Meanwhile, the larger cultural district of West Bund has welcomed new galleries and museums to set up shop along the waterfront—the most significant addition this year being the West Bund Art Museum. On Wednesday night, exhibitors and collectors celebrated the opening of the fair in this forthcoming,
–designed museum’s shell. Next year, the Centre Pompidou
will begin a renewable, five-year run in the space. Between West Bund’s expansion, the opening of the 12th Shanghai Biennale, and the sixth edition of the Art021
fair, which opened to VIPs one day after West Bund, on Thursday, all eyes are on Shanghai this week.
China’s share of the art market has also been expanding, even as the country’s economic growth slows. It pulled ahead of the U.K. to become the second-biggest market worldwide in 2017, according to The Art Market | 2018, a report compiled by arts economist Clare McAndrew. With a 21% slice of the action, or $13.2 billion in sales, China’s art market is now second only to the United States.
Dealers at the VIP preview of the fair said increasing demand from an ever more serious and free-spending class of collectors in China has allowed a regional fair like West Bund—which focuses on Asian collectors rather than trying to lure the jetset from Europe and America—to expand at such a rapid pace. Whether or not they have already hired a local representative or opened up an actual gallery in the region, fairs like West Bund and Art021 offer a foothold and opportunity to experiment in this important market.