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798 ART DISTRICT

Since the first artists set up in Da Shan Zi’s newly vacated 798 factory in 2001, the East German-built industrial compound has become a world-famous center of contemporary Chinese art. Alongside the studios and galleries, there are also chic cafés, bars, and restaurants, not to mention a growing number of designer shops and showrooms. These days the area is popular with tourists, who arrive by the coachload.

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798 Art District

NEED TO KNOW

prac_info 2–4 Jiu Xian Qiao Lu, Da Shan Zi, Chaoyang • Subway: Jiangtai, then walk north for 15 min • Bus: 401, 402, 405, 418, 445, 955, 973, 988, 991

prac_info To Caochangdi: Bus 418 from Dong Zhi Men

prac_info Galleria Continua: 5978 9505; open 11am–6pm Tue–Sun; www.galleriacontinua.com

prac_info UCCA: 5780 0200; open 10am–7pm Tue–Sun; adm ¥60 (free on Thu); www.ucca.org.cn

prac_info Beijing Commune: 8456 2862; open 10am–6pm Tue–Sat; www.beijingcommune.com

prac_info Pace: 5978 9781; open 10am–6pm Tue–Sat; www.pacegallery.com

prac_info Magician Space: 5978 9635; open 10:30am–6:30pm Tue–Sun; www.magician-space.com

Google Map

  • The Ullens Center for Contemporary Art provides free maps of the entire 798 area. Most galleries are open from around 11am to 7pm, and are closed on Mondays.

1. Maoist graffiti

When many of the abandoned factory spaces in the district were being converted and refurbished for use as art galleries, the artists instructed the decorators to leave untouched the giant Maoist slogans that had been lettered on the walls by the former workers at the 798 factory.

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Vibrant graffiti art in the 798 Art District

2. Red Gate Gallery

Google Map

This is Beijing’s first privately-owned contemporary art gallery. It may have moved from its original location, but still promotes young Chinese artists and international cultural exchange, and hosts monthly-changing exhibitions and occasional art discussions.

3. 798 Photo Gallery

Google Map

In addition to regularly changing exhibitions of work by both Chinese and foreign photographers, this gallery also has a couple of mezzanine levels where a selection of photographic prints for sale are displayed.

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Photographs on display

4. AT Café

Google Map

Once an arty canteen, this is now a fashionable café whose notable feature is a bare-brick wall punctured by massive holes. A variety of pizzas and sandwiches, and fantastic coffee are served here.

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The artsy AT Café

5. Galleria Continua

Google Map

Beijing’s outpost of this Italian gallery, in a former munitions factory, aims to stimulate cultural exchanges. It hosts shows by renowned international artists such as Chen Zhen, Antony Gormley, Daniel Buren, and Anish Kapoor.

6. Timezone 8

Google Map

This is a trendy Western and Japanese restaurant that serves imported beers, saké and sochu. It boasts a pleasant terrace, ideal for people-watching, and excellent air-con inside.

7. UCCA

Google Map

The Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) is the largest single venue in this area, and exhibits an eclectic range of unconventional Chinese art. UCCA has an auditorium for lectures and films, a store, and a restaurant.

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An exhibit in the middle of the center

8. Beijing Commune

Google Map

This Bauhaus-style brick building has been promoting aspiring Chinese artists since 2004. It primarily focuses on solo performances.

9. Pace

Google Map

This glamorous global gallery in the 798 Art District showcases the upper echelon of Chinese and Western contemporary art, and it also hosts Beijing Voice, an annual East-West art discussion between industry elites.

10. Magician Space

Google Map

This small avant-garde gallery with a pioneering spirit has hosted a solo exhibition by the controversial Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.

BRAVE NEW WORLDS

1985 marked the arrival of the avant garde in Chinese art, with controversial student graduation shows igniting intense debate in artistic circles. A year later, a New York gallery introduced the new Chinese art to an international audience. Today, China’s art market is the third largest in the world.

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