Young at heart, and they love art

Updated: 2014-06-20 08:21

By Huang Ying (China Daily)

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Young at heart, and they love art

Christie's employees hold the picture "The Portico of a 17th Century Church is Yaroslavl" by Vasily Vereshchagin. Auction house Christie's will offer a selection of paintings and works of art in its Russian Art Sale, which will be held in London on June 2, 2014. [Photo/IC]

Under-40 collectors are becoming big players in the nation's auction market, reports Huang Ying

Young at heart, and they love artA young generation of Chinese collectors with eclectic tastes is assuming a growing role in the nation's art auction market, and they're set to lift the fortunes of their contemporaries who paint and sculpt, said industry officials.

"Young buyers and collectors from China are emerging as growing powers in the market. Unlike the classic collectors, who are mostly in their 50s or 60s, this younger group has demonstrated more international taste in purchasing art, and they're readier to accept Western art and culture, said Cai Jinqing, president of China operations for global auctioneer Christie's International Plc.

By "young", Cai means below the age of 40. "Most of them have studied overseas and tend to be more open to the new things," said Cai.

"Cultural values change with time, and young art buyers and collectors are more attracted to the work of people close to their ages," said You Yang, deputy director of the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, a Beijing-based nonprofit art institution.

And as young collectors take a growing role in China's art market, the nation is becoming a more important player in the global art industry.

In 2013, China remained the world's second-largest art market after the United States, with a 24 percent share, according to the European Fine Art Foundation.

After a slump in 2012, influenced by the global and national economic slowdowns, art sales rose last year in China, the foundation said.

In 2012, global art market sales dropped 7 percent year-on-year to 43 billion euros ($58 billion), mainly due to a 30 percent contraction in China's art market.

Modern and contemporary artworks currently account for only a small portion of total sales, but with the rise of young collectors, this segment has huge potential for development.

"Among domestic auction houses, modern and contemporary artworks only constitute a tiny part of their portfolios, which means that it's quite a promising sector in the future," said You.

In 2013, China's art market recorded sales of 11.5 billion euros, up 2 percent.

"Young collectors are destined to be the backbone of China's art market, but I think that Chinese culture will have more influence on them as they age and Chinese artwork will dominate the market in the years to come," said Xu Xiaoling, China representative of the European foundation.

Also, young collectors' purchasing power is lower than that of their elders, said You.

"You would find that most of the big-ticket modern and contemporary pieces are purchased by classic Chinese collectors, because they have the money for them," said You.

Young at heart, and they love art

Young at heart, and they love art

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