Hong Kong upcoming museum scores coup with Uli Sigg collection

M+, Hong Kong’s future museum for visual culture, has scored a coup by getting a major donation of Chinese contemporary art from Uli Sigg, the famed Swiss collector.

The collection donation, conservatively valued at HKD1.3 billion (USD 163 million), includes 1,463 artworks. Art lovers will have to wait until 2017, the date when the museum will open, to see all these works.

Under a part gift/ part purchase agreement, M+ acquired a further 47 works from Dr. Sigg’s collection for the sum of CHF 22 million (USD 22.7 million). Part gift/ part purchase is an increasingly common international model for museums to obtain a collection. The main aspect of this model is that the museum clearly shows its commitment to the collection.

The Sigg Collection is universally recognised as the largest, most comprehensive and most important collection in the world of Chinese contemporary art from the 1970s to the present. Consisting of works by approximately 350 artists – many of which are large-scale paintings or full room installations – it has been systematically built as a coherent museum-quality collection since the early 1990s, representing the historical development of contemporary art in China as a whole.

The collection comprises major works by leading artists, among them Ai Weiwei, Ding Yi, Fang Lijun, Geng Jianyi, Gu Wenda, Huang Yongping, Liu Wei, Wang Guangyi, Xu Bing, Yang Shaobin, Yue Minjun, Yu Youhan, Zeng Fanzhi, Zhang Peili, Zhang Xiaogang, as well as Hong Kong artists Lee Kit and Pak Sheung-Chuen, and many younger generation artists.

Dr Uli Sigg said, “In the early 90s I realised that nobody was collecting Chinese contemporary art even remotely systematically – neither individuals nor institutions in China or abroad. That seemed odd for the biggest cultural space in the world, and for what will be in hindsight a very important period. So I decided to change my approach and collect like an institution would: documenting the art production of China from day one to today – along the timeline, across all media, rather than according to my personal taste as a private collector would. I set out to create that ‘document’ about Chinese contemporary art that is missing in China, and missing outside as well."

"By joining forces with M+, the art works will ultimately come full circle back to China as I have always hoped they would. My intention is to return something to China for what it has allowed me to experience over the last 33 years: an incredible journey, whose most intense core has been formed by so many encounters with Chinese artists. This is my contribution: to enable these artists to have a space within M+ where they will communicate with an international audience, and where they will meet with a Chinese public. Having explored various opportunities, I am convinced that there is no better platform for my collection and for Chinese contemporary art than that which M+ can provide.”