Taiwanese businesses have contributed immensely to the development of art in Taiwan. Entrepreneurs not only frequent art exhibitions and performances, but also collect artworks for display in their households and offices, making Taiwan a center for art collectorship. Also, Taiwan’s building regulation requires developers to allot no less than 1 % of the total construction cost for the inclusion of artwork in any building project. It prompts corporations to incorporate different forms of art in their spaces, providing the public a taste of culture in Taiwan’s urban landscape.
Moreover, business tycoons in Taiwan usually grew up immersed in traditional culture and, through their experiences abroad, have adapted an international outlook – a duo quality conducive to connecting them with the primary and secondary art markets efficiently. They have made a fortune since the economic boom in the 1970s, and have become avid investors in art.
Financial Holdings Groups and Their Passion for Art
Taishin Financial Holdings Group’s Taishin Bank Foundation for Arts and Culture, winner of this year’s Taipei Culture Award, has held the Taishin Arts Award for over ten years in support of contemporary art. The group invited Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, the architecture firm founded by the world-renowned I. M. Pei, and Taiwan’s Haigo Shen architecture firm to co-design its headquarter on Dunhua South Road and Renai Road in Taipei City. The building responds to the imagery of water drops, book spine, and lantern, exhibiting fashionable, slick, and elegant aesthetics. Its appearance resembles an open catalogue, and its spacious interior is designated for art exhibitions, symposiums, and award ceremonies, making the business establishment a local art hub.
Located in Nangang Financial Park, CTBC Financial Holdings Group utilizes art to improve its business image. CTBC’s former president Jeffrey Koo is famous for placing the winning bid on French Impressionist Oscar-Claude Monet’s 1897 Riverbank at Argenteuil at Sotheby’s auction house in New York City. His successor later acquired Kathedrale, a piece by Andreas Gursky, the most sought-after German photographer in the art market. Italian Minimalist Lucio Fontana, famous for his iconic slashed canvases, are among the artists whose works are collected by Koo. Weighing over 400 kilograms, Icelandic-Danish artist Olafur Eliasson’s Enlightenment Sphere graces the business’s high-ceiling lobby, while sculptor Henry Spencer Moore’s bronze sculpture occupies a space outdoors. In addition, artworks by Wang Pan-Yuan, Wang Huaiqing, Yang Pei-Chen, and TeamLab make up Koo’s diverse and impressive collection.
Kenneth Lo, president of O-Bank Group and a key member of the collector organization Ching Wan Society, is also known for his remarkable art collection. Lo’s Chinese zodiac sign is a horse, so he spent a total of ten years collecting artworks related to horses, including 15 bronze sculptures by Edgar Degas. O-Bank Group now has an art museum in its first-floor lobby for exhibitions, and hosts performances in its concert hall. The group also initiated the open call Go To Taiwan, encouraging the development of the visual arts in Taiwan.
Rudy Ma, founder of Yuanta Financial Holdings Group, and his son Victor Ma are the most prominent father-and-son duo in Ching Wan Society. They collect exquisite ceramics from the Sung, Yuan, and Ming dynasties, as well as artworks by late modernist painters such as Lin Fengmian, Xu Beihong, Wu Zuo Ren, Zao Wou-Ki, Wu Guanzhong, Sanyu, and Yun Gee. The Ma’s have kept a low profile in the art collector scene, but are influential in their taste and resources. The Yuanta Group headquarter has the aura of a museum, housing a range of public artworks and private collections. Managed by the same group, World Trade Center Club has a first-floor lobby featuring one of Su Xiaobai’s monumental pieces, and a VIP room on the top floor displaying some of the best works by Lin Fengmian, Zao Wou-Ki, and Wu Zuo Ren.
Fubon Financial Holdings Group has been collecting art with the goal of establishing an art museum. Its acquisitions range from antiques to late modernist, modernist, and contemporary pieces. The Group’s president Richard M. Tsai is a member of Ching Wan Society, and his wife Maggie Weng, along with Irene Chen, wife of Taiwan Mobile’s Chairman Daniel Tsai, are formidable buyers in auctions. Weng has famously acquired Yun Gee’s painting Wheels: Industrial New York (1932) and other pieces from the same series, as well as signature works by Sanyu and Zao Wou-Ki. Fubon Financial Holdings Group is a fierce supporter of contemporary art, sponsoring and organizing the much-anticipated annual VeryFunPark exhibition and Fubon Art Forum, helping to enrich Taipei’s cultural landscape.
Technology Industry and Art
President Barry Lin of Quanta Computer Inc. is adamant about creating a unique corporate image with art. The late Qin Xiaoyi, former director of the National Palace Museum, once dedicated a calligraphic prose to Lin –”To expand one’s mind with learning/ To teach the restraints of propriety/ A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – a clear indication of Lin’s significance in the world of art collectorship.
Aurora Museum’s collection is the pride and joy of Aurora Group’s president Chen Yung-Tai. Housed in Andou Tadao’s design, the artworks bridge the past and the present, forming an elegant harmony.
Pierre Chen, president of Yageo Corporation, is often on the list of the world’s top ten art collectors. He adorns his office with masterpieces, incorporating art into everyday life. Chen’s private residences in Taipei, Hong Kong, and Tokyo’s Imperial Palace district are homes to works by Francis Bacon, Henry Moore, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Willem de Kooning, Anselm Kiefer, Cy Twombly, David Hockney, Jeff Koons, and Gerhard Richter, among others – a truly magnificent selection.
Art, Corporate Image, and Lifestyle
Humble House Group’s hotels – Le Méridien, Humble House, and Sheraton Grand Taipei Hotel – greet their guests with sculptures, paintings, and videos. Their exceptional taste in art awes visitors from all walks of life.
Le Méridien and Humble House display artworks from both the East and the West across generations by artists such as Lin Fengmian, Wu Guanzhong, Yuan Jai, Xue Song, Liu Ye, Hao Liang, Yang Yongliang, Charwei Tsai, Kohei Nawa, Tracey Emin, Paul Cocksedge, and Paola Pivi.
“A Better Tomorrow” is JUT Land Development Group’s motto. It is realized through the company’s dedication to arts and culture. Residents of Taipei are not unfamiliar with Julian Opie’s LED piece Walking in Taipei at the intersection of Civic Boulevard and Jianguo South Road, or Marco Casagrande’s six-meter installation The Great Assistant, built with African merbau wood, natural stones, stainless steel, and bronze. In addition, the company has collected Time – Blossoming Flowers, dedicated to Taiwan by TeamLabs, as well as Oyler Wu Collaborative’s Crystal Cloud. The company’s vice president Aaron Lee is interested in not simply purchasing art, but also participating in the formulation of ideas for art. JUT has always been a quality construction company in Taiwan, and its conviction to connect art with everyday life is widely accredited. Residents in their building projects are privileged to appreciate art in their own homes, which have provided spaces and resources for artistic practices.
Taiwanese businesses have persevered in the face of financial hardship and remained humble. The ideal of “progressive businesses as active collectors” has now become reality. With the support from businesses and corporations, we are able to enjoy a spectrum of art forms in our daily lives and take pride in our collective cultural achievements.