Summit Probes Explosive Chinese Art Market Growth


Panelists and presenters at the artnet/CAA summit “The Chinese Art Market– Present and Future,” in New York on March 13

Top auction and gallery industry officials from China gathered in New York yesterday for a summit on the Chinese auction trade.

Organized by artnet and the China Association of Auctioneers (CAA), the event coincided with the kickoff of New York’s biannual Asia Week (March 14—20) and, fortuitously, the March 12 release of the 2014 TEFAF annual global art market report which found that China “remains the most important of all the newer art markets, both in terms of the size of its domestic sales and the importance of its buyers globally.”  China was, the report said, the second largest market by value worldwide in 2013, with sales of $15 billion.  Public auction sales in China reached $9.8 billion last year, with 29 percent by value taking place in Hong Kong.

CAA president Yanhua Zhang delivered the opening address, speaking about the dynamic growth of the auction market and setting the stage for future advancement. Wang Yannan, director of the art auction committee of the CAA as well as president and director of China Guardian auctions, the second largest house in China, then led a panel of distinguished experts on the topic of China’s rapidly growing art market.

Xindong Cheng, president of the Beijing Art Gallery association usefully traced the growth of the gallery business in China from three galleries in the mid 1990s—none of which were domestically owned, he noted— to more than 170 galleries currently, many of which are run by Chinese owners. Xindong stressed the importance of the commercial gallery within the Chinese art ecosystem as a “platform for exchange and communication.” Sun Qiuxia, a consultant for the CAA’s culture and artworks committee, cited an “overall confidence” in the Chinese art market, thoughshe also argued that the Chinese government “should pay more attention to financial and tax policy” as it relates to the art trade, and said there is too much interference. “They should let go of some of their policies and give us more freedom.”

Shangyong Liu, general manager of Rombon Auction Company, said the auction platform “has been embraced by many people,” in China, noting that the sector has grown the fastest of any art related businesses in the last two decades. Other panels explored Chinese contemporary art trends, changing perspectives on wealth in China, and the outlook for the Chinese auction market.

Eileen Kinsella


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