The South China Morning Post has a good history of Picasso’s art in China. The article makes a foolish mistake equating the rising price of late Picasso works with their popularity among Chinese buyers. The late works rose in value for a number of years before the Chinese started buying. In fact, it may be a case of the tail wagging the dog where Chinese buyers caught the tail end of the interest in late works by the master:
Picasso wasn’t to truly “arrive” in China until 1996, when, following the initiation of Deng Xiaoping’s open-door policy, two German collectors and art patrons, Peter Ludwig and his wife, Irene, donated 89 paintings worth US$27 million to the China National Museum of Fine Arts, in Beijing. The donation included three paintings and one ink drawing by Picasso, notably works from the painter’s last period 1960s-70s, which was characterised by large-format and colourful paintings of quirky musketeers and naked female figures.
In 2003, in an act of art diplomacy, then French president Jacques Chirac opened a Beijing exhibition of 25 Picasso paintings the French state had received from the painter’s heirs in payment of estate duties two decades earlier. Since then, numerous exhibitions have showcased Picasso’s artwork in China, including a three-month exhibition, in 2011, of 48 paintings, prints and sculptures from Paris’ Musée Picasso at the China pavilion at the former site of the Shanghai World Expo.
Over the past 12 months, Picasso’s art has attracted crowds all over the country: masterpiece etchings from the 1930s Vollard Suite collection in Beijing; ceramics in Zibo, Shandong province; paintings in Nanjing and Wuhan. Even the online community has joined the fray: a Picasso print dated 1963 was offered on Taobao in May. No other Western artist has had such exposure.
Chinese collectors’ passion for Picasso skews global art market (South China Morning Post)