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“Experience China In Israel” Event Opens In Tel Aviv

Event Follows Other Recent Cultural Events And Partnerships In Germany And Belgium, And Upcoming Events In The United States

01617988Following China’s National Day celebrations earlier this month, a wave of cultural events have taken place — or are slated to take place — around the world. From China’s position as guest of honor at the Frankfurt Book Fair to the many included works of Chinese contemporary art at the Europalia-China art festival in Brussels (co-curated by premier Chinese artist Ai Weiwei), the last few weeks have given Western audiences a good opportunity to get up close and personal with several aspects of contemporary Chinese artistic culture.

This week, Chinese culture heads to the Middle East, where the “Experience China in Israel” cultural exchange event kicked off this weekend at the Tel Aviv Opera House. The event will feature performances, film screenings and photo exhibitions, and follows similar “Experience” events held in the past in Russia, South Korea, Germany and the U.S. From Xinhua:

The event, jointly held by the State Council Information Office of China and Israeli Foreign Ministry, is dedicated to the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China and the 17th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Composed of a series of activities including performances, photo exhibitions, a film week and a symposium on China, Israel and the world economy, the event, which began earlier this week and will conclude at the end of this month, is expected to allow the Israelis to see Chinese culture and China’s development and achievements over the past 60 years and promote Sino-Israeli friendship.

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Chinese Auction Buyers Find “Treasures For The Taking”

High Proportion Of New Chinese Collectors Boosting Sales As Economic Mood Remains Relatively Tepid In More Mature Markets

Up for auction in Hong Kong on October 6: Ai Weiwei's “A Gift from Beijing (set of three works)”

Up for auction in Hong Kong on October 6: Ai Weiwei's “A Gift from Beijing (set of three works)”

Next week, Sotheby’s will hold one of the most anticipated auctions of the season, its autumn auction of contemporary Chinese and other Asian art, in Hong Kong. For this closely-watched sale, the location is no coincidence. According to recent stories in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, The Economist and dozens of art blogs, mainland Chinese buyers have rapidly become one of the fastest-growing buyer and collector groups in the world. Considering art collection was virtually nonexistent for much of the last 60 years in China (and probably significantly longer than that), many newly wealthy Chinese are taking advantage of the readjustment in prices of pretty much anything up for grabs at auction to bring home everything from Chinese antiquities to contemporary art by living artists.

Whether they are doing this more for personal reasons (decorating their house while holding on to something of great financial value which is expected to grow along with the Chinese yuan) or for patriotic reasons remains to be known. My assumption is that there is a little bit of both involved.

In the run-up to the October 6 auction in Hong Kong, a spate of auctions of Chinese art have taken place over the past few weeks, with Chinese bidders going far beyond the estimates and shocking many observers. The new Chinese collector has, in many ways, signaled his arrival by the manner in which he’s seemed completely impervious to either the global economic slowdown or auction trends, and is quickly building a reputation as willing to spend, brash, motivated and savvy.

This week, on Economist.com, the Chinese collector’s knack for repatriating Chinese art is examined, with the writer concluding that auctions — as a buyer’s game — are all about who brings the money and who’s willing to spend it. At recent auctions (and, I would have to assume, future auctions) many of these individuals are mainland Chinese:

Anyone who believes the art market has been felled by the financial crisis should have been in New York earlier this month for the seasonal auctions of Chinese bronzes, furniture and ceramics. The salerooms at Sotheby’s and Christie’s were overflowing with bidders, more than three-quarters of them from Hong Kong, mainland China and Taiwan. Extra Mandarin-speakers, all of them fluent and young, had been taken on specially to handle additional telephone bidding from Asia.

Rise Of New Chinese Collector Continues As Chinese Antiquities Remain “Recession Proof”

Astronomical Prices Paid For Historical And Quality Pieces In Recent Asian Auctions Defies Global Economic Woes As More Chinese Collectors Get In The Game

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?

Since good works by historical artists like Yue Minjun are becoming more scarce, Chinese collectors are expected to continue to flex their muscles in upcoming auctions of Chinese contemporary art

Hardly any industry has escaped the global economic slowdown unscathed, and art is no exception, but recent auction results indicate that the art market — or at least pockets of the art market — are coming back to life. As the Wall Street Journal reports today, in some recent auctions some pieces have sold for exponentially more than their estimates, surprising collectors and market analysts alike. The common bond shared by most of these pieces? They were Chinese — or, if not Chinese, Asian:

Last week, the longest string of Asian art sales since the Zodiac clock dispute was held in the U.S.—and amid the most entrenched art-market recession in nearly two decades, the auction prices of many more than a handful of pieces went through the roof. At the Sotheby’s sale of works from the collection of Arthur M. Sackler, for example, the auctioneer sang out fast-rising numbers, first in English, then Chinese, as if he were rising in the elevator of some fantastically tall Hong Kong skyscraper.

The emergence of the New Chinese Collector is a subject we’ve followed pretty much since our inception, and is a subject that is endlessly fascinating simply because it’s such a new phenomenon. While, technically, Chinese people have collected art for a few thousand years — with the exception of a few Mao-era decades where the practice was virtually nonexistent but for a few elite art lovers here and there — the New Chinese Collector has only existed for around 20 years, and arguably even less than that. This collector base was out in full force in recent auctions of Chinese and other Asian art — in New York, London and Hong Kong — and the motivation, desire and intensity of the Chinese collector is becoming somewhat legendary right before our eyes.

