Taiwan’s private art collectors are recognized internationally, with four of the top collectors in the world based in the country. Since the 1970s, the hardworking people of Taiwan have ventured into markets overseas, spurring a national growth in trade and export. Businesses were determined to seek opportunities outside of the island, which offered limited resources and incentives, and had developed a taste for international art appreciation. Insisting that “progressive businesses are active collectors”, these businesses began to collect art pieces and rare stones bid from auction houses and international galleries in the West. This trend paved ways for the founding of Ching Wan Society, Museum Friends Association, San San Society, the Association of Collectors in Southern Taiwan, Angels of Art, Artco Society, and other private collector organizations.
These organizations differ in scale and specialty, but all serve to invigorate Taiwan’s art market. China, on the other hand, experienced a comparatively conservative slow start in its art investment; but when it opened its art market in the year of 2000, Taiwanese collections began pouring in, prompting a trading frenzy. The opening of China’s art market contributed to the establishment of its first and second stock exchange markets, and Taiwan became China’s prominent art supplier, benefiting Chinese auction houses like China Guardian and Poly Auction.
Taiwan’s art market development is just one step behind Japan. It has matured since its beginning in the 1970s, and has cultivated a solid group of art patrons. These art enthusiasts’ collections survey art forms ranging from imperial antiquities, pioneering Taiwanese artists, Western modern paintings, to contemporary video art and 3D animation, including several prominent masterpieces.
Ching Wan, San San and Artco
Ching Wan Society is unmistakably one of the most important collector organizations in Taiwan. Founded in 1992, it is named after the anthology Ching Wan from the Jiajing era in Ming dynasty – a nod to past glory and elegance. The society has been a respected authority in the collector scene for the past twenty-six years. It primarily collects antiques and traditional Chinese paintings and calligraphy, with Western paintings joining its repertoire in recent years. Some of the most powerful figures from Taiwan’s high-profile corporations are members of this organization, sharing amongst themselves appreciation for art and culture in a low-key fashion. Ching Wan Society has never had more than 40 members at any given time. It is an influential collective, and has inspired many to follow suit.
Ching Wan Society has contributed to the births of many private art museums: Guang Ya Hsuan (founded by Barry Lin), Le Cong Tang (founded by Robert Tsao), CMC Art Museum (founded by Bob Wong), Shuang Ching Hall (founded by Steven Hong), and HCS Calligraphy Foundation (founded by Gary Ho), among others.
San San Society is another important collector organization that is active in the Taiwanese arts scene. Comprised of resourceful members with exceptional business success, the organization has an excellent reputation in its devotion to frequenting art exhibitions and collector activities nationwide.
Artco Society is chaired by Professor Ma Yi-Gong and Liu Peng, wife of Koo Foundation Sun Yat-Sen Cancer Center’s vice superintendent Chen Chi-Ming. Members of the group include: Henry Kao, president of I-Mei Foods; Chiu Jung-Nan, director of Hocheng Corporation; principle of Ming Chuan University Lee Chuan and his wife; president of A-Team Advertising Agency Michael Hsu and his wife; executive director of Wealth Group Hsieh Chin-Ho and his wife. Their passion for art is palpable, and their significance unquestionable.
Museum Friends Association
Museum Friends Association is headed by Liu Ju-Jung, wife of Color Lee, president of Lion Pencil Co., Ltd., and has been active in the art collector scene for twenty-six years. Prominent members of the association include: Silvia Peng, wife of Taishin Holdings’ president Thomas Wu; Tsai Li-Chu, wife of New Kinpo Compal Group’s president Rock Hsu; Susan Su, wife of Pacific Venture Partners’ president Paul Wang; Yang Li-Fen, vice president of Reliable Source Industrial Inc.; Dai Kuo Jen-Fen, wife of Powertec Energy Corporation’s president Dai Yi-Yi; Huang Pi-Ju, wife of My Humble House Group’s former president Thomas Tsai. Fervent supporters of the arts, these female figures are familiar faces in the world of art collection. They regularly visit domestic and international art museums, and are always present at important arts and cultural events, earning well-deserved recognition.
Friends of National Culture and Art Foundation was established by Lin Mun-Lee with the help of Lin’s many friends, including: Thomas Wu, president of Taishin Holdings; Richard Hong, president of National Electric Appliance Co., Ltd; Andrew Chew, founder of Hong-Gah Museum; Shu-Chau Wang Ho, vice president and CEO of Tung Ho Steel enterprises; Hsu Sheng-Chieh, a major shareholder of New Kinpo Compal Group; Hsu Yi-Jung, president of Reliable Source Industrial Inc.; Henry Chang, president of Rodex Fasteners Corp., along with many other important members who continue to contribute to the development of the arts in Taiwan.
In addition, Taiwan Art Gallery Association also established the “Taiwan Collector Association”, the current Director Chung Ching-Hsin as the President, Liu Ming-Hao as the vice President, the members include Wu Tzu-Hsien, get much attention in the art collection community.
Top Art Collectors in Central Taiwan
Many top Taiwanese collectors are based in central Taiwan. Leo Shih, president of ATCO International Inc., frequently hosts art gatherings, inviting art collectors to share their ideas and enthusiasm. Listed as one of the top one hundred Asian art collectors, Shih has an extensive collection of first generation Chinese painters, and is dedicated to collecting pieces by Sanyu. Paul Chang, president of P&F Brother Industrial Corporation, has been extremely active in the art collector scene, and has made the highest return on art investment in recent years. Yang Hsien-Chuan is an auction veteran in central Taiwan who bought a Sanyu piece with record-breaking 400 million NTD in 2016. Having collected art for years, the business couple Hou Ying-Ming and Yeh Yu-Hsiu founded Yu-Hsiu Museum of Art at the foothills of Jiou Jiou Peaks in Nantou. Designed by architect Liao Wei-Li and directed by Lee Chu-Hsin, the museum has become a significant platform for exhibitions and also an indicator for collectorship in central Taiwan. Asia University Museum of Art, designed by architect Tadao Ando and realized by the university founder Tsai Chang-Hai, is another example of how private collections become institutionalized.
Art Collectors in Tainan
The Association of Collectors in Southern Taiwan is founded by Chen A-Lu, director of Fine Art Center in Taiwan. Different from Ching Wan Society, which has an impressive collection of precious antiquities and traditional Chinese paintings, the association is interested in works that provide unique insight into the history of Taiwanese art.
Founded in 1995, the group is commonly known as “Tainan Clan.” Its members include: Hou Bo-Ming, president of Tainan Spinning Co., Ltd.; Lin Han-Ching, president and general manager at Zongda Construction; Lin Chin-Hua, president of Duen-Hwang Building Co., Ltd.; Wong Yi-Yung, executive director of Splendid Restaurants and A-Yong Jia Catering Service; Yang Ching-Feng, president of Tainan Enterprises Co., Ltd.; Lin Ming-Yong, head of a leading American water filter and purification system; architect Lee Ying-Hui; Cheng Wei-Long of a prominent family in Tainan and others. These members focus on collecting artworks that are crucial to the development of Taiwanese art and beyond.
In addition to the aforementioned high-profile business figures, individuals who are interested in the arts have contributed to the art market in a variety of ways, making Taiwan one of the most art-active countries in Asia. Moreover, important Taiwanese collections from earlier times are gradually reintroduced into the market and have become highly desirable items to collectors around the world. This phenomenon reflects the depth and scope of outstanding art collectorship in Taiwan.