Monthly Archives: April 2009

Western Art Goes To Beijing As More Chinese Art Goes West

“Art Relations” Between The Two Countries Increase, With Contemporary Chinese Art And Modern British Art Exchanges

ArtInfo posts today on efforts by the UK and Chinese governments to increase their artistic exchanges in coming years, as part of broader efforts to take a “wider approach to building understanding between the two countries.” While we have seen particular interest in the UK and other western countries in Chinese contemporary art in the last 30 years, and in Chinese antiquities and traditional arts for several hundred years, large-scale exhibitions of western masters are still relatively scarce in China. The exhibition of a number of works by J.M.W. Turner, which opened earlier this month in Beijing, is essentially an experiment by the British government on whether there is a sizeable audience for British art in China, whether funding can be gathered, and whether China and the UK can cooperatively build a cultural bridge that will increase exchanges of all kinds between the two in coming years.

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Will Chinese Consumers Rescue The World Economy?

Multinationals Hope Domestic Consumption, Inland Movement Will Counterbalance Drop In Exports

The world's target market

The world's target market

CNN reports today on the hopes of many western investors and CEOs for the rise of the Chinese consumer to help lift up the sluggish global economy. With slowly-increasing consumption rates in a country still highly populated by savers rather than spenders, redoubled efforts by western and Japanese companies to retain and expand their customer base shows that they understand that the Chinese market — with its vast potential but cut-throat competition — is critical for their global strategy.

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Emerging Economies Still “Bitten By the Luxe Bug”: Financial Express

Asia Accounts For Largest Share Of World’s Luxury Market, Even As Global Financial Conditions Remain Grim

The Financial Express writes on the $80 billion global luxury market, which has fallen on hard times in the last year in most markets, yet continues to perform admirably in emerging economies and in East Asia. As the financial crisis wears on, and target markets in developed countries hold back, luxury brands have adapted quickly. Rather than courting reluctant customers, luxury brands have refocused their attention more to the world’s most populous nations, China and India, as consumers with the means to purchase luxury products in these countries continue to do so even as the rest of the world hunkers down for what could be a protracted recession.

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Two Corners of the Globe, Two Chinese Art Exhibitions

Boston’s “Mahjong” Exhibition and Brisbane’s “China Project” Showcase Chinese Contemporary Art

Included in the Mahjong exhibition: Liu Xiaodong, "Eating", 2000

Included in the Mahjong exhibition: Liu Xiaodong, "Eating", 2000

Two simultaneous exhibitions of Chinese Contemporary Art are bringing artwork from dozens of top Chinese artists to crowds in Boston and Brisbane, showing off the respectable collections of Uli Sigg (Boston show) and Nicholas Jose and Claire Roberts (Brisbane). The Boston Globe writes that the important works from Sigg’s extensive and exhaustive collection have provided guests with a great introduction to China’s thriving art world:

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The Ongoing Saga of the Summer Palace Bronze Heads

Rumors Abound That French Super-Retailer Carrefour May Be In Bidding

Will the Rabbit and the Rat finally return to Beijing? Image © Artworld Salon

Will the Rabbit and the Rat finally return to Beijing? Image © Artworld Salon

The Financial Times reports that the recent controversy about the sale of two bronze zodiac heads looted from Beijing’s Old Summer Palace by Anglo-French troops in the 19th century and put on the auction block by the estate of Yves St. Laurent may be close to an end. As you may remember, the auction, held in Feburary, were sold for £14m each, but the anonymous buyer soon revealed his true identityas the New York Review of Books writes,

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International Auction Houses Bullish On China Market

Bonhams CEO Singles Out China Among The Brightest Prospects For Future Auctions

A new interview with Malcolm Barber, CEO and group managing director of international auction house Bonhams, just caught my eye. Barber discusses his experience at the auction house over the years, noting trends and unique examples of the unpredictable auction market, and points out his predictions for his auction house’s long-term international prospects. Barber is optimistic that emerging auction markets like Dubai and China will continue to drive growth and demand, both in traditional luxury goods and more dynamic fields, such as contemporary art. Barber discusses the current state of auctions, and the exceptional growth his auction house has seen in China in recent years and expects to continue to see:

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The Power Of Jewelry In The Chinese Market

Buying Trends Indicate Wealthy Chinese Looking For Long-Term Value, Asset Classes That Outpace Inflation

China is a huge and growing market for Sotheby's and other auction houses

China is a huge and growing market for Sotheby's and other auction houses

JCK looks back at the recent Sotheby’s jewelry auction that took place in Hong Kong, reflecting that the runaway success of luxury goods classes like jewelry/diamonds at that auction shows that Chinese buyers — who were the overwhelming majority in this instance — are continuing to invest in assets that will hold sustainable value. Seeing how these same buyers were more interested in diamonds than Chinese jadeite — which does not have as sophisticated resale markets — it seems pretty obvious that wealthy Mainland Chinese are supplanting the historical role of Hong Kong Chinese as mass buyers of luxury asset classes. This carries over in all classes, recently, from fine wines and watches to automobiles and contemporary Chinese artwork.

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China Outpaces France, Targets New York For Top Art Auction Sales

London Takes #1 Spot As China Rapidly Approaches Second Place

Gang Zhao, There is an America, 2007

Gang Zhao, There is an America, 2007

Artinfo points out today that New York has lost its top spot in art auction sales to London. With the pain of the financial crisis biting wallets and disappointing November sales, New York has seen its traditional lead on London dissipate in 2008. Some may not be surprised by this, given London’s advantage of hosting Damien Hirst’s one-man auction, but what is more of a surprise is China overtaking France for the third-place spot. With auctions in China continuing to do well even during the financial crisis, New York and London are firmly within the China auction market’s sights.

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Geely, Great Wall, Chery Show China’s Domestic Luxury Auto Market Shifting Into Gear

New Luxury Models From Geely, Great Wall Target Evolving Market, Seeking Market Share From Foreign Brands

The Geely GE: Will Geely's Foray Into The Luxury Market Pay Off? © Geely

The Geely GE: Could Geely's first foray into the luxury market pay off? © Geely

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At the Shanghai Auto Show, foreign car executives have been discussing the prospects for their brands in the mainland China market as domestic carmakers begin to move beyond their traditional low price-point and into more high-end, luxury segments.

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Will Investors Reevaluate Art Investment Funds? And Will Fund Managers Include A Global Mix Of Art?

Investment Funds Looking To Buy Artwork, Gains In Industry Expected As Investor Confidence Increases

Wang Jin, Knocking at the door, 1995 © Wang Jin

Wang Jin, Knocking at the door, 1995 © Wang Jin

It has not been a very good year or so for assets in general, as everyone knows. Reflecting the new hesitance to put money towards the great-risk-but-great-rewards-maybe investments of the world like real estate, investment funds are getting creative. Some funds are going against the grain, putting money toward assets that are not expected to bring quick, huge returns yet are expected to appreciate over time and — perhaps most importantly — outpace inflation. Since massive global spending on stimulus packages and the like are expected to bring at least SOME measure of inflation into the picture, investors are looking at assets that will keep their money in check, and allow it to grow at a sustainable pace.

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