7 Auction Highlights from China Last Year

Today is Chinese New Year! Join us as Artory looks at 7 auction highlights out of China from the past year. Artory’s free price database contains millions of public sales records from across the world, making it the most comprehensive price and provenance database available at no cost to the public.

According to an article by The Art Newspaper, in 2020, “while the Western art market is still in recovery mode, the Asian market is forging ahead. Frantic bidding in Hong Kong in December saw new records set at Phillips and at Christie’s for young artists.”

Zhang Xiaogang (张晓刚)

Bloodline Series The Big Family No. 2,” (1995).

From Christie’s: “In 1995, three paintings from the Big Family series were unveiled at the 46th Venice Biennale, and caused a huge sensation on the global art scene.” It became a milestone for both Zhang Xiaogang (张晓刚) and Chinese contemporary art. “Bloodline Series The Big Family No. 2,” (1995) was sold by Christie’s on December 1, 2020 for over HKD 98 million (USD 12.6 million).

Matthew Wong

“River at Dusk,” (2018).

In December 2020, in the joint sale by Phillips and Poly Auction, “20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale,” Matthew Wong’s “River at Dusk” was sold for HKD 37.8 million (USD 4.9 million), nearly four times its higher estimate. It surpassed the previous record set by Christie’s in October, 2020, when “Shangri La,” (2017) was sold for US $4.5 million, more than six times the high estimate. According to an article by Ocula, his works “have gone up in price more than two hundredfold since his debut show in New York in 2018.”

Sanyu (常玉)

“Quatre Nus,” (c. 1950)

The Chinese-French painter Sanyu (常玉, also spelled Yu Chang) has received increased market interest in recent years. In July 2020, his “Quatre Nus” was sold HKD 258 million (USD 33.3 million) at Sotheby’s Modern Art Evening Sale in Hong Kong.

Two days later, his other painting, “Chrysanthèmes Blanches Dans Un Pot Bleu Et Blanc (White Chrysanthemum In A Blue And White Jardiniere)” was sold at Christie’s Modern and Contemporary Art Evening Sale for HKD 191.62 million (USD 24.72), more than twice its estimate.

Zhang Daqian (张大千)

Ancient Pine In Lush Mountainscape,” (1971).

This ink on silk, “Ancient Pine In Lush Mountainscape,” (1971) is by one of the best-known modern Chinese artists, Zhang Daqian (张大千). According to the MET, Zhang’s “long residency outside China inevitably brought him into contact with modern Western art, including Abstract Expressionism.” Known for his “splashed-color” landscape, he painted with intense mineral colors and broad washes of layered ink. This painting was sold by Sotheby’s Hong Kong on October 8, 2020 at the “Fine Chinese Paintings” sale, with the premium price HKD 24,175,000 (USD 3.1 million).

Chu Teh-Chun (朱德群)

Les Éléments Confédérés,” (1983-84).

Another great Chinese-French painter known for the integration of Chinese traditional landscape and Western abstract art is Chu Teh-Chun (朱德群). Before moving abroad, he attended the National School of Fine Arts, now known as China Academy of Art, along with Zao Wou-Ki (赵无极) and Wu Guanzhong (吴冠中), with whom Chu became lifelong friends. This 63.8 x 255.9 in. pentaptych, “Les Éléments Confédérés,” was sold for HKD 113,688,000 (USD 14,691, 041) by Sotheby’s Hong Kong at the “Modern Art Evening Sale” on July 8, 2020.

Wu Guanzhong (吴冠中)

“Scenery Of Northern China,” (1973)

Best known for landscapes of his homeland, Wu Guanzhong (吴冠中) studied at both the National School of Fine Arts in China and the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. This oil painting, “Scenery of Northern China,” was sold for HKD 151,436,000 (USD 19,540,381) by Sotheby’s Hong Kong at the “Modern Art Evening Sale” on October 5, 2020.

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