China takes pole position in auctions

Updated: 2011-04-07 12:03

By Lin Qi (China Daily)

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China takes pole position in auctions

A Chinese vase made in the Qianlong period displayed by Hong Kong Sotheby's in Shanghai for its 2011 spring auction. Jiang Ren / For China Daily

The global art market has undergone a sea change with China taking the pole position in auctions from the United States and the United Kingdom says a new report from French art market information provider

"China accounted for 33 percent of the global fine art sales (including paintings, installations, sculptures, drawings, photography and prints), compared with 30 percent in the US, 19 percent in the UK and 5 percent in France," says the report on the 2010 trends.

In 2009, China accounted for just 17.4 percent of the fine art auction sales turnover and was ranked third after the US and the UK. The current (China's) elevation to the top slot "represents a turning point in the history of the global art market", says the Artprice analysis.

Aside of the auctions, four Chinese artists have also entered the top 10 ranking of global artists by auction revenue for 2010. Qi Baishi (1864-1957), who was ranked third and was the only Chinese artist on the list in 2009, was in the second slot in 2010. Other Chinese masters who figured in the rankings were Chang Dai-chien (1899-1983), Xu Beihong (1895-1953) and Fu Baoshi (1904-1965).

The rising popularity of modern Chinese painters and the high auction prices they have been commanding in recent years somewhat explains the significant advances made by China in the auction market.

With the contemporary art sector yet to recover from the bleak performances during the financial crisis, it has been more of China's younger artists who have had a resurgent 2010. Six Chinese artists figure in Artprice's top 10 contemporary global artists. Prominent among them are Zeng Fanzhi, Chen Yifei, Wang Yidong, Zhang Xiaogang, Liu Xiaodong and Liu Ye.

Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai have become the new hubs of the global art market. More and more attention is now being paid to homegrown auction houses, and many have clocked auction records and traveled extensively for overseas consignments in the past two years. A report by the Beijing-based Artron Art Market Monitoring Center (AAMI) says that art auction sales in the Chinese mainland amounted to 57.3 billion yuan ($8.74 billion) in 2010, up 150 percent over 2009.

China Guardian Auctions, arguably the country's oldest art auction house, posted an unprecedented total sales of 7.55 billion yuan ($1.15 billion) in 2010 since it was founded 17 years ago. Its major rival Poly International Auction chalked up 9.15 billion yuan ($1.39 billion). The performances were far in excess of the sales of Christie's and Sotheby's Hong Kong in 2010, who totaled $721.9 million and $685 million respectively.

In the 2010 autumn sales, about 20 artworks, mostly classic Chinese paintings and imperial ceramics, were sold close to or above the 100 million-yuan mark line in domestic auction houses.


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