CHINA’S ART MARKET GROWING TOO FAST?

The New York Times paper from May 23rd featured a center-fold advertisement of the China Daily China Watch section, in which China’s art market is highlighted.

As appraisers and dealers we all lament the uneven prices brought on by Chinese buyers — in the realm of Chinese antique and contemporary art. But things are not always what they seem to be. Last year, according to this article, the Chinese art market, usually evaluated by auction results, fell 40 percent in annual sales.
 
An additional issue for the uneven sales results — especially for the contemporary Chinese art market — is the absence of any criteria for gaging and appraising contemporary art. This makes the art work difficult to price, buy, collect and invest in. Buyers be mindful, this is riskier than in other markets.
 
The article observes, that although Chinese buyers have prominently participated at all trade levels, local and foreign art galleries have a tough time in China for a number of reasons — aggressive Chinese auction houses, and a loose and often ineffective system of artist representation.
 
Several local and foreign galleries have shut down in Beijing during the last year. Of the 1560 galleries in China, 742 are located in Beijing — fewer than 7% were able to make ends meet in 2012. In the Western art market, galleries play a prominent role, but in China, galleries sell less than half of the artwork that auction houses sell.
 
CHINA GUARDIAN AUCTION, BEIJING was highlighted. At their 2013 spring auction a total of $ 418 million (2.57 billion yuan) was realized; this includes in order of dollar values: sales of traditional paintings, oil paintings, sculptural pieces, porcelain and furniture, and jade and jewelry. Top lots included calligraphy and white jade.
 
There is no fear that the Chinese market will not continue to expand, as there are so many young and new people, a whole new generation, coming to the market.  People still have money but there is perhaps some uncertainty about, and lower confidence in a slower economy.
 
Photo from Galerie Urs Meile,  Chen Hui, Portrait Number 1. (I selected this - reminds me of  Giuseppe Arcimboldo)
 
Cheers,
Elisabeth and Natasha
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