798 Art District in Beijing
My motivation to visit Beijing’s famous places came back when the sun reappeared early this spring. One of my last visit in May brought me to the famous artist corner in North East Beijing (15min taxi ride from Sanyuanqiao), 798 Art District.
I will start with a brief history of this district: It was initially a district dedicated to electronic and metalworking industries. East Germans helped Chinese to build and develop these activities in middle fifties. It is a concrete example of the Communism expansion during these years.
Several years later, beginning of eighties, the industrial activity decreased and the artists decided to move to the old factories. These sites were a good location for the development of Chinese artistic “Avant-garde”.
The district was recently fit out by government and officially opened to public visitors. Numerous art galleries, restaurants and art shops are now located there.
“798 Art District” name was chosen following an old factory name which is still open for viewing, the 798 (more than 100 were opened during the great years) but the old complex name was initially “Joint Factory 718″.
It is really pleasant to walk around this full of life district. Several old factories are still there, it give a special feeling to look at artwork in middle of rust chimney and big buildings. Works of art are present just around the corner of each street: paint tags, Bumble B statue, a leap wolf pack, red dinosaurs…
You can spend several hours walking in the neighborhood without viewing each piece of artwork as the site is on several hectares. A stop on a restaurant terrace for lunch or a drink is necessary to feel the atmosphere of 798 Art District. After that you can buy a souvenir in one of several Modern Art boutiques.
Moreover, you can visit incredible number of Art gallery (for free). The exhibits are temporary, so you can come back again few weeks later and start from scratch your art tour.
798 Art District is always on my top list sites to visit when people ask me recommendations. I will go back there several times without any hesitation.
More pictures are available on my Flickr’s page.