Meet 8 Influential Collectors Behind Taiwan’s Growing Art Scene

These are they key players who organizers of the inaugural Taipei Dandai art fair hope will flock to the exhibition.

A scene from the city of Taipei. Courtesy Taipei Dangdai
A scene from the city of Taipei. Courtesy Taipei Dangdai

When it comes to major art fairs in southeast Asia, Art Basel Hong Kong sets the tone. Since it launched in 2013, the fair has made the city into a true destination on the annual art fair circuit.

That’s a pattern the organizers of the inaugural UBS-sponsored Taipei Dangdai art fair, which opens this week (January 18–20, with a VIP preview slated for today, January 17), hope to follow.

Installation view of ROH Gallery, Young Galleries Sector. Photo courtesy of Taipei Dengdai.

“Taiwan has a very strong domestic collector base that’s been internationally engaged for many years,” the fair’s founding director, Magnus Renfrew, told artnet in a recent interview. “It’s very interesting that Sotheby’s and Christie’s, for example, always tour the highlights of their spring and autumn Impressionist and Modern and postwar sales in Taipei.”

So who might the fair’s organizers hope to attract? Below, we take a look at some of the top collectors in the region.

Pierre T.M. Chen. Courtesy of the Yageo Foundation.

Pierre T.M. Chen. Courtesy of the Yageo Foundation.

Pierre Chen

Chen is the founder of Yageo, an electronics component maker that he started in 1977 and took public 16 years later. Forbes estimates his current net worth at $3 billion. Having scaled back his executive responsibilities in recent years, Chen reportedly has more time and money than ever to pursue his passion for art. He is known to be a devoted postwar and Contemporary art collector with works by Francis Bacon, Peter Doig, Henry Moore, Gerhard Richter, and Mark Rothko, some of which are showcased at his sprawling home in the mountains of Taipei. Chen also favors Chinese-French painter Sanyu and owns a large bronze by Aristide Maillol.

A tailor at work for Lee Mingwei's <i>The Mending Project</i> (2009-2017) loaned to the 2017 Venice Biennale by Rudy Tseng. Image: Ben Davis.

A tailor at work on Lee Mingwei’s The Mending Project (2009–13), which went lent to the 2017 Venice Biennale by collector Rudy Tseng. Image: Ben Davis.

Rudy Tseng

Tseng, an independent curator and a full-time art collector, also serves on the advisory board of the Taipei Dangdai art fair. He began his collection by focusing on Young British Artists in the 1990s, but has since broadened his collection to include works by artists such as David Batchelor, Hsieh Tehching, Chen Chieh-Jen, Michael Lin, and Tsui Kuang-Yu. In 2017, he loaned Lee Mingwei’s The Mending Project (2009–13) to the Venice Biennale. In a recent interview, Tseng said his current priority is “supporting the Taiwanese art scene and Taiwanese artists internationally.”

Barry Lam

Lam, who founded the company Quanta Computer, currently has a net worth estimated at $3.7 billion, according to Forbes. He reportedly owns more than 2,000 works, including Chinese paintings and calligraphy. Lam reportedly shelled out about $14 million in 2010 for Zhang Daqian’s painting Achensee Lake (1968) at an auction in Beijing and is said to have been a devoted collector of his work ever since.

Leslie Sun, collector and Taipei Dangdai Advisory Group Member. Photo courtesy of Taipei Dengdai.

Leslie Sun

Collector Leslie Sun, founder of a shop and lifestyle brand, Sunset, is also a member of the Taipei Dangdai advisory board. Sun says she started buying small prints by unknown artists after college, and later, in design school, befriended plenty more whose work she also began to buy. She recently highlighted works in her collection by artists Eddie Peake, Richard Serra, Colin Roberts, and Peng Hung-Chih, and counts Taiwanese artist Wu Chi-Tsung as one of her favorites. Asked what aspects of the art world she currently finds most exciting, she says “The politics… I love the drama!” The one artist whose work she dreams of owning? Gerhard Richter.

Maggie Tsai

Tsai is CEO of the Fubon Art Foundation in Taipei, which celebrated it’s 20th anniversary in 2017. The foundation hosts lectures, exhibitions, and performances around the country aimed at making art accessible to the broader public. According to a recent Financial Times report, Tsai has ambitious plans for a new museum in the works.

Robert Tsao. Courtesy of Christie’s.

Robert Tsao

Since the 1990s, when he started collecting jade, Tsao has assembled one of the most expansive collections of art in the world, ranging from bronzes and ritual vessels, to contemporary art in various media from both the east and west.

Leo Shih, Collector and Taipei Dangdai Advisory
Group Member. Photo
Courtesy of Taipei Dangdai.

Leo Shih

Shih, an inventor based in Taichung, began acquiring art in the 1990s and was initially focused on earlier Chinese art before branching out to contemporary Asian works. “There are few collectible old Chinese paintings left; some Chinese artists actually destroyed their own work during the Cultural Revolution,” he told the FT in a recent interview. As a result, “collectors have to look elsewhere to continue their passion.” Shih’s collection includes Chinese and Taiwanese artists such as Sanyu, Lin Fengmian, Liu Haisu, Chen Cheng-Po, and Chang Shuhong, among others.

Jay Chou

Jay Chou, a Taiwanese musician, singer, actor, and director, is among the younger art collectors in Taiwan. His colorful Instagram feed includes shout-outs to Will Martyr, Ed Ruscha, and Gerhard Richter, as well as Jean-Michel Basquiat. But did he skip town too early to catch Taipei Dangdai? One of his most recent Instagram post says he “just arrived” in Florence, Italy.


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