China now ranks first in the global art market, ahead of the UK and the USA, the countries that have led the field since the 1950s. This is indicated by fine art sales at public auctions. In 2010, China accounted for 33% of global Fine Art sales (paintings, installations, sculptures, drawings, photography, prints), versus 30% in the USA, 19 %in the UK and 5% in France. Moreover, there were four Chinese artists in the Top ten ranking of global artists by auction revenue for 2010 (as compared to one in 2009), the lowest of whom generated $112 million dollars during the year. Qi Baishi was in 2nd place ahead of Andy Warhol and ahead of his compatriot Zhang Daqian; Xu Beihong took 6th place with a total of $176m and Fu Baoshi was 9th.
The younger generation of Chinese artists is now achieving even greater success than their older counterparts: more than half of the 2010 global Top Ten of Contemporary artists are Chinese (Zeng Fanzhi, Chen Yifei, Wang Yidong, Zhang Xiaogang, Liu Xiaodong and Liu Ye) compared with just three Americans (Basquiat, Koons, and Prince). The heart of the market now beats in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai, the new driving hubs of the global art market.
Not only has China's economic strength (second global power in 2010) boosted its art market and projected its culture around the world, but China's art sector has benefited from the support of its government and of Chinese collectors who are as patriotic as they are prompt to invest. China has understood the Power of Art in the history of nations. In addition, the number of auction records for Chinese artworks is bound to increase as the number of Chinese billionaires rises by 20% per year through 2014, as compared to 5.6% p.a. for the rest of the planet.
Photo courtesy Langham Place, Beijing Capital Airport