A large work by Fang Lijun priced and sold for $1million was at Art & Public.
Shanghart had works by Wang Guangyi and Zeng Fanzhi (the Fanzhi sold for $530,000 to a European collector)
Wang Guangyi & Zeng Fanzhi
And most intriguing was the absence of the poster child for Chinese Contemporary, Zhang Xiaogang. Given the demand, fuelled by Chinese wealth and sudden Western “interest”, one would assume works by he and his contemporaries would be ubiquitous.
The question is the answer – Where can you buy their works, if not at a fair (from a dealer)? Go to an auction.
We have seen prices for these first generation Chinese artist multiply in the auction market because Lijun, Fanzhi, Xiaogang and the others have bypassed the gallery system completely. They grew up before the market existed in China and are accustomed to selling their work directly and then having it resold at auction. The market makers in Chinese Contemporary have openly acknowledged that these artists go directly to auction with their new work. The motive behind this is that 1st generation artists believe that private buyers are prepared to pay higher prices than dealers.
Things are changing though:
1. Western galleries have started to recruit Chinese artists (PaceWildenstein signed Xiaogang and Zhang Huan 2 months ago but didn’t feature any of their work in the booth).
2. Fairs are starting to emerge that focus specifically on Contemporary Asian Art, like the Asian Contemporary Art Fair (ACAF) in New York next winter from November 8 – 12. The fair is being sponsored by a Korean Collector, and directed by a curator I am not familiar with and the director of Mary Boone.
Zhang Xiaogang & Zhang Huan