Colin Gleadell cases the Ullens sale of Chinese Contemporary art at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong next week by talking to the godfather of Chinese Contemporary art collecting, Larry Warsh:
The Sotheby’s sale is the biggest in volume, if not in value, so far, and consists entirely of contemporary Chinese art. It includes several historically important early works by artists who were at the forefront of change in the 1980’s. The most valuable paintings by Zhang Xiaogang and Zeng Fanzhi (pictured) have been guaranteed to sell for over $3 million and $1 million respectively. But there are also significant works of much lesser value. A 1988 painting by Ma Xuhui, an associate of Zhang’s, is described as ’a masterpiece of priceless significance’ from one of the originators of the Chinese avant garde, and is estimated at just $50,000. A 1988 painting of a thermos flask by Yu Youhan, valued at $38,000, is an early example of Chinese pop art and is compared, within the context of Chinese art history, with Warhol’s early soup can paintings which fetch millions.
Larry Warsh, an American collector and promoter of Chinese art, believes prices will exceed estimates by ‘five or ten times.’ The buyers, however, will not be the western collectors who drove the market a decade ago, but new mainland Chinese buyers who drove prices at last November’s Hong Kong auctions back to the boom time levels of 2007 and 2008. Warsh believes the Ullens provenance will add value to the works, and that collectors will buy with the thought that such works should be in museums.
Chinese Art: Worry That Lies Behind the Smiles (Telegraph)