the chinese take over

24 March 2011 § Leave a comment

A new report from http://www.artprice.com/ reports something that we all expected – but just not quite so soon: that the Chinese art market is now the world’s biggest. It actually now accounts for no less than one third of the entire world market. Any bets on how long before it reaches 50% ? Artprice CEO Thierry Ehrmann says “this unprecedented news represents a turning point in the history of the global art market: China is now the number 1 in terms of Fine art auction revenue”.

Zeng Fanzhi

A good time to invest in Chinese art? Well, perhaps, but it would require expert knowledge and nerves of steel to compete with the Chinese. Their favoured artists are also an acquired taste for western eyes and ‘buy what you love’ should always be the preferred maxim. A better strategy may be to invest in markets influenced by Chinese growth – look at the stock market for inspiration perhaps and check out other far eastern markets that may grow on the back of China. My instinct says Korea is the best bet – fairly mature but growing – but that is just a guess.

I shall quote the remainder of Artprice’s press release in full: It took just three years for China to jump from third place (previously occupied by France) in 2007 to first place in 2010, ahead of the UK and the USA, the grand masters of the market since the 1950s. To reverse the polarity of the global art market from West to East, China has done without artifices such as hypothetical figures from art galleries ( an opaque market compared to public auctions) or even that of furniture or traditional Chinese art objects (the prices of which are shooting up worldwide). Since the 1950s, the reference ranking for the art market has been that of Fine Art at Public Auctions. In 2010, China accounted for 33% of global Fine Art sales (paintings, installations, sculptures, drawings, photography, prints), versus 30% in the USA, 19 %in the UK and 5% in France *.

Zhang Daqian

 

Qi Baishi

 

Moreover, there were 4 Chinese artists in the Top-10 ranking of global artists by auction revenue for 2010 (vs. 1 in 2009), the lowest of whom generated $112 million dollars during the year. Qi Baishi was in 2nd place ahead Andy Warhol and ahead of his compatriot Zhang Daqian; Xu Beihong took  6th place with a total of $176m and Fu Baoshi was 9th. The younger generation of Chinese artists is now imposing itself even more forcefully that their older counterparts: More than half of the 2010 global Top 10 of Contemporary artists are Chinese (Zeng Fanzhi, Chen Yifei, Wang Yidong, Zhang Xiaogang, Liu Xiaodong and Liu Ye) compared with just three Americans (Basquiat, Koons, and Prince)*.

The heart of the market now beats in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai, the new driving hubs of the global art market. In 2010 Sotheby’s Hong Kong revenue amounted for 2%. At the same time, Christie’s 2010 Hong Kong total was 2,5% and China’s big 4 annual revenues were: Poly International (7,4%), China Guardian (5,32%), Beijing Council (2,07%), Hanhai Art Auction in Beijing (2,74%)*.

Not only has China’s economic strength (second global power in 2010) boosted its art market and projected its culture around the world, but China’s art sector has benefited from the support of its government and of Chinese collectors who are as patriotic as they are prompt to invest.  China has understood the Power of Art in the history of nations. In addition, the number of auction records for Chinese artworks is bound to increase as the number of Chinese billionaires rises by 20% per year through 2014 vs. 5.6% p.a. for the rest of the planet.

 * Extracts from Artprice  art market report 2010, freely downloadable starting 5th April 2011 at  https://akickupthearts.wordpress.com/wp-admin/www.artprice.com in English, French, Chinese, German, Spanish, Italian

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