Is the Chinese Art Bubble About to Burst?

Posted on February 7, 2011


Is the Chinese Art Bubble About to Burst?

Zhang Xiaogang Bloodline_2005



That’s the million dollar question isn’t it. The question many Collector’s and Experts are asking today?

If I were to look into my crystal ball I would answer. Maybe, Maybe Not, but I don’t really think so!

Perhaps Chinese art prices today are artificially high along with the price of most art selling on the auction block. More established markets like those that deal with traditional European and American art perhaps have a longer track record, like Impressionism and early twentieth century Modern Art movements. Pablo Picasso is selling very well and for record prices.

China today is hailed as an emerging economic power, but has been viewed as a minor influence in the Art World. Artists have been considered oppressed, even silenced in the old China of just a few decades ago. The early nineteen nineties offer substantial evidence of this opinion given the events of 1989 crackdown in Tiananmen Square.

Avant-garde art was often banned, because it was deemed hostile to the authority of the government.

Today I believe the emergence of a New China is evident in the work of a New Chinese Art Movement. The bonds that restricted artistic expression of what many believe is an oppressive government have been loosened. Artists in China have found their voice and they are excited by this new freedom. The contemporary art being produced by a wide variety of artists throughout China is fresh and exciting and the work by many leaders in this new art movement is powerful and important.

Will this energy last? Is China ready to let Creativity Run Free?

I think So! What I see is a China that is ready to emerge as not only an economic power but a Cultural Power. I think perhaps the steps forward down this path by the Chinese government are cautious but major. I also think the new economic leaders in China are pushing these ideas forward. As Chinese business leaders gain wealth along with China’s growing middle class, I believe they want the freedom now evident in the Art that is coming out of China.

While art itself can be an indicator I would turn your attention to New Chinese Architecture. It is bold, risky, innovative and very creative. Architecture is also a long term vision that reflects the ideas of a culture. It reflects a sense of sustainability. The message China is sending to the world through it’s new architecture is we are here, ready for the future. It is the same message the Artists of China are shouting.

As an Artist myself I am excited by the artwork coming out of China. Art in the West is retreating to a more conservative dialogue as has our architecture and our value of the Arts as a society. While the Arts in, really most of Asia are breaking out of their traditional boundaries Art in the West is seeking shelter in more conservative terms redefining safe boundaries. If for no other reason to preserve government support and funding which is dramatically leaning to a far more conservative position. Take the recent events that occurred when the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery removed a controversial work by Artist David Wojnarowicz after powerful Conservative members of Congress threatened their funding.

Perhaps American Artists need a little oppression to stimulate us to moved forward?

My point is simply, I think China gets the importance of the Arts and Creative thinking something that is in serious trouble in the West today.

This is why I think China is in it for the long haul. As cautious as the Chinese Government may be I believe the world is going to see real changes in China as a major creative force that is going to be well positioned to seize the future.

I was excited when I read the New York Times article Architects Find Their Dream Client, in China Mostly because my Mom had worked for one of the Architects mentioned in the article, Line and Space. She had been their bookkeeper for many years and was always excited about their projects. She retired just as the China project was starting. When I read the article I was impressed by the scope and vision of the China Development!

Les Wallach, an architect in Tucson, Ariz., has likewise found a receptivity he’s seldom seen in the United States. His 12-person firm, Line and Space, has designed a 40-mansion China Vanke community near Hong Kong. The original commission specified a “clubhouse” for the 40 families who would occupy the homes.

“I told them these people could belong to any club in the world,” Mr. Wallach says. “Why not do something entirely different?”

He hatched a concept for a hilltop retreat where artists could come to work; their art would become part of a communally owned gallery there.

“They thought about it for a little while and said, ‘Let’s do it,’ ” Mr. Wallach says. (Excerpt from the NYT)

Another quote form the NYT article that reinforces my point.

There’s no way a U.S. developer would let us do these,” Mr. McVoy says, adding that the American mentality is, “if it hasn’t been done before, then you shouldn’t do it. It’s all about risk, risk, risk. The Chinese have a kind of fearlessness to build things.”Chris McVoy, senior partner   Steven Holl Architects (Excerpt from the NYT)

Fearless is the approach to contemporary art in China today too! Take a look for yourself at some the emerging Artists and their work at these links.

Artist Hu Shanghai

Artists I am watching


Hu Shanghai

Tu Hongtao

Modern Architecture in China

Top 10

In Changing Face of Beijing, a Look at the New China

Emerging Ideas

In China’s New Revolution, Art Greets Capitalism

So the Question is:  Is the Chinese Art Bubble About to Burst?

NO! Not as long as the creative energy in China stays on it’s current path.

The bigger question we should be asking is: Is Contemporary Art in the West going to Regress because of Regressive Conservative Political pressure. If it does what’s our future going to look like?