China’s Xinhua News Agency spoke to Christie’s Pola Antebi who says that there’s a new flow of Chinese buyers coming from second-tier cities to compete with buyers from Beijing and Shanghai. These new buyers are pushing prices for classical works:
A recent report by the Beijing-based Artron Art Market Monitoring Center (AAMI) shows that Chinese painting and calligraphy accounted for nearly 59 percent of the Top 100 Auction Sales of Chinese Fine Art at last year’s domestic autumn auctions; and the classical painting category occupied about 49 percent of the market share other than contemporary art, ceramics and other works of art.
In a related story on the lopsided strength of Beijing’s auction houses versus Shanghai’s we get a better sense of what might be driving the market for classical Chinese works. There was a similar dynamic at work in Japan 25 years ago when they had a boom in Impressionist paintings:
“Chinese paintings and calligraphy are very popular, as many people use them as gifts in exchange for benefit. Although the purpose is clear, one cannot do this by giving piles of cash. This would be vulgar and offensive,” he explains.
“But art is different. Just imagine the effect if you take out an ancient Chinese scroll and present it as special gift to someone you wish to favor.”
Ji adds that the big auction houses in Beijing, including Guardian and Poly, all have good connections with the government.
Hammering It Home (Xinhua.net)