Tale of Two Cities

Tale of Two Cities
Visiting galleries in Beijing’s Factory 798 art district, says PaceWildenstein's chairman, Arne Glimcher, is “much more exciting than seeing young art today in [New York’s] Chelsea.” That is among the reasons that Pace, which operates two locations in Chelsea and one on 57th Street, is opening a space in the area—the first American gallery to do so. Meanwhile, another Chelsea-based dealer, James Cohan, has launched an outpost in Shanghai.

It was only a matter of time before New York galleries began sprouting branches in China, since they’d been showing artists from that country for some time. Pace, for example, recently added Zhang Huan and Zhang Xiaogang to its stable, and it already does business with collectors based in Hong Kong and Taiwan, according to Glimcher. Pace Beijing, a 22,000-square-foot former munitions factory renovated by the New York architect Richard Gluckman, is the size of the gallery’s two Chelsea spaces combined. Overseeing operations there is Leng Lin, the curator and founder of the alternative space Beijing Commune; coordinating with the New York headquarters is Peter Boris, who has been with Pace for some 28 years. “Beijing is a crossroads,” he says, “and being there gives us access” to collectors from various locations in Asia. The inaugural exhibition, opening August 8, just in time for the Olympic Games, will be “Encounters,” featuring portraiture from both Eastern and Western artists, including Chuck Close and Alex Katz.

Shanghai may not have a similarly hopping art district, but it has traditionally served as a gateway to Asia. The few galleries already established there include the well-respected ShanghART; James Cohan is adding a new 3,000-square-foot space in the city’s French Concession area, near the opera and the painting school. Heading up the endeavor is Arthur Solway, a longtime director of the New York gallery.

The first show, which runs from mid-July through August, is “Mining Nature,” a group exhibition of pieces by Richard Long, Roxy Paine and others. “In Shanghai we can expand beyond our usual roster to work with Chinese artists,” says partner Jane Cohan, as well as some “Western artists we can’t show in New York because they have other representation there.”

"Tale of Two Cities" originally appeared in the July 2008 issue of Art+Auction. For a complete list of articles from this issue available on ARTINFO, see Art+Auction's July 2008 Table of Contents.