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Contemporary art trends and news from Asia and beyond

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    Art Radar Asia News conducts original research and scans global news sources to bring you selected topical stories about the taste-changing, news-making and the up and coming in Asian contemporary art.

Posts Tagged ‘Chinese art auctions’

Outlook for Chinese art market – interview Larry Warsh – Arttactic podcast

Posted by artradar on May 26, 2009


Larry Warsh of AWAsia in New York, a private organisation which provides Chinese contemporary art sourcing and curatorial services to global institutions such as MOMA and the Getty Museum, talks about his take on the outlook for the Chinese art market on Arttactic’s newly-launched free podcast service.

Warsh’s expertise lies in Chinese painting and photography by the first generation of historically important Chinese artists who came to prominence between 1989 and 1999.

Topics discussed include:

  • the evolution of US interest in Chinese art – Americans ‘came late to the party’, Christopher Phillips’ show at ICP ‘Past Present Future’ 2004-5 was the start


  • why the Cynical Realists appealed to the West



  • recommended books about Chinese art


  • weaknesses of Chinese art scene (as yet undeveloped education, infrastructure and curatorial skills)


  • opportunities in the market – Chinese photography


The promotion of Chinese art is Warsh’s self-confessed mission so it is not surprising that the bulk of the interview claims great investment opportunities for selected Chinese artists. He suggests that scarcity of supply (he says there are only 30-40 historically important contemporary artists) and the future potential of the Chinese buyer base (favourable demographics, population size and a growing interest in contemporary art) means that prices are bound to rise.

Asked why the top auction houses seem to be featuring less Chinese art in their recent sales, Warsh explains that he sees this as evidence of the scarcity of supply of quality Chinese art rather than lack of demand.

We are not quite convinced by this argument. If supply is scarce but the demand still exists, then the pieces that have been coming to the market recently would have made heady prices but instead they have fallen along with other art categories and asset classes. In Hong Kong’s Spring sales 2009 works by Zhang Huan failed to sell at Sotheby’s and at Christe’s a Cai Guo Qiang edition ‘Kaleidoscope Time Tunnel’ and a Yue Min Jun lot were passed in.

No matter, we like controversial opinions. Arttactic promises more podcasts with ‘key’ figures so we look forward to hearing a variety of views. To listen to this one go to ArtTactic Podcasts and search for Larry Warsh May 22 2009.

Unfortunately we cannot give you a direct page link – we hope that ArtTactic will iron out this wrinkle in its promising new service.

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Posted in Auctions, Books, Chinese, Globalisation, Interviews, Market watch, Museum collectors, New York | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Domestic demand in freefall at Chinese art auctions – China Daily

Posted by artradar on November 21, 2008

No bids for many Chinese art lots

“Half and Half” from contemporary artist Wang Huaiqing. Base price, 4 million yuan ($585,700). Who will start me off?”Not a single bid was forthcoming, a scenario repeated many times at China Guardian’s Grand Fall Auction, a key event in the art world.

The global recession has clearly cooled the Chinese art market and Guardian’s fall auction, known as a barometer of domestic market sentiment, was its latest victim. It ended last Thursday with final takings of 360 million yuan ($52.78 million), only one third of the 993 million yuan ($145.6 million) from the company’s spring auction.

Contemporary art suffered the greatest plunge. Only half the lots were sold and the highest price among them was only 2.97 million yuan (for Wang Qidong’s A White Cloud), while at the spring auction it had been 57 million yuan (for Liu Xiaodong’s Hot Bed No.1).

Nor were buyers tempted by the greatly reduced prices indicated by organizers. Wang Huaiqing’s Half and Half, for example, failed to attract a bid at 4 million yuan, while at the spring auction Wang made a record 28 million yuan for the painting Homeless Furniture.

Cancellation of sales

Things are so bad that Beijing Huachen Auctions, another big group in China, canceled all its contemporary art sales at its fall auction last week. General manager Gan Xuejun called it a “cautious but necessary” measure amid the economy turmoil.

Three weeks ago, Sotheby’s fall auction in Hong Kong only proceeded with half its contemporary art lots.

The end of a four year Chinese art boom

The slump at the major auction houses seems to mark the end of a four-year boom in Chinese contemporary art, a golden age for artists like Zhang Xiaogang, Yue Minjun and Zeng Fanzhi.

Chinese art website also showed a 14 percent fall in its Chinese contemporary art index this fall, compared with the spring, while its benchmark index of 400 top Chinese artists showed a 28 percent decline for the same period.

Fine Art index founder predicts 50% fall for contemporary art

Mei Jianping, an academic who created the Fine Art index, a widely cited measure of performance in art markets, estimated contemporary art could plunge by 50 percent.

Although the whole industry is beset by pessimism, many professionals insist the end of the good times for Chinese contemporary art could be a blessing in disguise.

“Many Chinese contemporary artworks are overpriced,” says Zhang Yiwu, a professor at Peking University. “Now it is time to squeeze out the bubbles.”

Dong Mengyang, curator of the annual Art Beijing Expo, shares Zhang’s opinion: “Like shares and real estate, Chinese contemporary art has been regarded as newly profitable and most people buy them just for investment, not for art appreciation. The astounding prices of some contemporary artworks have no relation to their art value.”

He believes the global downturn and withdrawal of speculators will ease the Chinese contemporary art market into an adjustment phase that will last for at least a year.

Art critic Gao Minglu is forecasting that as much as 80 percent of contemporary artworks will eventually be eliminated and that the prices of those left standing will also fall to rational figures.

Dong agrees: “Chinese contemporary art will benefit from such a cleaning up. Buyers and collectors will resume their intense scrutiny on the artistic value of works.”

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Wang Huaiqing Half and Half


Posted in Auctions, China, Chinese, Market watch | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sotheby’s to Move Asian Art Auctions to Hong Kong from New York – Bloomberg

Posted by artradar on August 14, 2008


AUCTION MARKET WATCH Sotheby’s said it will cease holding auctions of Asian contemporary art in New York and “consolidate” them instead in Hong Kong, with biannual sales in the Asian city.

Sotheby’s said it will organize dedicated auctions of Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Southeast Asian art in April and October in Hong Kong, starting next year. Its Sept. 17 sale of such Asian works in New York will be its last in the city, said Rhonda Yung, Sotheby’s Hong Kong-based spokeswoman, in an interview. The decision doesn’t preclude sales of batches of Asian artworks at its New York, Paris and London auctions, Yung said.

The move by the U.S. auction house tracks that of London- based rival Christie’s International, which held Asia’s first major evening sale of the region’s contemporary works in Hong Kong in May. Artist Zeng Fanzhi’s painting of masked Red Guards of the Cultural Revolution era fetched a Chinese contemporary-art record of HK$75.4 million ($9.7 million) at Christie’s inaugural sale.

“It’s a shrewd decision,” said Tian Kai, a Beijing-based contemporary-art dealer. “While Europe still has the top collectors of Asian contemporary art, being in Hong Kong shows Sotheby’s commitment to a growing market.”

Tian said Christie’s has about 60 percent of the Asian contemporary-art auction market, while Sotheby’s has 40 percent. Christie’s has a “good but not insurmountable” lead over Sotheby’s in that market, Tian said.

“It has become increasingly evident that contemporary Asian works have consistently fetched the highest prices at auction in Hong Kong,” said Kevin Ching, Sotheby’s Hong Kong-based chief executive officer, in a statement.

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