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Zhang  Xiaogang
Zhang Xiaogang, Forever Lasting Love, 1988, a folk-art-styled triptych of nude figures meditating in a symbol-strewn landscape, sold for the equivalent of $10.1 million, a new record for any Chinese artist

Art Market Watch

CHINA RULES WORLD AUCTIONS
Apr. 4, 2011

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Sotheby’s Hong Kong launched its spring series of Asian sales -- with estimates totaling an astonishing HK$2.4 billion (or $308 million) -- on Sunday, Apr. 3, 2011, with an auction of 105 lots from the collection of 74-year-old Belgian food magnate Guy Ullens (he owns Weight Watchers, too), a much-lauded provenance.

Indeed, the sales tripled the estimate of $16.7 million, soaring to $54.8 million, setting a new auction record for any contemporary Chinese artwork and boosting prices across the board, setting new auction records for a host of other artists.

If China doesn't rule the global auction market yet, you could do worse than predict it might well soon.

Bizarrely, this market triumph in Hong Kong takes place at the same time the mainland Chinese communist government is cracking down on poets, artists and intellectuals, including Ai Weiwei, who was detained at the airport and is currently being kept incommunicado.

Ullens promises to take his proceeds and buy more art.. He has also denied any lessening of support for the popular Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, opened in 2007 in Beijing’s 798 district.

Top lots and some of the new records:

Zhang Xiaogang, Forever Lasting Love, 1988, a folk-art-styled triptych of nude figures meditating in a symbol-strewn landscape, sold for the equivalent of $10.1 million, a new record for any Chinese artist.

Xiaogang, who is best known for his series of “Bloodline” portraits, previously had a record of $6.7 million, set six months ago. The current price surpasses previous records of $9.6 million for Zeng Fanzhi’s Mas Series No. 6, set at Christie’s Hong Kong in 2008, and $9.5 million for Cai Guo-Qiang’s suite of 14 gunpowder works, sold in 2007.

Zhang Peili
Zhang Peili, Series “X?” No. 3, 1986, sold for just under $3 million. The large (ca. 71 x 78 in.) work -- indeed, the final painting -- from a conceptualist series of 100 paintings of a pair of latex gloves, after which the artist is said to have abandoned painting for video (Peili is credited with being the first video artist in China).

Wang  Guangyi
Wang Guangyi, Mao Zedong: P2, 1988, sold for almost $2.5 million.

Geng Jianyi
Geng Jianyi, Two People under a Light, 1985, sold for $2.38 million

Ding Y
Ding Yi, Appearance of Crosses 90-6, 1990, a small (35 x ca. 47 in.) black-and-white pattern painting, sold for $2.24 million. Almost 40 30 works from this series have appeared at auction since 2006

Liu Wei
Liu Wei, No Smoking, 1998, sold for $1.8 million. This picture was purchased in London in 2008 for $208,000

New auction records were also set for Yu Youhan ($1.8 million), Yu Hong ($651,000), Wang Xingwei ($589,000), Zhou Tiehai ($465,000) and Xie Nanxing ($373,000).


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