Ullens Center for Contemporary Art

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UCCA Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA)
EstablishedNovember 2007
Location 798 Art Zone, Beijing
Coordinates 39°59′21″N116°29′17″E / 39.989057°N 116.48793°E / 39.989057; 116.48793
Visitors905,023 (2018) [1]
Founder Guy and Myriam Ullens
Director Philip Tinari
Website http://www.ucca.org.cn/en

UCCA Center for Contemporary Art or UCCA (simplified Chinese :尤伦斯当代艺术中心; traditional Chinese :尤倫斯當代藝術中心; pinyin :yóu lún sī dāng dài yì shù zhōng xīn) is a leading Chinese independent institution of contemporary art. Founded in 2007 out of a commitment to bring Chinese contemporary art into global dialogue, it has since become a cultural landmark for Beijing, a conduit for international exchange, and an incubator for new talent. Located at the heart of the 798 Art Zone in, China, [2] it welcomes more than one million visitors a year. [3] Originally known as the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, UCCA underwent a major restructuring in 2017 and now operates as the UCCA Group, comprising two distinct entities: UCCA Foundation, a registered non-profit that organizes exhibitions and research, stages public programs, and undertakes community outreach; and UCCA Enterprises, a family of art-driven retail and educational ventures. UCCA's work grows from its core belief that new art can change lives, broaden perspectives, and enrich the conversation between China and the world.

Simplified Chinese characters Standardized Chinese characters developed in mainland China

Simplified Chinese characters are standardized Chinese characters prescribed in the Table of General Standard Chinese Characters for use in mainland China. Along with traditional Chinese characters, they are one of the two standard character sets of the contemporary Chinese written language. The government of the People's Republic of China in mainland China has promoted them for use in printing since the 1950s and 1960s to encourage literacy. They are officially used in the People's Republic of China and Singapore.

Traditional Chinese characters Traditional Chinese characters

Traditional Chinese characters are Chinese characters in any character set that does not contain newly created characters or character substitutions performed after 1946. They are most commonly the characters in the standardized character sets of Taiwan, of Hong Kong and Macau. The modern shapes of traditional Chinese characters first appeared with the emergence of the clerical script during the Han Dynasty, and have been more or less stable since the 5th century.

Pinyin Chinese romanization scheme for Mandarin

Hanyu Pinyin, often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese in mainland China and to some extent in Taiwan. It is often used to teach Standard Mandarin Chinese, which is normally written using Chinese characters. The system includes four diacritics denoting tones. Pinyin without tone marks is used to spell Chinese names and words in languages written with the Latin alphabet, and also in certain computer input methods to enter Chinese characters.



In November 2007, [2] out of a commitment to bring Chinese contemporary art into global dialogue, Belgian art collector Guy Ullens and his wife Myriam Ullens invested major resources in the founding of UCCA. UCCA's opening exhibition, curated by Guy and Myriam Ullens, alongside Foundation director and veteran of the Chinese avant-garde Fei Dawei, was entitled “’85 New Wave: The Birth of Chinese Contemporary Art,” and was the first museum show to explore this artistic movement of the 1980s. In 2008, French critic and curator Jérôme Sans arrived as UCCA's first director, taking steps to open the Center to a larger public with bold, popular exhibitions by key Chinese and international figures including Yan Pei-ming, Mona Hatoum, Qiu Zhijie, Olafur Eliasson, Liu Xiaodong, and Wang Jianwei.

Guy Ullens Belgian art collector

Baron Guy François Edouard Marie Ullens de Schooten Whettnall is a Belgian art collector, philanthropist, and former businessperson.

Myriam Ullens

Baroness Myriam Ullens de Schooten Whettnall is a German-born Belgian entrepreneur engaged in art, fashion and philanthropy.

Fei Dawei is a Paris-based art critic and curator. Born in 1954, Shanghai, he attended the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing in 1985 and belonged to the first generation of art critics and curators in China after the Cultural Revolution. Being largely involved in the 1985-1989 New Wave Movement, often known as the '85 New Wave, Fei is a pioneer of the field who participated in the organization of many influential events in the history of contemporary Chinese art. He is best known for his curatorial works overseas in both Europe and Asia. He emphasizes cross-border cultural communication and denies the idea of "cultural exiles" come up with other domestic critics.

In 2012, UCCA began its second chapter under the joint leadership of May Xue and Philip Tinari, focused on bringing the Center closer to its public and honing its operational model. [4] Together, they introduced initiatives such as the Patrons Council, the first donor group of its kind in China, and the annual Gala and Benefit Auction, which quickly became a key source of support for the Center's ongoing development. The exhibition program continued to grow in scale, featuring internationally recognized artists including Gu Dexin, Tino Sehgal, Xu Zhen, Liu Wei, William Kentridge, Robert Rauschenberg, and Zeng Fanzhi, as well as periodic research-based surveys and an ongoing series of project-based solo exhibitions focused on young Chinese artists.

