Category Archives: auction

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ChinaLuxCultureBiz is now Jing Daily! Be sure and check us out at our new location.

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Jing Daily compiles the best in Chinese luxury, culture, business, arts, and investment news from around the world

NEW YORK – November 5, 2009 – Jing Daily, the source for the most important and timely news about the business of luxury and culture in China, today announced the launch of its new website (http://www.jingdaily.com). With insight and commentary gathered from the Chinese- and English-language blogosphere and top news sources around the world, Jing Daily offers up-to-date information about crucial developments and current trends in China’s luxury, business, arts, and cultural markets.

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Artprice: Zeng Fanzhi Is China’s New “#1 Artist”

Auction Sales From July 1, 2008 To June 30, 2009 Send Zeng To The Top Of The List, As Chinese Artists Make Up 16 Of The Top 50 In The World

Zeng Fanzhi is one of China's most interesting and top-grossing contemporary artists of the last 30 years

Zeng Fanzhi is one of the most interesting and top-grossing contemporary Chinese artists of the last 30 years

Artxun (Chinese) reports this week that Zeng Fanzhi — one of China’s top contemporary artists — has gained the title of “Number One” Chinese artist in terms of auction prices over the last year, leapfrogging longtime title-holder Zhang Xiaogang. While some of this may be down to the slower pace with which Zhang is producing new works, Zeng’s growing popularity within China and, ostensibly, among New Chinese Collectors, could have something to do with it. Zeng, who sprang to prominence in the 1990s mostly through his “Mask” series but has since begun experimenting with more abstract pieces, recently sold 5 of 6 pieces up for grabs at Sotheby’s autumn auction of contemporary Asian art in Hong Kong well above high estimates, indicating that his popularity among the primarily Mainland Chinese bidders remains strong.

The Artxun piece, rather than focusing only on Zeng’s auction prices, does an excellent job of looking into the artist himself and some of the personal projects he has undertaken, including the “Zeng Fanzhi Art Scholarship,” which awarded 10,000 yuan to a disabled university applicant in July of this year. From the article (translation by CLCB staff):

Compared to last year’s [Artprice] list, Chinese artists comprised 16 of the top 50 artists in the world, down from 18 the year before. Among Chinese artists, Zeng Fanzhi was the highest selling, surpassing Zhang Xiaogang by 1,010,000 yuan, becoming China’s most “expensive” artist of 2009. Zhang Xiaogang slipped from the top five this year down to #7. Chinese artists who made the top 50 list last year, namely Yin Chaoyang, Liu Wei, Fan Dehai, and Guo Hai weren’t strong enough to make the list this year, although Yan Peiming is expected to enter the top 50. Another interesting thing to look at is Chengdu’s growing power — aside from Zhang Xiaogang, Chengdu-based contemporary artist Zhou Chunya was ranked 17th in the world and #11 in China in 2008, and in 2009 rose 3 places in the world ranking to #14 while rising 6 places in China to #5 there. Another Chengdu artist, Luo Zhongli, ranked #38.

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New Exhibitions In China Present Country’s Top Contemporary Artists To A Domestic Audience

Interest Of New Collectors, Government Support Growing As More Museums Mount Large-Scale Exhibitions Of Work By Top Artists

Wang Guangyi's work seems to be (finally) accepted and promoted by the Chinese government's cultural elites

Wang Guangyi's work seems to be (finally) accepted and promoted by the Chinese government's cultural elites

 Recently, we translated a speech presented at the first-ever conference of Chinese collectors of contemporary Chinese art delivered in Beijing by influential art critic Li Xianting. In this speech, Li called on Chinese collectors to get busy buying, preserving and presenting top-quality works of contemporary Chinese art in order to ensure younger generations in the country will be able to view and understand their artistic heritage. Li called art collecting “a form of cultural creation,” the responsibility for which lies in the hands of the country’s new generation of art collectors. From Li’s speech:

We can’t expect the government to establish, from top to bottom, an art museum system in such a short amount of time, not least because the construction of the “hardware” is so difficult, but what’s harder is [assembling] the artwork itself, because up until now the collection in the government’s museum of contemporary art has been really poor, and not only because in the past three decades the important works of Chinese contemporary art have flowed overseas. Can the government spend the money to collect contemporary art? Aside from lack of funds, the hardest thing is that within a considerable amount of time, could the government possibly recognize the value of a contemporary art value system? 

