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Top 200 Collectors

Black-and-white portrait of a young Asian woman

Yan Du

London

Inheritance; Entrepreneur

Contemporary art; Modern art; Postwar art

Overview

As a child growing up in China, Yan Du studied traditional Chinese painting. Art, she has said, has always been a part of her life, but it wasn’t until she moved to London as a college student that she decided to live among it. More than a decade later, the art patron and collector, now living full-time in London, has amassed a collection of some 300 works.

Following the birth of her daughter, Yan redoubled her commitment to buying the work of female artists, leading to the acquisitions of pieces by the likes of Eva Hesse, Yayoi Kusama, Georgia O’Keeffe, Lee Krasner, and Louise Bourgeois, a particular favorite of hers.

More recently, she has began focusing on not just supporting the work of contemporary Asian artists but also cultivating an understanding of Asian art outside China. In 2019, she founded the nonprofit Asymmetry Art Foundation, which is dedicated to nurturing curatorial practice and disseminating knowledge about Chinese and Sinophone contemporary art through academic scholarships and curatorial placements. Asymmetry has partnered with a number of British organizations, including Chisenhale Gallery, Delfina Foundation,  Whitechapel Gallery and Goldsmiths, University of London. In 2022, the organization launched a research program focused on Chinese contemporary art with the Courtauld Institute of Art in London.

Also in 2022, Yan opened a permanent home for Asymmetry HQ London, which had been operating in the capital since 2020 without a brick-and-mortar space. The new East London space includes a library, individual work spaces for curators, and shared dining and reception area that will host Asymmetry’s events and public programming.

“I have a strong sense of social responsibility for the art world and society in general that my role as a patron and philanthropist allows me to fulfill,” Yan told Artnet News in 2021. “However, creating opportunities for the continuous promotion of knowledge is an ongoing endeavor.”

Meanwhile, she is committed to her growing her collection. Recent acquisitions include an Eva Hesse sculpture, a kinetic sculpture by the artist-duo Sun Yuan and Peng Yu that feature at the Venice Biennale in 2019, and a sculptural installation by artist Sydney Shen. Titled Thirst is the Mother of Corvid Ingenuity (2020), the work combines a black patent leather high-heeled boot atop three white buckets with stones engraved with names of rocks on Mars that are strewn about near the shoe.

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