May Xue

May Xue (born July 5, 1973) was the CEO of the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, China from 2011 to 2017. Prior to becoming CEO, Xue was the UCCA Store retail director. In 2015, Xue was named one of the 7Women in Contemporary Chinese Art You Need to Know by ArtNet News.

Philip Tinari is a notable writer, critic, art curator, and expert in Chinese contemporary art. Based in Beijing since 2001, Tinari is currently director and CEO of the UCCA Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) in Beijing.

Tino Sehgal is an artist of German and Indian descent, based in Berlin, who describes his work as "constructed situations". He is also thought of as a choreographer who makes dance for the museum setting.

In June 2017, a group of China-based investors came together to restructure UCCA, separating its commercial and non-profit functions, ensuring its long- term presence in the 798 Art District, and securing its future vision. In 2017, UCCA Director Philp Tinari served as guest co-curator at the Guggenheim exhibition, alongside Alexandra Munroe and Hou Hanru, “Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World,” the most comprehensive institutional survey show of Chinese art ever to be mounted in the United States, and a corrective to what Tinari views as narrow, American views of Chinese Contemporary Art.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Art museum in Manhattan, New York City

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, often referred to as The Guggenheim, is an art museum located at 1071 Fifth Avenue on the corner of East 89th Street in the Upper East Side neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. It is the permanent home of a continuously expanding collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, early Modern and contemporary art and also features special exhibitions throughout the year. The museum was established by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in 1939 as the Museum of Non-Objective Painting, under the guidance of its first director, the artist Hilla von Rebay. It adopted its current name after the death of its founder, Solomon R. Guggenheim, in 1952.

Alexandra Munroe is a curator and historian of modern and contemporary art from Asia as well as a scholar of world art studies and transnational art history.

Hou Hanru art critic, curator, art director of MAXXI

Hou Hanru is an international art curator and critic based in San Francisco, Paris and Rome. He is Artistic Director of the MAXXI in Rome, Italy.

Site and Space

UCCA spreads across the original chambers of Factory 798, which is now Beijing's 798 Art District. designed by East German architects from the Dessau Design Institute—the postwar institutional successor to the Bauhaus—and first opened in 1957, UCCA's spaces maintain traces of their industrial past. Fully renovated by architects Jean-Michel Wilmotte and Qingyun Ma in 2007, UCCA occupies a total area of 8,000 square meters, including a Great Hall of 1800 square meters, other exhibition halls of different sizes, a 150-seat auditorium equipped with film projection and simultaneous interpretation facilities, a store, a café, a children's education center with eight classrooms, and further areas for gatherings, meetings, and evens. [5] [6] In 2018, UCCA has enlisted the help of OMA to completely redesign its spaces, adding a research library, a new café, and a completely upgraded entrance area and exhibition halls.

Bauhaus Famous German art school that combined crafts and the fine arts

The Staatliches Bauhaus, commonly known as the Bauhaus, was a German art school operational from 1919 to 1933 that combined crafts and the fine arts, and was famous for the approach to design that it publicized and taught.

Jean-Michel Wilmotte French architect

Jean-Michel Wilmotte is a French architect.

Qingyun Ma is a Chinese architect.


UCCA's four main spaces play host each year to around fifteen exhibitions of varying scale. Educational and interpretive programs expand the reach of these displays, bringing viewers into closer contact with the ideas behind the work on view. As an international museum operating on Chinese soil, UCCA has a focus on recent developments and historical movements in Chinese contemporary art, pairing this with exhibitions devoted to major trends and figures from around the region and the world.


The Center has presented more than a hundred exhibitions and attracted more than 4 million visitors. Beginning its curatorial program with “85 New Wave: The Birth of Chinese Contemporary Art”, it has presented large-scale group shows “Breaking Forecast: 8 Key Figures of China’s New Generation Artists” (2009), “ON | OFF: China’s Young Artists in Concept and Practice” (2013), and “Hans van Dijk: 5000 Names” (2014); along with solo exhibitions “Liu Xiaodong: Hometown Boy” (2010), “Wang Jianwei: Yellow Signal” (2011), “Gu Dexin: The Important Thing Is Not The Meat” (2012), “Wang Xingwei” (2013), “Xu Zhen: a MadeIn Company Production” (2014), and “Liu Wei: Colors” (2015).

Liu Xiaodong is a contemporary Chinese artist.

Xu Zhen Chinese artist

Xu Zhen, born in 1977, is a multimedia artist living and working in Shanghai, China.

Liu Wei is an artist based in Beijing.

It has also presented the international surveys “Inside A Book A House of Gold: Artists’ Editions for Parkett" (2012), “Indian Highway” (2012), “DUCHAMP and/or/in CHINA” (2013), and “The Los Angeles Project” (2014). It has served as a platform for the works of Olafur Eliasson, Tino Sehgal, Tatsuo Miyajima, Taryn Simon, and Sterling Ruby, introducing China to these significant figures in contemporary art.