Whether by coincidence or by design, a news item in China’s Global Times today announced a spate of high-profile museum exhibitions of two of China’s top contemporary artists, Zhang Xiaogang and Wang Guangyi. Although as recently as last month Li Xianting decried the Chinese government’s slow movement on arts education and investment in cultural capital, these two exhibitions seem to indicate that development is beginning in earnest. From the article:

While the recent inclusion of a selection of contemporary Chinese artworks in exhibitions held at state-run museums across the country has been considered by many as a sign that Chinese contemporary art has been officially embraced by the government, others in the art world are calling for more to be done to recognize the genre.

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WSJ: Only China Can Save Luxury Sales

Spending On Everything From Luxury Cars To Private Jets Shows Ultrarich Chinese Are Unleashing Their Inner Conspicuous Consumer

The exclusive club of "ultra-rich" in China are splurging amid the ongoing global economic doldrums

The exclusive club of "ultra-rich" in China are splurging amid the ongoing global economic doldrums

An interesting blog post today at the Wall Street Journal, where Robert Frank points out that the global economic downturn has turned a new spotlight onto a once-unlikely savior — the Chinese [ultrarich] consumer. While this group is exclusive to say the least, particularly in terms of the miniscule percentage of the Chinese population that can live up to this title, the staggering dropoff of the once mighty American, Japanese and even Russian luxury showoff has pushed the Chinese super-spender into the leading role.

Though Frank’s potential nicknames for this ultrarich group of big spenders — “Deng Xiaoblings,” for one — are a humorous take on the subject, the repercussions of an Eastward shift of conspicuous consumption and luxury shopping sprees could mean a great deal for established western luxury brands. Just as the increased buying power — and desire for diversification — seen among Chinese buyers of everything from gold to real estate to luxury cars to Chinese antiquities and contemporary arts has affected those markets and caused everyone from Bugatti to Sotheby’s to focus far more strongly on the China market than ever before, this China-bound luxury shift could very well change the nature and corporate strategies of the global luxury industry.

From the WSJ:

Purveyors of posh have a new mandate: Go East!

An updated forecast from Bain & Co. out this morning shows a stronger-than-expected rise in luxury sales for Asia–especially China. It said it expects luxury-goods sales in mainland China to jump 12% this year.

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Chinese Art Critic Li Xianting: Collecting Chinese Contemporary Art Is A Kind Of “Cultural Creation”

“Godfather Of Chinese Contemporary Art” Advocates Collections Develop To Ensure Art Can Be Seen In China

"The Godfather of Chinese contemporary art," Li Xianting (Photo: ArtZine China)

"The Godfather of Chinese contemporary art," Li Xianting (Photo: ArtZine China)

At recent events like the Global Collecting Forum and the Songzhuang Art Festival’s Conference of Collectors of Chinese Contemporary Art, a major topic of discussion among Chinese scholars and art critics has been the need for Chinese collectors of contemporary art (and Chinese museums and galleries) to acquire more top-quality pieces while educating the public on the history, subject matter, figures and current state of Chinese contemporary art.

At the Songzhuang Festival, Chinese art critic Li Xianting — who has been called the “Godfather of Chinese Contemporary Art” — gave a speech in which he said collecting Chinese contemporary art is a form of “cultural creation” which requires the urgent attention of Chinese collectors. Since the breakout of Chinese contemporary art in the late 1970s and its development over the years, the majority of major works of art have been acquired by Western collectors, and although that is changing gradually as Chinese buyers amass their own collections, Li still sees disequilibrium in the global marketplace. By building collections of Chinese contemporary art now, and continuing to patronize Chinese artists in the same way the Medici family did in Renaissance-era Italy, Li feels that Chinese art can reach the Chinese people themselves by building a new form of aesthetic education while stemming the flow of artwork out of the country.

Artxun (Chinese) posted the entirety of Li’s speech today. Translation of excerpts by ChinaLuxCultureBiz team:

Collection is a kind of cultural creation, and in collecting contemporary art one must face value standards, but value standards in a progressing era are of a very uncertain ideological form, and collectors — through their behavior — have to confirm whether they’re actually qualified to become the builders of value standards in the era in which we live. Every major collector who made an important contribution to art history, such as the Renaissance-era Medici family or the Guggenheims, Ludwig II…the famous American and Italian Guggenheim museums, and Germany’s Ludwig Museum — named after these collectors — because of these people and places collecting artwork, some of these works of art have become critical elements of art history.

