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China tops rankings for art auction revenue

By Katharine Jacobs on 09 April

Worker farmer soldier student businessman

Zhang Xiaogang
Worker farmer soldier student businessman, . 2007-2008

As auctions at home pull in varied results, internationally it is the Chinese art market which is seeing vast, and some fear inflated, growth. Global leader in art market information, Artprice, declared China number one in Fine Art auction revenue earlier this month, while a sale in Hong Kong this week broke records and catapulted Chinese artist Zhang Xiaogang above the US $10 million mark.

According to Artprice, in 2010, China accounted for 33% of global Fine Art sales (paintings, installations, sculptures, drawings, photography, prints), while the USA made up 30%, the UK 19 % and France, 5%. There were also four Chinese artists in the Top 10 ranking of global artists by auction revenue. 

Last Sunday, meanwhile, Zhang Xiaogang became the most expensive living Chinese artist with a triptych entitled Forever Lasting Love selling for US$10.1 million.

The artist, whose paintings reference family photographs from China’s Cultural Revolution, joins Lucian Freud, Damien Hirst, Jasper Johns, Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami and Gerhard Richter, as artists who have fetched in excess of US $10 million.

But not everyone is optimistic about the apparent boom in Chinese art. Citing the collapse in the early nineties, when Japanese wealth rapidly pulled out of the market, Art Market have suggested that the situation remains unstable. According to art market analyst, Nicholas Forrest, the foundations of the economy are built on shaky ground, and many new consumer developments stand empty. 

Whatever its future, the Chinese art market certainly seems to be the market to appeal to at present.

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