Daily Archives: April 18, 2009

Chinese Art — The Scarcity And Valuation Connection

Parallel Between China’s Art Market And The Broader Economy

Zhang Dali, Forbidden City: 1998. MOMA Collection.

Zhang Dali, Forbidden City: 1998. MOMA Collection.

The New York Times published an interesting story yesterday about the connection between buyer trends and scarcity in recent art auctions. Technically, scarcity has always played a part in buyers’ habits, obviously, as dead artists usually sell for more than those with a pulse. But the reporter remarked that scarcity is being pushed along quite rapidly in some markets, more than in others. At a recent sale of antiquities, the popularity of Chinese works reflects the rising belief among many collectors that — from Shang Dynasty pottery to important historical contemporary artists from 1989-1999 — the Chinese market exhibits all of the hallmarks of a solid global art market: Scarcity (driven by increased domestic buying and slower output by living artists), outpacing inflation, and quality (established by more high profile acqusitions). So as the market for antiquities continues to roll along, the increased attention to contemporary pieces should ultimately benefit the whole Chinese art market.

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