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.
British news sources are reporting that nearly a dozen protesters “set off alarms and threw fake £50 notes in the air at Sotheby’s before unfurling a large banner bearing the words ‘orgy of the rich.'” Another protest outside staged a mock auction of public workers. The actions were in response to the UK government’s proposed cuts to public services and the arts.
There’s a pile of sunflower seeds on sale at Sotheby’s upcoming February 15 Contemporary Art Evening Auction, and it’s going for an equally large pile of money. How does $120,000 for 100 kilograms of seeds sound? But these aren’t just any seeds: they’re the same hand-crafted porcelain replicas that Chinese artist Ai Weiwei had made for his Turbine Hall installation. The real joke is that a (presumably) fake version of the artist’s work is up on Taobao (the Chinese version of eBay) for only $.25 per seed. Get ’em while they’re dusty (and still online)!
A rare Modigliani nude hit the auction block at Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern sale last night, and the painting didn’t disappoint. Bidding opened at $38 million and skyrocketed from there: five telephone bidders pushed the price up to a record-breaking $68,962,500, Artinfo reports.