On the 11th of February 2017, the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art received the 2016 Global Fine Art Awards for Best Contemporary / Postwar / SoloArtist “Rauschenberg in China”. [7] [8] [9]

Public Programs

UCCA organizes a wide range of programs and initiatives that aim to enrich and diversify visitor experience and improve public access to art. Events including lectures, panel discussions, film screenings, performances, workshops, festivals, and community initiatives allow the museum to function as an open classroom for the greater public, as well as further dialogue and exchange in the contemporary art world.

Community Initiatives

UCCA implements a number of community initiatives that aim to make art more accessible to the public. Recurring programs include discounted or complementary ticketing for visitors with disabilities or facing financial barriers, artist-led public programming, alternative gallery tours, and free chamber music performances by local conservatory students. Ongoing initiatives entail the development of digital and educational resources, and measures to provide access services for all of UCCA's exhibitions and events.


UCCA's research department focuses on organizing scholarly programming around UCCA exhibitions, and on organizing the ten years of archival material that the institution has already produced, with the aim of making it easily accessible online to students and researchers. In 2019, it will open a library and research space on its premises, featuring an extensive collection of physical and digital materials focusing on the three areas of UCCA's own history, Chinese contemporary art, and art more generally, seeks to contribute to the curatorial, critical, and scholarly conversation in a more lasting way than the exhibitions from which they grow.

UCCA Store

Founded in 2007, UCCA Store has become a platform for dialogue in the contemporary design industry, a supporter of emerging local brands, and a champion for an urban lifestyle. With a built-in bookstore and art space, the store carries handpicked design products from around the world, offering limited edition artworks, original designs, brand collaborations, furnishings, collectible books, and exhibition related merchandise.

The architectural regeneration in 2018 will significantly expand UCCA Store's floor area, adding a café where visitors can enjoy design products and books. UCCA Store is also focused on developing a new range of accessible products in conjunction with the exhibition program, and on significantly expanding its digital footprint on platforms including TMall and WeChat.


UCCA also offers mainland China's only independently developed, museum-based education program for ages 2–8, bringing together a team of artists, curators, and educational professionals, to create a set of workshops and art classes. Each year, UCCA Education mounts two Children's Exhibitions, which are open to the public, and showcase artworks created by students.


In May 2014, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei accused UCCA of self-censorship when curators decided to omit his name from a public newsletter announcing the opening of an exhibition in memory of artist/curator Hans van Dijk. [10] Ai had originally contributed three works to the exhibition, including the first piece he ever exhibited in Europe as part of an exhibition curated by van Dijk in 1993, but removed the works during the opening ceremony, "in defiance of UCCA's portrayal of Chinese contemporary art.” [11]

In September 2017, the Guggenheim decided to pull three major works from “Art and China After 1989: Theater of the World,” co-curated by Philip Tinari. This, together with the Walker Art Cente r's recent move to dismantle Sam Durant's sculpture “Scaffold” in response to protests, has art leaders concerned that museums are setting worrisome precedents when threatened with organized pressure tactics, and led to widespread debate about art, censorship, and cultural norms.

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Feng Boyi is an eminent independent art curator and critic in China. He is normally in charge of museums or art collections for primarily contemporary Chinese art. He has worked several times with artist Ai Weiwei with publishing his journals illegally or working with him in exhibitions and has organized many controversial art exhibitions in China. He has been assistant editor of the China Artists' Association newsletter Artist's Communication since 1988. He has also edited and published numerous catalogues and papers on art and established the Artists' Alliance, a major online forum for contemporary art in China. Feng Boyi has been known to be an instigator to the up-and-coming contemporary art movement in Beijing, starting with publishing articles and journals from artists Ai Weiwei and Xu Bing.

Ai Weiwei Chinese Conceptual artist

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  1. Top 100 Art Museum Attendance, The Art Newspaper , 2018. Retrieved July 26, 2019.
  2. 1 2 Kennedy, Randy (July 26, 2007). "A Belgian Couple Will Give Beijing a New Home for Contemporary Art". New York Times . Retrieved October 30, 2012.
  3. Everett-Green, Robert (October 24, 2012). "Is China building too many museums too fast?". The Globe and Mail . Retrieved October 30, 2012.
  4. Greenberger, Alex (2017-04-17). "Ullens Center for Contemporary Art CEO May Xue Resigns". ARTnews. Retrieved 2017-10-06.
  5. Mu, Xuequan (November 2, 2007). "Ullens art center to debut in China". Xinhua. Archived from the original on November 3, 2007. Retrieved 5 November 2012.
  6. http://ucca.org.cn/en/about/index/
  7. "Winners of 2016 Global Fine Art Awards Revealed".
  8. "Rauschenberg in China - UCCA". 11 December 2015.
  9. "2016 Award Winners ‹ Global Fine Art Awards". globalfineartawards.org.
  10. "Ai Weiwei accuses UCCA of self-censorship, tells director not to 'ruin' himself with 'Chineseness'".
  11. "Ai Weiwei Pulls Work from Hans van Dijk Show". www.randian-online.com.

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