Who Are the Most Popular Living Chinese Artists?

The biggest names in Chinese art, ranked.

Chinese artist Zeng Fanzhi. Photo: FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images.

Over the past decade, the Chinese art market has seen tremendous growth, expanding to a size where it has made a significant impact on the global art auction landscape.

In fact, the Chinese art market is the third largest in the world, making up 19 percent of global art sales, according to the 2016 TEFAF Art Market Report. And it’s not only Chinese domestic art sales that drive interest. The Global Chinese Art Auction Market Report, compiled by artnet and the China Association of Auctioneers (CAA), asserts that overseas sales of Chinese art has more than quadrupled since 2009.

At the heart of the surging interest in Chinese contemporary art is, of course, the artists themselves. The country’s artistic styles are as rich and varied as the culture from which they emerge; ranging from contemporary painting by the likes of star artists Zeng Fanzhi and Liu Wei to the traditional illustrations of the 92-year-old artist Huang Yongyu. There are also prominent absences, most notably artist and activist Ai Weiwei, whose notoriety and international popularity is not reflected in strong cumulative auction sales.

So who are the artists that are driving the Chinese art market? To find out we scanned the artnet Price Database to determine the top selling living Chinese artists, ranked by total auction sales volume.

Zeng Fanzhi, The Last Supper (2001) sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong on October 5, 2013, for $23,269,070.Photo: artnet.

Zeng Fanzhi, The Last Supper (2001) sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong on October 5, 2013, for $23,269,070. Photo: artnet.

1. Zeng Fanzhi
Total sales volume: $444,759,162

 

Cui Ruzhuo, The Grand Snowing Mountain (2013). Courtesy Poly Auction Company.

Cui Ruzhuo, The Grand Snowing Mountain (2013). Courtesy Poly Auction Company.

2. Cui Ruzhuo
Total sales volume: $396,599,531

 

Zhang Xiaogang, Bloodline: Big Family No. 3 (1995) sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong on April 5, 2014, for $12,144,809.Photo: artnet.

Zhang Xiaogang, Bloodline: Big Family No. 3 (1995) sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong on April 5, 2014, for $12,144,809. Photo: artnet.

3. Zhang Xiaogang
Total sales volume: $309,987,549

 

Fan Zeng. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Fan Zeng. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

4. Fan Zeng
Total sales volume: $309,130,240

 

Zhou Chunya, July, ChinaToday Gallery

Zhou Chunya July. Photo: ChinaToday Gallery

5. Zhou Chunya
Total sales volume: $194,180,734

 

He Jiaying. Photo: Berlin ArtParasites via Facebook.

He Jiaying. Photo: Berlin ArtParasites via Facebook.

6. He Jiaying
Total sales volume: $170,438,996

 

Huang Yongyu. Photo: China Daily via Facebook.

Huang Yongyu. Photo: China Daily via Facebook.

7. Huang Yongyu
Total sales volume: $166,209,792

 

Yue Minjun, Blue Sky and White Clouds, 2013, oil on canvas, Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris, France

Yue Minjun Blue Sky and White Clouds (2013). Photo: Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris.

8. Yue Minjun
Total sales volume: $148,545,080

 

Liu Wei, The Revolutionary Family Series (triptych), 1994. The painting set an artist price record when it sold for $5 million at the Sotheby’s Modern and Contemporary Asian Art Evening Sale in Hong Kong on April 3. Photo: courtesy Sotheby’s.

Liu Wei, The Revolutionary Family Series (triptych), 1994. The painting set an artist price record when it sold for $5 million at the Sotheby’s Modern and Contemporary Asian Art Evening Sale in Hong Kong on April 3.
Photo: courtesy Sotheby’s.

9. Liu Wei
Total sales volume: $114,144,337

 

 Liu Xiaodong, Disobeying the Rules (1996) sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong on Sunday, October 5, 2014, for $8,530,818.Photo: artnet.

Liu Xiaodong, Disobeying the Rules (1996) sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong on Sunday, October 5, 2014, for $8,530,818. Photo: artnet.

10. Liu Xiaodong
Total sales volume: $111,698,788


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