New canvas to work on

Updated: 2016-01-19 08:47

By Deng Zhangyu(China Daily)

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New canvas to work on

Pan Tianshou's inkandwash painting Eagle, Rock and Flora.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Both the works sparked excitement in the Chinese market because they were a rare sight, not seen since 2011, the peak of China's art market, when its sale revenue climbed up to 57.6 billion yuan.

Other big sales included Buddha sculptures, which have continued to maintain their popularity over the years. A 14th-century sculpture of Shakyamuni fetched 103.5 million yuan at Poly Auction's autumn sale, becoming the most expensive Buddha sculpture of the year. Poly Auction is a major Chinese auction house.

Celebrities' letters - still a new category for Chinese collectors - saw unexpected popularity. From art master Zhang Daqian's love letters to his Japanese girlfriend to scripts by Kang Sheng from former vice-premier Gu Mu's collection, all went for prices which ranged from hundreds of thousand yuan to several millions.

But for auction houses, big sales don't always happen and they can't support the whole industry. So the future trend has to be about developing an art business online, including auctions and art trade, says Guan Yu, deputy director of Cultural Affairs Bureau of Beijing Municipality.

Through the Internet, art dealers can easily reach their targeted audience, especially the growing Chinese middle class that is becoming more interested in art, given the popularity of art fairs and high-quality exhibitions featuring both Western and traditional Chinese art masters last year, says Guan.

International auction houses like Christie's and Sotheby's started online auctions several years ago. There are now daily online auctions and special spots for top buyers who cannot go to bidding spots.

Sotheby's stepped into online auctions in 2010, and its recent online auction with eBay for a Star Wars memorabilia collection attracted 87 percent new bidders, says Wen Guihua, a senior consultant for Sotheby's in Asia.

But Wen says: "The market will be more segmented in 2016. While auction houses will offer services for wealthy and senior collectors, online auctions and art trading will cater to the growing middle class."