With the surge in China’s economy over the past years it’s no surprise that some of the largest and most expensive collections of art belong to a few extremely wealthy individuals in China. The art market, much like the world economy, is being transformed by these collectors as, according to Artprice, 3 of the 10 most expensive art works sold at auctions last year were by Chinese artists.
According to the Wall Street Journal nearly a fifth of Christie’s global sales from the first half of the year were from Chinese collectors and Sotheby’s reported sales by Chinese buyers were nearly $960 million last year, a 47% rise from 2010. This has dramatically changed the world of art buying as names like Picasso, Lichtenstein and Warhol aren’t the heavyweights they once were because of Chinese collectors focusing on Chinese works. Many possible reasons could, and probably do exist to explain to this explosion. But here are the two biggest that I can think of:
- The standard nationalism that’s been part of China’s culture for the better part of the past 100 years has lead the Chinese to promote themselves in nearly ever facet possible, thus if they inflate their own artists and efforts, the world (art world in this case) might take notice.
- Another, less cynical, explanation could be the revisiting of standards and norms, as it’s been Western art that’s dominated the definition of “art” for the better part of, well… all of history.
This is just another example of a market shifting, this time however, it happens to be the world of art, something that many don’t think of s a “market;” although I’m sure China does.