Here’s an interesting convergence of auction house marketing and eager media. Although late Picasso works have been rising in value on the art market for the better part of a decade, we’re now told their success is due to the attentions of Chinese collectors.
This just so happens to coincide with Sotheby’s big push to sell Modern Masters in China later this month and Christie’s upcoming sale, not to mention Ben Brown’s show of late Picassos in Hong Kong. Clearly there’s demand in Asia for this work. But the rising prices for these works peaked long before the Chinese arrived on the auction scene. That doesn’t stop BusinessWeek’s Rachel Wolff from condescending to Asian buyers:
In the past two years, though, these large, bright, and loud works have become sensations. In a perfect marriage of questionable taste and label snobbery, newly wealthy Chinese collectors are flocking to late Picassos and helping drive prices to unprecedented levels. What’s the allure? Well, they’re large, bright, and loud—and, of course, they were painted by Picasso. “There is something about these works that definitely appeals to the Chinese,” says Ken Yeh, Christie’s Asia chairman. “Many of the late Picassos are very colorful and big in scale. In Asia, they generally prefer larger paintings. Size does matter.” […]
Last week, Christie’s and Sotheby’s achieved similar results at their New York auction houses with Chinese collectors bidding aggressively on most lots. Christie’s sold Picasso’s Faune, Femme Nu et Mousquetaire, a raunchy drawing made in 1967, for $1.3 million—$500,000 more than its presale estimate—as well as the 1964 painting Le Peintre et Son Modèle, which met heightened expectations by fetching nearly $3 million. At Sotheby’s, Picasso’s Homme au Fanion (1969) brought in $5.4 million. […]
Christie’s Bertazzoni notes the similarities between late Picassos and increasingly popular contemporary Chinese paintings, particularly in the use of caricature and a subliminally disenchanted political tone. Although it’s too soon to tell whether these aesthetic connections will remain valid, experts note that it hardly matters when pieces are selling for 500 percent more than what they fetched a decade ago.
The Chinese Love Late Picassos (BusinessWeek.com)