Forbes India – Art: China continues to conquer the art market


Chinese paintings, calligraphy, antiques and porcelain still dominate auction halls, but the report notes growing interest in oil paintings and contemporary art.
Image: Isaav Lawrence/AFP

AAlthough landlocked, China is becoming a colossal engine of art. Auctions in the country accounted for 36% of the global market in 2020, according to a recent report – a proportion that has been growing steadily over the years.

The latest white paper on art and wealth in China, seen by The arts journal, reveals that the annual value of sales in the country fell 20% to 39.5 billion yuan ($6.2 billion), with nearly 100,000 transactions in mainland China last year. The artworks sold at auction had an average sale price of 400,000 yuan ($62,795).

Chinese paintings, calligraphy, antiques and porcelain still dominate auction halls, but the report notes growing interest in oil paintings and contemporary art. Sales in these two categories rose 3.3% to 9.3 billion yuan ($1.4 billion). On average, coins auctioned went under the hammer for 1.9 million yuan ($298,277).

Chinese art collectors are above all driven by passion

The different regions of China do not all play the same role in the national art market. In 2020, 53% of auctions took place in the Beijing area, compared to 44% the previous year. The authors of the report explain this increase by the arrival of the auction house Yongle Auction, and by the move of Huayi International to Beijing, according to The arts journal.

No matter where they live, Chinese collectors acquire art for specific reasons. A hundred of them based in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong were questioned about their motivations. Some 79% say they are driven by a passion, while 53% see it as a form of investment. These buyers mainly go through auction houses and art galleries to diversify their collections. Almost all of them (95%) own works by Chinese artists, followed by works from Europe and the rest of Asia (54%). American artists are less popular with Chinese collectors, with only a third of them owning such works.

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