Michael Xufu Huang has resigned his role and removed his collection from M WOODS, the Beijing museum he cofounded in 2014 with collectors Lin Han and Wanwan Lei. Huang, a trend-setting collector in his mid-twenties, plans to open a museum of his own in the Chinese capital next year. The new institution housing Huang’s collection is slated to open during Beijing Gallery Weekend in late March. In an interview with Artsy, Huang said his decision to split from M WOODS was partly spurred by seeing it become “one of the most established art museums in China,” but also by wanting greater creative control and flexibility.
As a millennial, I want to create a space that is focused on youth culture and new talents, as well as cultivating the new generation of Chinese people on making art a part of their lives. I believe art is about pushing the society forward and proposing new ideas.
Though details of the new institution’s location and programming have not yet been announced, Huang said it will be called X Museum, a name that came about largely by chance. “When we didn’t have a name, my team put ‘xxx museum’ as the title and I thought X would actually be perfect,” he explained, noting that his own name, Xufu, starts with an ‘x.’ He added:
X is two lines crossing, which could be seen as conversations between people, between countries, between generations, between mediums, between disciplines, between chromosomes. Everyone knows about my interest in post-internet art and when X multiplies it becomes a web and hence the internet. Lastly, I think X gives the feeling of being millennial and also it has the X factor—the unknown and enormous new possibilities.
The new museum’s collection numbers about 300 works, and Huang says its programming “will be very multidisciplinary, showing not only artists, but also architects, scientists, engineers and musicians.” He added that his experience on the board of the New Museum in New York City has helped inform his vision for X Museum, as have visits to institutions including the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, the Rubell Family Collection in Miami, and S.M.A.K. in Ghent. Huang’s personal collection includes works by internet and performance artist Amalia Ulman; popular figurative painters Nicolas Party, Julie Curtiss, and Alex Gardner; and also a holographic work by James Turrell and a lithograph by Helen Frankenthaler—famously his first purchase, at age 16.
Huang co-founded M WOODS with his friends, the collecting couple Wanwan Lei and Lin Han, in Beijing’s 798 art district in 2014. The co-founders’ private holdings are the cornerstone of the museum’s collection, and the year after its founding M WOODS received nonprofit status. Its programming has expanded over the years, with special exhibitions devoted to major figures including Andy Warhol, Paul McCarthy, and, currently, David Hockney. “I am really happy to see it grow,” Huang said, “but I think I have a more focused vision that I don’t want to be diluted.”