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Global Collecting Forum Held In Beijing

Forum Provides Opportunity For Western, Chinese Collectors, Curators And Artists Come Together To Discuss Future Of Art Collecting In China

Western and Chinese experts discussed a wide range of important issues in art collecting at the Global Collecting Forum in Beijing (Photo: CRI)

Western and Chinese experts discussed a wide range of important issues in art collecting at the Global Collecting Forum in Beijing (Photo: CRI)

Although the last few years have seen the rapid rise of the New Chinese Collector of contemporary Chinese art, the relatively late arrival of Chinese collectors means that the vast majority of major works of contemporary Chinese art remain in the collections of Western art collectors (such as the former Swiss diplomat-turned-prolific collector Uli Sigg, who owns around 2,000 pieces) or Western art museums and galleries. Although buying trends are changing, as more Chinese collectors and curators start to bolster their collections and diversify the artwork they acquire, one of the unique challenges that art lovers in China must face is the dearth of contemporary Chinese artwork available for view in their local museums and galleries.

With these issues — the underdevelopment of Chinese art museums and the growing interest in private art collection in China — in mind, this weekend the Global Collecting Forum was held at Beijing’s Reignwood Theater. The forum brought together a number of prominent Western and Chinese art collectors, museum curators, gallery owners and artists, whose work was shown at an exhibition which included pieces by prominent Chinese artists like Cai Guoqiang, Xu Bing, Liu Xiaodong and Wang Guangyi. According to Cultural China:

[Chinese writer-filmmaker Sun Shuyun], who was a guest at last year’s ISD forum, has met some of the world’s best-known art collectors and museum directors there. But she was somehow left with the impression that many of these “leaders of art collecting actually knew very little about Chinese art.”

The situation is expected to improve as this year’s forum brings over 30 leading art experts from Europe, the United States and Russia to meet with their Asian counterparts in the Chinese capital. Those set to show up include Baroness Kennedy QC, a trustee of the British Museum; Alexandra Monroe, senior curator at the Guggenheim Museum; and Derek Gillman, director of the US-based Barnes Foundation, a top collector of Post-Impressionist paintings.

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Chinese Buying Drives Sotheby’s Hong Kong Sale To $170 Million

Bidders From Mainland China Dominate As Expectations Are Surpassed In Landmark Autumn Auction

Chinese contemporary artist Liu Ye's "Portrait of L" sold in Hong Kong for $209,000 over its high estimate

Chinese contemporary artist Liu Ye's "Portrait of L" sold in Hong Kong for $209,000 over its high estimate

Over the last week, we’ve followed the Sotheby’s autumn auction in Hong Kong, which included sales of everything from fine wine to antiquities to contemporary Chinese and Asian art, noting that sales were well above estimates and sell-through rates were promising. Today, in a wrap-up of the sales, Le-Min Lim of Bloomberg illustrates how this series of auctions, led by Chinese rather than American buyers, represents a major shift in auction buying trends:

The total beat both the presale estimate of HK$950 million and last year’s auction, which raised HK$1.1 billion ($141.7 million at that time), half its forecast, three weeks after Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s September 2008 failure.

“The bidding was intense,” auctioneer Henry Howard-Sneyd said in an interview after the auction. The mood in the saleroom was “electric” when Emperor Qianlong’s throne came on the block yesterday, he said: “This shows when the right item comes along, the money is there — especially from China.”

Chinese collectors have come out in force over the last year, recognizing quality lots and quickly developing a sophisticated eye for collection-worthy wines and paintings. In terms of antiquities, an area in which Chinese collectors have more experience, however, they seemingly can’t be beat:

The strength of Chinese bidding at the antiques sale defies a decade-old trend of Western dominance at the priciest end of the market. As recently as June, Sotheby’s rival, Christie’s International, said Americans were its top clients in this category, followed by the Chinese and Hong Kongers. Of the 2,400 lots offered this week, 88 percent found buyers.

The Chinese also bought the priciest wines and oil paintings by masters and contemporary art. Over the weekend, a Chinese buyer paid a record $94,000 for a 6-liter bottle of Chateau Petrus 1982; another spent HK$7.3 million for a 1984 oil-and-color on paper by Li Keran at the auction of classical Chinese paintings; while a third spent HK$36.5 million on a mid- 1950s oil-on-board painting, “Lotus et Poissons Rouges” (“Lotus and Red Fish”) by deceased Chinese master Sanyu.

