A very astute reader points out that you can see two different Giorgio Morandi paintings in Zeng’s studio during this video. Close readers of this site will remember that Zeng’s interest in Morandi has sparked demand for Morandi still lives among Chinese buyers. Those buyers were out in force during the Frieze auctions bidding fiercely for Morandis. However, the only work to sell above the estimate range was this one at Christie’s which made nearly £1m:
Adam Lindemann has a richly detailed report from ArtHK that deserves a close read. Basically, the collector is there shopping for great deals on Western works brought to the fair to attract new Chinese buyers but available at discount because they remained unsold. (If you’re a gallery, it is better to sell at a discount and let another New Yorker ship the work back than take it home yourself.)
While on the prowl, Lindemann did a little reporting on Chinese Contemporary artists like Zeng Fanzhi:
Edward Tang, an expert at Christie’s London who hails from Hong Kong, explained that Mr. Zeng paints every work himself in a style reminiscent of classic Chinese calligraphy, and that his latest series fits precisely the taste of the newly minted regional Chinese oligarch looking for big city savvy and status. Mr. Zeng’s prices reflect the strength of his brand; similar new paintings from his studio apparently sell for over $2 million today whereas, according to Mr. Tang’s father, China Club owner Sir David Tang, they were $500,000 just three years ago.
Are they a good investment at these levels? My Chinese friends spoke with pride of the value of this great painter, and I was reminded that, at auction, it takes only a single new buyer from the mainland of a country with a population of 1.3 billion to double yesterday’s value. The fact that Mr. Zeng recently left his sporadic representation at Acquavella Galleries and is rumored to be going to Gagosian serves only to confirm his blue-chip status.
Adam Lindemann is finally looking into Chinese Contemporary art. He narrates his recent trip to China, including a visit to Pace’s new Beijing space and a stop at Zeng Fanzhi’s studio, in the New York Observer:
I found that the Chinese art scene is a whole new world, with different rules and different norms. Artists like Zeng are prestigious celebrities, respected tycoons. Zeng’s studio had a parking lot with a few BMWs and a Bentley. Inside were several wealthy types smoking big cigars and listening to lite FM on a huge stereo. Although the wealthy Chinese visiting the studio told me they were not yet collecting, they were unanimous in telling me that they were ” thinking about it.” For now, for them, hanging out in Zeng’s studio, having tea or playing poker, was about status, not art.Continue Reading