China’s Surge Sells Art as Affordable Luxury for Middle Class

Affordable Art Beijing
The Los Angeles Times covers Surge, once known as the Affordable Art Beijing art fair, which is now launching an online platform. The work is predominantly Chinese ink paintings but will offer a range of Chinese art:

Surge’s e-commerce portal is being launched on the back of the company’s successful run of art fairs, held annually in Beijing since 2006. Originally called Affordable Art Beijing, Surge will also hold fairs in Shanghai and Hong Kong this year and plans to expand into Chengdu, Guangzhou and Hangzhou in 2014.

Back in 2006, buyers at the fair were predominantly foreign expats purchasing works as a souvenir of their time in China or international collectors looking to snap up a bargain. But there has been a shift toward the local market. At the most recent Surge fair, April 30 to May 2, Chinese buyers accounted for more than 80% of the revenue, according to the organizers.

This change reflects not just the growth of a demographic able to afford art but also a change in attitudes. Wealthy members of the generation who grew up during tough times in the ’60s and ’70s tend to be committed savers. But those who belong to the “balinghou,” or post-’80s generation, are accustomed to spending hundreds of dollars on entertainment, holidays abroad and luxury purchases.

Bringing Art to the Middle Class in China (Los Angeles Times)