While this article claims contemporary art underperformed, I think the sell-through at the contemporary Asian art auction speaks for itself. If lumping together all of the pieces at the contemporary auction — which included Chinese, Japanese and Korean artists in one large sale — I would say the final tally is brought down significantly by the Japanese and Korean artists, who sell, on the whole, for significantly less than quality Chinese contemporary artists.

In terms of the Chinese artists up for grabs in the contemporary sale, selling rates were excellent, with 5 of the 6 Zeng Fanzhi paintings up for auction going for well above than their high estimates, Yue Minjun’s “Hats Series – Two Lovers” selling for $372,000 over its high estimate, and works by top Chinese artists like Liu Ye, Wang Guangyi, and Huang Yongping destroying pre-sale estimates.

Ferrari Collaborates With Chinese Artist Lu Hao On Exclusive “Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano China”

Paint Work Takes Inspiration From Song Dynasty Porcelain

Lu Hao's one-off Ferrari incorporates many Chinese elements, from the jade start button to the cracked porcelain paint scheme

Lu Hao's one-off Ferrari incorporates many Chinese elements, from the jade start button to the cracked porcelain paint scheme

To build greater brand equity and strike a chord in the Chinese market, many companies have been known to create limited-edition “China only” versions of their products inspired by Chinese culture or history. Today, Ferrari announced its collaboration with the Chinese contemporary artist Lu Hao — “well known for his models of Beijing, his playfulness with architecture and geographical images in rapidly evolving modern China” (ArtZine) —  on a one-of-a-kind China edition of the 599 GTB Fiorano (the regular model will be limited to a run of about 12 in China). The one-off edition by Lu will be auctioned off at a charity function in Beijing later this month.

Lu’s Ferrari features a unique trompe-l’œil paint job incorporating the faint green hue and distinctive cracked pattern of Ge Kiln porcelain from China’s Song Dynasty (AD 960-1279), but some of the most fascinating elements of the “China” edition are in the car’s interior. From Auto Express:

The China edition of Ferrari's 599 GTB Fiorano features ancient Chinese accents

The China edition of Ferrari's 599 GTB Fiorano features ancient Chinese accents

The ignition button is carved from jade and insribed with the ancient Xiao Zhuan symbols for ‘engine start’, while other novel additions include a rev-counter marked with Chinese characters, a matching luggage set embroided with the route of the silk road – traditionally the most important trade routes in China – and an engraved plaque unique to each car.

Interview With Chinese Contemporary Artist Zhang Xiaogang: Recording the “Relics of Life”

Excerpts Of Chinese Art Blog Artron’s Interview With Zhang Xiaogang Shed Light On His New Exhibition, “The Records”

Zhang Xiaogang feels the art environment in Beijing is worlds away from that of New York

Zhang Xiaogang feels the art environment in Beijing is worlds away from that of New York

We recently profiled Chinese contemporary artist Zhang Xiaogang’s new exhibition in Beijing, which breaks dramatically from his earlier work by incorporating sculpture and mixed media pieces. Last week, China-based art site Artron (Ya Chang Art Network) sat down with Zhang to discuss the new direction his art is taking, and the ways that the rapidly-shifting Chinese culture affects his creative process as well as his views of the American and Chinese art worlds. 

Ya Chang Art Network: What’s the basic idea behind this new exhibition? 

Zhang Xiaogang: Actually, the idea is basically to “revise” a continuing exhibition. But this idea is one that I’ve paid pretty close attention to for several years, like I have with topics related to “memory.” The people’s lives are changing quickly, so now we’re facing our memory and our memory loss, which all results in a number of psychological reactions associated with these and other matters. So it seems that by creating pieces concerned with memory — since our lives are changing so fast, resulting in a constant loss of our memory and nostalgia, which begins at a very young age — it all comes back to how I was always concerned with the idea of memory, an idea that has concerned me even more in recent years. 

In the past a series regarding “memory and starting to remember,” then a series about “inside and outside”, later became “amendment” in my new works — the new works are a deeper continuation of the old works. I hope to continue this theme, to a relatively deep degree, to see if there are any other possibilities. This is the basic idea [of this exhibition].

