In 2012, quite a number of collectors had founded their private art galleries. Those founders of private art galleries wanted to open their collections to the public. However, the will of increasing cultural quality met some cruel challenges. They got lost in traps of capital and policies. Deficiencies of related laws have caused difficulties in the process of operation and circulation. How can private art galleries maintain sustainable development when they appeal for culture in reality conditions? As one of the top collectors in China, Mr. Bao Dingshan is going to play the role as the curator of Xinjiang Guanghui Art Gallery, which will be begun on construction in 2013. From a collector to a curator, how is he going to face the sustainable development of private art gallery?
To continuously develop an art gallery, we must combine “theory ahead”, framework establishing and sustainable measures properly.
Private art galleries might have appeared relatively earlier in Italy. In China, the earliest private art gallery might be the Nantong Museum founded by Zhang Jian, the number one scholar in late Qing dynasty. It was located in Jiangsu China. “To put theory ahead of the rest” means to found a private art gallery, it’s vital to be clear about what kind of art gallery you do want. Actually, there are a number of collectors from China want to donate their collections to national art galleries. However, it’s a pity that state-owned art galleries usually keep those donated collections away from the public and just showcase them on some big days. In this case, those collections are basically not able to be shared with the public.
The issue of sustainable development of private art galleries may be very acute. Friends of mine who have been to some private art galleries found that there were very few collections. Those galleries were just impossible to be continued. Then, as a private art gallery, how can Xinjiang Guanghui Art Gallery keep its development sustainable? We think that theory should go ahead of the rest. Our corporation is located a minority region in Western China. After 20-year development, it is being scaled up. Behind this, we have got a lot of help and support from people and government. As a corporation, we are bearing social responsibilities. So we are founding an art gallery to share art with locals. Especially on the premise of large-scale of development in western China, western regions are almost deserts of culture without any nice art work or art gallery. So, we this is what we aim to do.
These days, however, I have found some trend not wise. Many of curators of art galleries are just like bosses of real-estate, desiring to build an art gallery beautifully or invite a globally famous architect to design it. They think it will help win fame. Though we also need nice appearance for museums, I personally think that it’s more important to excellent collections.
It’s not easy to pick collections. In my opinion, in the several thousand years China has experienced, the 100 years of 20th century is the greatest, within which Chinese people ended the 2500-year-old feudal system, founded the Republic of China, changed into socialist society with public ownership and last it until now. Meanwhile, a great number of masters and celebrities had appeared. Sun Yat-sen, Mao Zedong, as well as Jiang Jieshi are the revolutionaries who had made history. As for painters, there were also many masters who had started their own art schools from 1900 to 2000. We have chosen Wu Changshuo, Qi Baishi, Huang Binhong, Xu Beihong, Pan Tianshou, Fu Baoshi, Zhang Daqian, Shilu, Lin Fengmian and Li Keran, the ten masters having established reputation in these one hundred years, as our collecting directions.
To achieve sustainable development for an art museum, we must integrate putting theory ahead, framework construction and following measures. Theory comes first, because we can construct an excellent framework only led by theory, and only in a framework can we carry out measures. We are keeping the amount of art works steady, from 150 to 200 ones. When there come better works, we pick out some less good ones from our collections and make them available in the market so that we are able to showcase new items to the public and solve capital problems at the same time. One of the most serious problems for some art galleries is that they rely too much on funds from corporations. Real-estate merchants were able to support the development of art galleries for they had earned a lot from the market, however, because of national macro-control, nowadays corporations are short of funds and it has led to problems in art galleries’ operation.
Among the sustainable measures I prefer, there are two ways I want to share with you. Firstly, it’s a good idea to buy works of same types, because painters like repeating the works they are proud of. For example, I had bought two paintings of bulls by Mr. Pan Tianshou within 7 days. Probably, we can keep one and sell the other in the future for 10 year’s expense of our museum. Meanwhile, timing of purchasing collections is also important. Buy it when others don’t, or you can also participate when things are sold in high prices. That is because some works are unique, impossible to be met again. Another example from us, we once spent 260 million on several works of Mr. Xu Beihong which had been accessed as national first class culture relics. Extending from that, we had published catalogs, held an exhibition tour and lent the paintings to other museums, from which we have earned some funds for our museum.
We think that art galleries should be non-profit and professional, and stabilize the quality and quantity of collections with self-capital and self-effort. As becoming a cultural giant is being encouraged in our country, I strongly suggest that government should learn form tax policies of western countries and cut or cancel taxes when funds are offered to meet needs of culture or education development. Then I think a large amount of private art galleries and universities would appear and be operated better.