Dylan C. Lathrop / The Chinese Boom

The Guardian looks at the contemporary Art market in China.

Above: Zhang Xiaogang. (Photo: Dan Chung)

Dylan C. Lathrop writes: This stimulating article was featured in the US section of the Guardian on Wednesday. Jonathan Watts discusses the booming Chinese art market and tracks the money flowing into China, but also the growing concerns of commercialization and the negative impact it may be having on the creative process.

Chinese artwork has been booming over the past seven years, so how does such a movement deal with commerce in its infancy?

More interesting to this conversation, within the global context, is how much money is flowing into the economy from the sale of artwork in China. That number used to be based primarily on sales from abroad, but over the past three years there has been a 30% increase in domestic sales from nearly zero before that. Chinese middle to upper-middle classes are growing and now can enjoy the splendors of cultural luxuries such as art.

That kind of increase in spending directly ties to those (terrifying? thrilling?) projected numbers of growth in China and India. This flux of economic identities between east and west paints a very interesting backdrop for this discussion of the practice of art and commerce in China.

2 Responses to “Dylan C. Lathrop / The Chinese Boom”

This correlation between the rise of a middle-class and a thriving art market has naturally occurred before in history, particularly in the Netherlands in the mid-seventeenth century. As merchants became wealthier a market was created for still-lives and other decorative scenes. The artists, well trained in the miniaturist tradition, painted exquisitely detailed pieces that often times included a message of warning. For instance, in Willem van Aelst’s Still Life with Dead Game, 1661 a classical myth is depicted in the shadows. The chaste goddess of the hunt, Diana, punishes Actaeon for surprising her while she’s bathing naked. He sprouts antlers and will die of his own wounds for giving into sinful pleasures. This narrative serves as a warning from the artist to the viewer not to grow vain in the face of his newfound wealth. It will be interesting to see if the contemporary art market in China reveals a similar tone.

Tara Kellenberger added these words on Mar 17 08 at 4:14 PM

Fascinating insight, thank you for this.

Erik Brandt added these words on Mar 18 08 at 6:28 PM

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