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All over the world every day we can attend the birth of new important financial and cultural centres. The historical supremacy claimed for a century by the West seems put under strain, even if it's cultural domination has remained a huge pillar for all the developing countries. The scheme is always the same, everywhere capitals are growing more and more, and a greater population means more demand for secondary needs and more investment by big companies. But what role does art play in this great process of urban transformation? 

We have already covered some of these topics with articles like Contemporary Art as a recent massive trend, or by several insights dedicated to specifics world areas, The recent history of the Chinese Contemporary Art Market - The new wave of Contemporary Art in the United Arab, now it's time to shift our gaze on a more specific example, the city of Shanghai.  

Shanghai is a huge metropolis that lives big! With over 26.3 million of citizens, Shanghai is leaving an incredible expansion process as the economic capital of the People's Republic of China. Now Shanghai is one of the most fashionable metropolises in Asia, animated by a stimulating and ever-expanding cultural scene. Nominated "The Paris of the East" every day the city host a succession of events, exhibitions and opening of new cultural spaces. The profile of Chinese "nouveaux riches" is increasingly linked to contemporary art, as evidenced by the recent sales boom in auction houses such as Christie's and Sotheby's. Art is seen as a profitable investment, a tool for self-promotion a brand reputation operation. But beyond the logic of the market, contemporary art in Shanghai has become a real attraction which leads millions of Chinese and foreign tourists from all over the world every year.

Art Spaces in Shanghai

The city is full of spaces and new areas dedicated to cultural life. From the Rockbund Art Museum and the Yuz Museum or UCCA Center for Contemporary Art to the Moganshan Lu M50 district, a sort of Shanghai "Soho" brings together the great community of emerging artists and talents in old industrial buildings converted into galleries, studios, laboratories, bars and restaurants. And how not to mention the spectacular Power Station of Arts - a power station converted into an exhibition centre of over 40,000 m2, which testifies to the ambition and visionary character of local cultural politics. However, the Power Station of Arts is an isolated case as it is the only project to have been funded by the government. All the others are the result of investments by great Chinese magnates: Adrian Cheng for the K11, Dai Zhikang for the Shanghai Himalayas Museum, Liu Yiqian for the Long Museum. The list can continue with the Fosun Foundation Shanghai or Prada Rong Zhai (don't miss our latest article Venice 2019 | Prada Vs Pinault). 


Prada Rong Zhai in Shanghai. Courtesy Prada Rong Zhai


Moganshan-Lu-M50. Courtesy Servantrip website.


Among the coolest neighbourhoods, deserves a special mention the Pudong district, that besides having literally changed the city skyline with building as the Oriental Pearl Tower, the Jin Mao Tower, the Shanghai World Financial Center, and the Shanghai Tower; now is growing also in terms of Art. Indeed, in 2021 this area will host the project signed by Jean Nouvel for the Shanghai Pudong Museum of Art (PMoA). This new public art Institution will see the partnership with Britain's national museum of modern and contemporary art, Tate Modern. Zhu Di, general director of the art department of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of China, said: "We are delighted to have Tate as a consultant to the Pudong Museum of Art and to be signing the MoU. Civilizations are enriched through learning from each other. When it opens, the PMoA will be a stage for dialogue through art, between China and other countries." Read more...


The Tate's Kerstin Mogull (left) signs a new cooperation deal with Bao Shuyi, vice-general manager of Lujiazui Group. Photo provided for China Daily 


In conclusion
So, will Shanghai be the new capital of contemporary art? With Futuristic spaces, huge budgets, ambitious projects and exhibitions designed to amaze, it will truly become the driving city of the art world? Maybe from now, It is difficult to say that with certainty, but in any case, it has become an obligatory stop for art lovers and the merely curious in search of eccentric and surprising exhibitions.

Cover images: Shanghai skyline /VCG Photo. Courtesy CGTN - Shanghai  K11


Stay Tuned on Kooness magazine for more exciting news from the art world.

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