This analysis of David Zwirner’s effect on the Asian collector base is available to AMMpro subscribers. The first month’s subscription is free. Subscribers are welcome to join for the first month and cancel before they are billed.
In the wake of Leo Xu’s decision to join David Zwirner’s gallery in Hong Kong, there seems to be the knee-jerk assumption that Zwirner’s move will have an impact on the sale of Contemporary Chinese art, as evidenced by this quote in Artsy’s report on the move:
- “The influx of Western art will almost inevitably direct money away from Chinese artists,” said Josef Ng, the managing director for Asia at Pearl Lam Galleries. But he hopes that eventually, increased education and exposure will lead Chinese collectors to look back to artists from their homeland for “something new, something different and something more from this locale.”
In and of itself, Xu’s move should actually have the opposite effect. Over the last decade, Chinese contemporary art has moved from a Western collector base to a broader pan-Asian group of buyers who are equally interested in a range of Asian contemporary artists.
Zwirner, who represents the pan-Asian tent-pole artist Yayoi Kusama, is more likely to be able to use his stable of artists to attract Asian buyers who want to buy global contemporary art that is either Asian or Western.
Like his peers, Gagosian & Hauser + Wirth, Zwirner uses his blue chip names to attract collectors and introduce them to artists who have not yet attained that status. There’s good reason to believe that Zwirner’s next move, after attracting a growing base of Asian clients, will be to find more Asian artists in mid-career that can satisfy demand from the base he is cultivating.