights of the design world, such as Salvatore Ferragamo, Chanel and Pixar, and acclaimed artists such as Kusama Yayoi.
The gallery also hosts its own biennale, MoCA Envisage, which looks at the current state and direction of Chinese contemporary art. Don’t miss the beautiful vista from MoCA’s rooftop patio and bar.
Add: MoCA Shanghai, People’s Park, 231 Nanjing West Road, Shanghai
Contact: 0086 021 6327 9900
The Shanghai Gallery of Art is a chic private gallery located in the historic Three on the Bund complex. Designed by acclaimed architect Michael Graves, it is a bright, 1000-square-metre space with an industrial look, high ceilings and concrete walls – a structure to contrast and complement the high-end luxury of the surrounding Bund area.
First opened in 2004, SGA focuses on reclaiming Asian contemporary art and Chinese artists, showing work from famed creators such as Zhang Xiaogang and Gu Dexin. Known for its quality programming and interest in experimentation and interdisciplinary exhibitions, SGA also hosts prominent international artists such as Anish Kapoor and Richard Wilson.
Add: Shanghai Gallery of Art, 3rd Floor, Three on the Bund, 3 Zhongshan Dongyi Road, Shanghai
Contact: 0086 021 6321 5757
Add: Unit 1-311, 1933 Shanghai, 611 Liyang Road, Shanghai
Contact: 0086 021 3258 2558
Established in 2011, this young institution punches above its weight. Housed in a three-storey building hidden down a lane in the French Concession, it is one the few Shanghai galleries whose activities reach beyond its own walls. Founded by Leo Xu, a curator, photographer and writer, the gallery represents young Chinese and international artists, and has an interest in the experiences of the Chinese diaspora from around the world.
Leo Xu Projects has also participated in Art Basel, Frieze New York, and biennales such as Venice, Sydney and Performa in New York. Additionally, its offsite work is extensive, with projects such as Shanghai Surprise at the K11 Art Mall: a group exhibition inspired by the changing cultural landscape of the city, featuring young Chinese and expat authors closely affiliated with the city, and a mobile library archive.
Add: Leo Xu Projects, Lane 49, Building 3, Fuxing Xi Road, Xuhui district, Shanghai
Contact: 0086 021 3461 1245
The Minsheng Art Museum was established in 2008 and is based in the Red Town Arts Precinct. With a strikingly futuristic exterior, this museum was converted from an old steel factory and comprises one main exhibition hall and four smaller halls. It is also designed as a community space, with a workshop area, café, bookshop, reading room, courtyard and offices. The museum curates quality, experimental art, and champions Shanghai-based artists. But it shines in its educational programme, which features retrospectives such as the 2011 exhibition on video art, Moving Image in China: 1988-2011.
Add: Minsheng Art Museum, Building F, 570 West Huaihai Road, near Hongqiao Road, Changning district, Shanghai
Contact: 0086 021 6282 8729