There’s a thriving artists’ quarter on the banks of the Suzhou Creek, and the place to see it is No. 50 Monganshan Road, known as Shanghai M50 Art Community. Once an old textile mill, the complex now houses galleries, studios, art spaces, and some cafes and restaurants, and this is where you’ll find the best of Shanghai’s contemporary artists as well as emerging talent.
A community of artists who have set up shop in old factory buildings are internationally recognized and have become a tourist attraction. This is because the artists display and sell their artwork, will often talk to visiting tourists, and major Shanghai art galleries are in the complex.
You might find it exciting to wander through the sometimes chaotic area and in and out of working studios and display spaces that are both large and small.
The range of media is equally varied. It includes paintings of every description, sculpture using a wide variety of materials, photographs, textiles and experimental work. It’s a fun place to visit that offers an interesting contrast from the more traditional aspects of China that visitors often concentrate on. The best modern work is stunning.
- Started in the year 2000.
- About 100 promising artists.
- Several famous modern artists.
- Several art galleries.
- Some cafes and restaurants.
- Supported by visitor purchases and gallery visitors.
A lot of artists thrive in a place where they can rub shoulders, communicate and brainstorm with other artists and meet their audience. They also need a place where they can display their works to interested tourists and sell their work to customers to support themselves.
For this reason, keeping shop in art-trendy Shanghai and in the 50 Moganshan art hub is a priority for many modern Chinese artists. They get the benefit of displaying their work to international tourists for international exposure. It is said that most of the 400 or so visitors who come in daily are foreign tourists.
Ding Yi, Zhou Tiehai, and Xu Zhen are several of the well-known artists who have set up shop there. Some cafes and restaurants are in the complex. You might be able to meet Chinese artists in them or at least meet other art lovers.
Major Shanghai Galleries
The major galleries include ShanghArt Gallery, Eastlink Gallery and ArtScene.
ShanghArt (Bldg 16 & 18) is a China based gallery with two “spaces” at 50 Moganshan. It was listed by Thames & Hudson as one of the world’s top 75 influential art galleries. It presents the work of about 40 mainly Chinese artists, though some foreign artists’ works are included.
Eastlink (5th fl, Bldg 6) rents 900 square meters of space. It sponsors exhibitions of both foreign and local art. One of the goals of the gallery is to promote Chinese appreciation of the work of foreign artists.
Factory, office, and warehouse space of Shangtex, a state-owned textile company, were closed in 1999. The company still owns the space though, and it profits from the rental money.
In 2000, local contemporary artist Xue Song was attracted by the low rental. He moved in, and soon other artists such as Wang Xingwei, Qu Fengguo, and Zhou Tiehai followed suit.
It’s an exciting place to wander. The mill closed in 1999, and the alleys and buildings clearly reflect their industrial past. In 2000 local contemporary artist Xue Song was attracted by the possibilities of the area, and low rental. He moved in, and soon other artists, such as Ding Yi, Qu Fengguo, Wang Xingwei set up studios here too. Thanks to these artists, we are fortunate to appreciate the art collections here, otherwise this wonderful area nurturing new talents and showcasing established artists may have been demolished.
Before long galleries such as the Shanghai Art Gallery, East Link Gallery and Art Scene rented space here, where they display some of the most exciting modern art from M50, Shanghai and China. The galleries are able to foster the connection between their artists and international buyers, and have successfully launched a number of now-famous local artists.
Today graphic designers, architectural workshops and environmental art design companies also rent space, but the real buzz and energy of the place comes from the juxtaposition of well-known artists and aspiring talent. It really is very exciting to wander through the sometimes chaotic area, in and out of working studios and display spaces, both large and small, and to see the work that is being produced here.
Today graphic designers, architectural workshops and environmental art and design companies also rent space. Perhaps they profit from the buzz and energy of the place that comes from the juxtaposition of well-known artists and aspiring talent.
You might be able to purchase a piece you really like. Some of the artworks are appreciating collector’s items. Other works of art may simply be interesting souvenirs of your Shanghai trip or something to decorate your space with.
There are about 100 artists in residence, and with such a range you can take something home from a few dollars up to megabucks for the work of the internationally famous. The range of media is equally varied, and includes paint of every description, sculpture using a wide variety of materials, photography, textiles and experimental work.
This is a fun place to visit, and offers an interesting contrast to the more traditional aspects of China that visitors often concentrate on. And the best of the work being produced here is absolutely stunning.
- Address: 50 Moganshan Road (莫干山路50号), Jingan District.
- Hours: Most galleries are open 10am to 7 pm.
Traveling with China Highlights, you can enjoy as much time as you want for shopping and appreciating these art worsk. Contact us to tailor-make a Shanghai tour including 50 Moganshan Road.
- Best Shanghai Art Galleries — Shanghai’s Art Escapes