Tag Archives: contemporary chinese art

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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Exhibition Of Young Contemporary Chinese Artists Heads To Kansas City

“Looking East” Exhibition Showcases China’s Up-And-Coming Artists, Reflecting The Generational Difference Between Young Artists And ’90s Superstars

Guo Wei's art reflects the rebelliousness and angst of China's so-called "post-80s Generation" (Image: Kansas City Star)

Guo Wei's art reflects the rebelliousness and angst of China's so-called "post-80s Generation" (Image: Kansas City Star)

With regular news about China’s most famous artists selling works for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and in some cases well over a million dollars, over the past five years, it can be easy to forget that China’s art world is in a constant state of flux, with thousands of young artists coming out of art schools and vying for attention. Although artists like Yue Minjun and Zhang Xiaogang have quickly become major global art stars, China’s younger artists are little known outside of their home country (and, more often than not, are unknown there as well), so the news that Kansas City is mounting a relatively large-scale and far-ranging exhibition of works by young Chinese artists must give some of these art greenhorns some hope for their future prospects.

The “Looking East” group exhibition, held at the Byron C. Cohen Gallery for Contemporary Art, follows previous solo shows of Chinese artists Hong Chun Zhang, Chong Siew Ying and Deng Wushu at the gallery, and offers viewers a glimpse at many of China’s burgeoning young talents. From the Kansas City Star:

Three prints by Yang Qian seem shallow and self-indulgent compared with [Sheng Qi’s politically-motivatd] oils. Yang wields tremendous skill to produce voyeuristic fantasies of spying on beautiful women through moist windowpanes or in foggy mirrors.

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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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Carnegie Hall’s ‘Ancient Paths, Modern Voices’ Festival Comes To Orange County, CA & NYC

Festival Will Bring Together Performing And Visual Arts, Music, And Film

Several top contemporary Chinese artists like Yue Minjun will be featured during Carnegie Hall's Ancient Paths, Modern Voices" festival later this month

Several top contemporary Chinese artists like Yue Minjun will be featured during Carnegie Hall's Ancient Paths, Modern Voices" festival later this month

This month is shaping up to be pretty exciting for China-watchers in Orange County, California and New York City, as Carnegie Hall presents a new festival celebrating Chinese culture, “Ancient Paths, Modern Voices.” Scheduled for both cities are a number of performances by top Chinese musicians, film screenings, contemporary Chinese art exhibitions and more. The festivals will take place from October 11 to November 24 in Orange County and from October 21–November 10 in New York. From a release:

“The immemorial culture of China has made itself felt throughout the world for many centuries-but its influence today is arguably more widespread, and more directly present, than at any other time in history,” stated Dean Corey, President and Artistic Director of the Philharmonic Society of Orange County. “That is the source of the richness and excitement of Ancient Paths, Modern Voices. The festival presents extraordinary expressions of the most venerable Chinese artistic traditions, then brings them into the here and now. This is Chinese culture in all its variety, from the deepest roots to the greenest branches.”

In New York, a number of partner organizations across the city will take part in the three-week festival, contributing venues as well as experts in the field of Chinese performing arts:

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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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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.

Art Market Confidence Index Shows 75% Of HK Auction Respondents In The Mood To Buy

As Hong Kong “Stirs From Slumber” And Buyer Confidence Remains High In China, What Can We Expect To See Next Week?

Zeng Fanzhi is one of the historical Chinese contemporary artists up for auction in Hong Kong next week

Zeng Fanzhi is one of the historical Chinese contemporary artists up for auction in Hong Kong next week

We’ve been interested in the upcoming Hong Kong Sotheby’s auctions of Contemporary Chinese, Southeast Asian and other Asian art, with a particularly obvious fixation on the Chinese side, for some time. After the surprising turnout of mainland Chinese, and their willingness to go far above and beyond lot estimates to take home something they’ve set their hearts on, Sotheby’s is likely expecting a good proportion of bidders both from the mainland and other areas of Greater China — definitely Hong Kong, since buyers from that market have been something of a fixture at Chinese art auctions for ages. And while the unpredictable nature of art auctions makes it difficult to forecast how next week’s auctions turn out (although total revenue estimates for all of the Hong Kong auctions are close to US$100 million), many people are excited and motivated to buy some high-quality, historical art.

One thing that makes the auction of contemporary Chinese art even more interesting to me on a personal level is the way it will coincide with “Golden Week,” a week of celebrations coinciding with both Chinese National Day and the Mid-Autumn Festival. If last year’s turnout was any indication, Golden Week could draw well over a million mainlanders to Hong Kong this year, most of whom are coming to the city either to shop for expensive objects or eat and drink for days. While Golden Week, on its own, really shouldn’t affect the Sotheby’s sale too much, it is within the realm of possibility that some of the shopping-mad mainlanders might be shipping a Yue Minjun or Liu Ye painting home along with their boxes of luxury goods.

Another reason I’m excited about the Hong Kong sales next week is because of this article, published today by Art Market Insight, which is bullish on the article because of the comparatively fast re-emergence of Hong Kong following the global economic crisis:

Once again, Sotheby’s is weighting its sale in favour of the Contemporary segment (Contemporary Asian Art) which carries the richest of the three catalogues with 190 lots and a total revenue estimate of $12.5m. In order to re-kindle interest amongst its biggest clients, the auctioneer has built a catalogue of very attractive signatures. Among the star lots: a powder drawing by CAI Guoqiang , Money net NO.2, estimated at HKD 4.7m – 5.5m, ($606,000 – $710,000), several paintings by YUE Minjun , including Hats series – The lovers expected to generate around $400,000 (estimated HKD 2.8m – 3.5m), three paintings from the famous Chinese Portrait series by FENG Zhengjie including a superb contemporary Amazon (4 x 3 metres) estimated at $100,000 – $130,000 (HKD 800,000 – 1m). A very similar monumental portrait fetched $133,000 in June 2009 (Phillips de Pury & Company, London, £81,000).

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