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“The Chinese Are Out In Force” At Sotheby’s Hong Kong Auctions

Mainland New Collectors Pushing Contemporary Chinese Art Nearly Back To 2007 Levels As Classic Chinese Photography Sells Out

Sold in Hong Kong for $1.1 million USD, $372,000 over high estimate: Zhang Xiaogang's "Comrade (Diptych)" Image: Sotheby's

Sold in Hong Kong for $1.1 million USD, $372,000 over high estimate: Zhang Xiaogang's "Comrade (Diptych)" Image: Sotheby's

There’s been no shortage of jaw-dropping figures coming out of Sotheby’s Hong Kong autumn auction, as this weekend’s fine wine auctions brought in nearly US$8 million, Fine Chinese paintings took in US$23.5 million, 20th century Chinese art made US$14 million and today’s contemporary Chinese and other Asian art pulled in almost US$15 million — mainly on the strength of contemporary Chinese artists like Zhang Xiaogang, Zeng Fanzhi and Yue Minjun. Among the countries represented in the Asian contemporary art sale — China, Japan and South Korea — sales of Chinese art were the most consistent and showed the highest sell-through.

With spirited bidding by mainland Chinese collectors, and important milestones like 100% of the classic Chinese photography selling out, it looks like the contemporary Chinese art market is back in business in a very significant way, driven more by domestic rather than foreign demand as its performance parallels the Chinese economy. The prevalence of mainland collectors in all of this week’s auctions could really indicate that these autumn auctions are a major turning point in contemporary Chinese art as the point at which the Chinese collector really came into his own.

Although news reports are still forthcoming about the buyer breakdown, based on the turnout these last few days it seems as if Golden Week has indeed attracted many mainland Chinese collectors to depart with their gold in Hong Kong. From Bloomberg yesterday, regarding Chinese buyers at yesterday’s auction of Fine Chinese paintings:

The Chinese are out in force,” said Jerome Chen, 60, a Hong Kong-based collector…“It’s hard to outbid them.”

Low-key and unassuming, the Chinese buyers at yesterday’s auction sat mostly clustered in the back rows, watching their rivals and whispering into mobile phones between bids. China’s accelerating growth and a 50 percent gain in the benchmark Shanghai stock index from the same time last year have generated wealth and stirred buyer confidence.

The fresh figures coming out of Hong Kong this morning indicate that these “low-key” Chinese bidders were not only present, they dominated at the contemporary Asian art auction, pushing contemporary Chinese art prices to some of the highest levels seen in the last couple of years. One of China’s premier contemporary artists, Zhang Xiaogang, attracted the highest bid with his “Comrade (Diptych)” going for US$1.1 million  (US$405,000 over high estimate), and top artists like Yue Minjun (whose “Hats Series – The Lovers” sold for US$823,000, US$372,000 over high estimate), Liu Ye (whose “Portrait of L” went for US$467,000, or $209,000 over high estimate), Huang Yongping, Zeng Fanzhi (who sold 5 out of 6 paintings, all above high estimates), Wang Guangyi, Xiang Jing and others all surpassed estimates and found new homes — presumably back in the country of their origin.

In October, Sotheby's will put on a large-scale sale of Asian art in Hong Kong. Will The New Chinese Collector continue to flex his (or her) muscles at that sale?

Yue Minjun had an exceptional showing, taking in $823,000 for "Hats Series - The Lovers"

Following the reputation we’ve seen developing over the last several months, Chinese collectors are fast becoming notorious in the auction world as sophisticated and determined buyers. As the Bloomberg article about yesterday’s auction notes, either you love [selling to] them or you hate [competing with] them:

It’s very clear the Chinese are holding up Asia’s art market,” said Eddie Leung, 51, an art collector and managing director of Paper Communication Exhibition Services, in an interview at the venue. “It’s great if you’re a seller, but awful if you’re bidding against them.”

Though James Pomfret, writing for Reuters today, says the contemporary auction had “mixed results,” it seems to us that the Chinese works stole the show. Although some Japanese and Korean pieces did well, they by and large reduced the overall sale figures. Looking only at the Chinese pieces sold, it would seem that this sale was a major success overall:

In the Asian contemporary sale, Chinese artists once again dominated. While there were few blockbuster prices testing the $1 million mark except Zhang Xiaogang’s “Comrade,” solid results were seen for the works of Liu Ye, Li Songsong and Fang Lijun, with most top lots bought by mainland Chinese collectors.