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“Art Colonies” Springing Up All Over China

Songzhuang Cultural And Arts Festival, Taking Place From September 20 To October 12, Showcases Artwork From Artistic Districts Around The Country

This year's Songzhuang Cultural and Arts Festival follows the success of last year's exhibitions

This year's Songzhuang Cultural and Arts Festival follows the success of last year's exhibitions

Although many art enthusiasts are familiar with Beijing’s larger and more established art districts, such as Dashanzi (大山子) and Caochangdi (草场地), one of the Chinese art world’s best-kept secrets is that the country is home to a number of smaller, more exclusive art communities. Running until October 12, the Songzhuang Cultural and Arts Festival looks to showcase the work of artists from these art colonies — both large and small — and give art lovers a glimpse into the wide range of artwork currently being produced throughout China. Titled “Community! Community!” this festival puts a strong emphasis on the work of artists in distinctly non-mainstream art communities in ten art “zones”:

Artists from ten different art zones in Nanjing, Chengdu, Xi’an, Wuhan and Changsha. were invited to display their artworks. Each art district has a separate location at the festival, featuring recently created artworks by artists representing each community.

Thirteen large-scale art museums and galleries, such as the Songzhuang Art Museum, Sunshine International Art Museum, and the LDX Contemporary Art Center, provide exciting exhibits.

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Sotheby’s Autumn Auction 2009: Top 10 Lots To Watch

Strong interest from Asian buyers expected to spark October sale in HK

As we reported recently, the Sotheby’s autumn auction of Asian art which highlights important contemporary Chinese pieces — will take place in Hong Kong on October 6. With combined estimates at over $12 Million US (HK $98 Million), this sale is expected to be one of the year’s biggest and most-watched auctions. As we have noticed in recent sales — both in Hong Kong and elsewhere — one thing we can expect in this auction is a high proportion of domestic Chinese buyers in the room, and we can expect them to be motivated to buy. Today, in preparation for the upcoming auction season, Forbes published an article on the market for Chinese art, noting that it is becoming gradually more difficult for western collectors to buy a range of Chinese art because of the growing collector base within the country. Describing the increasing numbers of Chinese bidders at antiquities auctions, Sallie Brady writes, “there’s a new dynamic afoot that promises to drive up prices: Mainland Chinese are entering the market in ever greater numbers.”

So for collectors who are interested in making bids on lots in the upcoming Sotheby’s auction, what should they know before they go head-to-head with Chinese buyers? Aside from doing their research to stay up-to-date on recent developments and informed about the past work and possible future longevity of the historical artworks that are up for grabs, it pays to know which lots are the “all stars.” I have looked through the catalog, and here is my list of the “Top 10” lots up for auction on October 6:

1.) Cai Guo-Qiang: Money Net No. 2 (2002)
Lot: 645
Estimate: US$ 605,000-705,000 (HK$ 4,700,000-5,500,000)

MoneyNet.jpg Cai Guo-Qiang (born 1957, Quanzhou, Fujian Province) was educated in stage design at the Shanghai Drama Institute from 1981 to 1985. Gunpowder is his trademark medium, from drawings and paintings made by igniting carefully monitored explosions on paper and canvas to massive explosion events like Projects for Extraterrestrials. He is also known for sculptural installation works such as Borrowing Your Enemy’s Arrows (1998), a massive wooden boat riddled with arrows that recalls a legendary tactic of an ancient Chinese general. Cai has had many solo exhibitions, including Cai Guo-Qiang on the Roof: Transparent Monument at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (2006) and Cai Guo-Qiang: I Want to Believe at the Guggenheim Museum in New York (2008). He was awarded the International Golden Lion prize at the 48th Venice Biennale (1999), and curated the first China Pavilion at the 51st Venice Biennale (2005). He was the Chief Special Effects Designer for the 2008 Beijing Olympics’ creative team. Cai lives in Brooklyn.
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Is Chinese Art the New Hedge?

Auction Surpasses Expectations, Stabilizes, Poised to Grow

Yue Minjun, Hats Series, Armed Forces

SOLD THIS WEEKEND: Yue Minjun, Hats Series, Armed Forces

As previously discussed, recent developments have shown that contemporary Chinese art continues to show enduring strength despite an overall weakness in the global art market. As I wrote on Saturday, this weekend’s auction of Southeast Asian art in Hong Kong was a bit of a disappointment, but all eyes were on Sunday’s auction of fine wines and Asian art — which included a mix of modernist and contemporary Chinese works by artists like Lin Fengmian, Zhu Yuanzhi, Huang Yongping, and Sui Jianguo. Unlike the Southeast Asian auction, Sunday’s results most certainly did not disappoint. Showing their resiliance amid a global financial slump, Chinese works destroyed expectations and records alike, bringing in over $20 million. And, as many observers have noted, competition for Chinese pieces was stiff, particularly from buyers from mainland China.

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