A study by Artprice finds that the Chinese art market is the largest in the world — but only in terms of auctions. The misleading news bite is telling in other ways, though. The Chinese domestic auction market is growing so quickly in part because Western auction houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s have failed to dominate even while the Chinese collector community has grown hugely.
What’s your sign? Chinese artist and international icon Ai Weiwei will be bringing his own custom-designed set of Zodiac sculptures to New York City’s Plaza Hotel from May 2 through July 15, reports the New York Times. The works seem harmless, but they have a historical context that gives them a deeper political meaning.
Throughout the course of NYC’s art fair week, I overheard questions over what art work was being sold, and who it was being sold to. Of course, art fairs exist to sell work, and the work on display is there to be sold. But where do these works come from? This is where the secondary market comes in. Though most galleries simply sell work from the studios of the artists they represent, the secondary market deals in works that have already been sold, at least once. Fairs like the Armory’s Modern section focus heavily on secondary market works, as do auction houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s.
When Christie’s recently became a sponsor of Hyperallergic, I knew little if anything about Robert Shapazian, whose important contemporary art collection was advertised on this site and sold this week.
The founding director of the Gagosian Gallery during its early, non-world domination phase, I’m discovering (late) that Shapazian was a fascinating character who I wish I had met. The collector/gallery professional had a front-row seat to witness the transformation of the art world from “a relatively quiet and private place” to the contemporary scene, where “branding is the mantra of our time.”
His observations about money and aesthetics are particularly insightful …