CAFA Gallery was located at the former site of CAFA, which is an old and busy area on downtown Beijing’s Wangfujing Street (No.5, Xiaowei Lane). Set up in 1953, CAFA Gallery once named CAFA Art Museum, which was the first professional art gallery after the establishment of New China. Famous artists Dong Xiwen, Luo Gongliu and Sun Zixi used to be directors of the Gallery. Over the past semicentennial ups and downs, the Gallery has fulfilled its historic mission in the teaching, research, exhibition, international and domestic art exchange and collection of artworks of CAFA, and played a significant role. It has hold tens of hundreds of various exhibitions and art activities over the past years. Its top-ranking professional level and rigorous academic style enjoys high reputation in the art circle. It also becomes one of the most significant art museums in domestic art circle. In 1998, under the background of the remarkable development of international and domestic art activities and accompanying the expansion of the Gallery’s function and the increase of art exchange activities, CAFA renamed the Gallery as Art Museum officially.
The CAFA Art Museum, since its establishment, has attached great importance to the collection of artworks covering a wide variety of genres and styles from ancient to present, China to western countries, and all art fields. Meanwhile, since CAFA is a national higher fine art institute with comprehensive disciplines. The Art Museum, as a part of the whole teaching institute, some collections of the museum have reflected the development history of China’s art education.
The CAFA Art Museum has collected 13,000 artworks, including the representative works of masters prior to the Qing dynasty and modern & contemporary artists, as well as excellent works of students since the establishment of CAFA, artworks donated by domestic and foreign artists and their families, foreign governments and groups, as well as foreign artworks delivered by Chinese government and other cultural institutions. The category of collections includes traditional Chinese painting, oil painting, print, sculpture, and folk artworks, such as the calendar painting, embroidery, minority dress and appliance, as well as Chinese ancient cultural relics, such as bronze, pottery, carving and rubbings.
Collections of the Art Museum include precious original of European oil paintings, as well as the copies of famous western paintings with research value, which are copied by Chinese oil painters in famous well known museums. The works of artists studying abroad in the early years and Chinese contemporary oil painters reflect the development history of oil paintings from its introduction to China till now. With regard to the collection of Chinese ancient paintings and calligraphies, it has collected the originals of masters of past dynasties, such as Zhou Zhimian, Zhu Da, Xu Gu, Huang Shen, Dong Qichang, Yuan Jiang, Ren Yi and Wu Changshuo. Among them, about 100 paintings and calligraphies of Chinese ancient masters have entered on the national Catalogue of Chinese Ancient Paintings and Calligraphies; some works have been collected into the Complete Treasures of Chinese Fine Arts. Besides the achievement in the collection of ancient paintings and calligraphies, the Art Museum also collects works of representative Chinese artists from the end of Qing Dynasty to the establishment of New China, Chinese painters of the old generations and excellent middle-aged and young Chinese painters. Its collections include works of celebrated masters of traditional Chinese paintings in the 20th century, such as Qi Baishi, Zhang Daqian, Huang Binhong, Lin Fengmian, Wu Zuoren, Li Kuchan, Li Keran and Huang Qiuyuan, as well as works of some contemporary Chinese painters; besides, the Art Museum also has abundant collection of prints, such as woodcarving, engraving and lithograph, reflecting the emerging and prosperous development of print art in China; as well as copies of fresco of grottos and temples, such as Dunhuang, Yongle Palace and Maiji Mountain, copied by contemporary famous artists, such as Dong Xiwen, Ye Qianyu, Liu Lingcang, Xiao Shufang and Zhang Ding. Frescos copied by students of CAFA are also among them.
CAFA Art Museum’s collection of excellent works of graduates is one of the features differentiated it from other museums. The collected excellent works of graduates reflect CAFA’s art education level and characteristics in various periods, which have relatively high art value and strong sense of time, and can be called as an art chronicle of new China.
In order to make the excellent artworks collected serve the society better, the museum also displays our collections by categories for a long or short period of time, such as the display of ancient paintings, display of works of old professors died, and display of excellent works of graduates. Among the dozens of art exhibitions held annually, most are exhibitions of works of teachers, undergraduates and graduates in various departments of CAFA, special exhibitions of painters in and out CAFA, and exhibitions for the art exchange with foreign countries, which have attracted numerous artists and art-lovers both at home and abroad.
Currently, the new CAFA Art Museum has been put into use in October 2008. Situated in Wangjing new campus, the museum newly established is designed by Japanese architect ARATA ISOZAKI, covering an area of 3546 m2, with total floor area of 14777 m2, 2 floor underground and 4 above ground. The museum has comprehensive service facilities, such as the collection warehouse, permanent exhibition hall, temporary exhibition hall, artist studios, lecture hall, conference room, cafeteria and shops. Since the Art Museum ranks top grade across the world no matter in terms of appearance design or internal facilities,it will definitely become another center for domestic and foreign art exchange in Beijing.
The collection warehouse of the CAFA Art Museum, which covers an area of 1,240 m2, adopts the newest information technology and digital management in the world, and has reached the international level in both software and hardware;the 6,000 m2 exhibition and display area of 11m in height is fit for such exhibitions as easel paintings, modern design, multimedia and devices; meanwhile, the lecture hall that can accommodate 380 persons provides a convenient place for academic discussion, special lectures and press conference.
With the completion and use of the new museum, the CAFA Art Museum will, under the vigorous support of the state and CAFA, improve its collection level, service quality, scientific research level and automatic management level in an accelerated pace to open a high-level aesthetics field to the public and a splendid cultural and art palace to the world.