Shanghai’s Thumb Plaza Spotlights the Role of Art in China’s Development
Susan Moore in the Financial Times looks at Shanghai’s Zendai MoMA, the pet project of Dai Zhikang, the 44-year-old developer and accidental art collector:
“When I went to the Shanghai Art Fair in 2002 I found a piece by the French sculptor César Baldaccini, ‘Thumb’. It was easy to understand and I figured out that it would be very popular with the public, so I bought it for the plaza. The unveiling ceremony got a lot of media coverage. From that time on, people have presumed that I was a very big collector and I have been deluged with material.”
In fact, he did go on to buy more international art for himself. “Then I gradually began to think about the local culture developing. I found that local Chinese contemporary artists had begun to be very hot. I tried to catch up, but I have been very slow. I have no background in this field.” He has bought more classical Chinese art. “I have even used my property in exchange for collections of classical and modern Chinese ink paintings,” he smiles.
“Contemporary art is still very new for the general public here, and it is not very popular,” he explains. “It is important for us not only to have exhibitions but to educate too. We invite students and their parents. The majority still do not understand. We need to continue to do this day by day, year by year. I made the decision that so long as my company can support it, we will do this forever. This town is always talking about money. I realise culture, art, spirit, are much more important.”
Zendai MoMA is slated to open in March 2010.
Food for China’s soul (Financial Times)