Parsing Asian demand (Spring 2011)

The biggest driver of growth in the Asian auction markets has been and continues to be Chinese Works of Art. Some market observers postulate that this sector is the most accessible of the various Asian art categories for new collectors, which would account for some of the irrational exuberance demonstrated at the moment.

Curiously other Asian sectors, such as Indian & Southeast Asian Works of Art (which consists of ancient art from countries including India, Cambodia and Thailand), have not experienced a significant increase in buying activity and prices. The art is of similar quality and cultural importance to that of ancient China, but collectors from these countries are more attracted to their own modern and contemporary art as well as that from the West. Consequently, they have not developed an interest in older works with the same passion the Chinese have shown towards their native Han culture. Despite a few notable exceptions, this market is still heavily influenced by American and European collectors, especially at the top end.

After experiencing a steep decline in 2008, Contemporary Asian Art is back on the rise. Though its recovery is not as strong as in other sectors, there are indications that demand is broadening beyond a relatively small coterie of American and European collectors and some speculators to a larger base of Asian buyers. Classical & Modern Chinese paintings grew the most spectacularly of all sectors in 2010, with the buying almost exclusively driven by Chinese and other Asian collectors.


artmarketanalysis – S2011-Graph 4

S2011-Graph 5

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