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Chinese art

27th December 2004

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Why are Crazy for Chinese art collectors
It is not only dynastic porcelain vases. Mavens buy contemporary art works and

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, when Jim Eccles worked as IBM (IBM) Systems Engineer, he fell in love with the work of the late Chinese artist Chao Chung Hsiang, was then living in New York. Now 69 and retired, Eccles still loves the seven colorful paintings, some abstract and others in a more traditional Chinese style that he bought for $ 200 to $ 500 each. But he has recently thought about selling them. Based on recent auctions, he figures they can fetch $ 50000 to $ 100000 piece.

With the emergence of free-spending, nouveau riche collectors from mainland China, the Chinese art market is at the beginning of what may be an extended boom. The buyers are snatching everything from 3,000-year-old bronze vessels to avant-garde paintings by Chinese-born artist living in China and abroad. For more than 50 Asian manufacturers, many from China, showed a trend in September 2003, the sale of Chinese rarities in the Doyle auction house in New York, prices were exceeding estimates. Some examples: In this autumn's Hong Kong sales, a 1947 ink scroll by the painter Fu Baoshi, died in 1965, sold for $ 1.1 million, four times as much as Sotheby's (BID) predicted. On November 17, London dealer Giuseppe ESKENAZI, often buys for the European and American collectors, paid a record $ 5.7 million for a 18-inch early Ming Dynasty in a bowl Bonhams & Butter Fields auction in San Francisco.

Art collecting was one of the "bourgeois" activities of the idle speed in the 1960s and 70s during the Cultural Revolution, but it has flourished under recent economic reforms. Dozens of art auction houses have settled in China in recent years the most prominent of which is China Guardian in Beijing.

Experts expect that prices continue to grow as China's wealth grows. "The Chinese do not understand why there is such a big price difference between Western art and the biggest Chinese art," says Henry Howard-Sneyd, Sotheby's Hong Kong-based managing director for China and Southeast Asia. For example, while a Picasso painting sold this spring for $ 104 million, works by Zhang Daqian, who lived from 1899 to 1983 and is known as "China's Picasso", usually top out at about $ 1 million. Chinese collectors figure Zhang's paintings should eventually approach Picasso's level.

Is it too late for smaller collectors to dive? "Oh, God, no," said David Tang, the Hong Kong entrepreneur and art collector, argued that the increase in Chinese art market is only just begun. "

Before you make all purchases, there are a few things you should know. It is important to buy through reputable dealers. Copies and counterfeits are widespread, especially of classical paintings and furniture, and even the experts can be fooled. If you buy within China, in recent works. It is illegal to export paintings and art objects from the year 1949.

One way of approaching the market, says Theow Tow, New York-based vice chairman of Christie's America, is "looking for categories where Chinese mainland have not started buying yet, but probably will." For example, Qing-era (1368-1644) and the Ming period (1644-1911) ceramics have increased, partly because most Asian buyers price later work on the Chinese emperors. But experts say Song Dynasty (960-1269) ceramics remain relative bargains. A small 13rd Century Song dynasty bowl went for $ 2,390 at Christie's in Hong Kong on September 21.

Crouching RABBIT
Works made of stone and pottery from the Han (206 BC-220 AD) and Tang (618-907) periods remain comparatively cheap. For example, ESKENAZI has a small stone Tang-era sculpture of a crouching rabbit for sale at $ 23000th Chinese furniture with imperial connections commands a huge premium: A Qing Dynasty bed of exotic hardwoods went for 847500 U.S. dollars at a Christie's sale in New York in September. But older pieces with soft wood no imperial associations sold for as little as $ 5000th Some small collectors specialize in Chinese snuff bottles, which sell for $ 2000. Check out Christie's snuff bottle sale in March 2005, and the selection of London dealer Robert Hall in www.snuffbottle.com.

You will also find bargains in China is far from the contemporary art. Prices for the best-known artists such as 39-year-old Zhang Huan, have soared to $ 40000 and higher. Zhang, lives in New York, often with his own body as a canvas and sells photos of his work. But promising artists remain affordable. A top selection of Kent Logan, a retired securities executive in Vail, Colo., has 120 works of contemporary Chinese, is 30-year-old Zhao Bo of Chongqing, in South-Central China's Sichuan Province. His jazzy street scenes sell for $ 700 to $ 9000 or so. Julia Colman, co-owner of London's Chinese Contemporary Gallery, the paintings sold Zhao, gladly painter and photographer Zhang Dali, 41, documents, the social burden caused by the Chinese modernization. His pieces start at $ 6,000.

If this art appeals to you, start thumbing through catalogs, visiting galleries, and studying the sites of galleries and important. Dealers with expertise in Chinese art include ESKENAZI Ltd (eskenazi.co.uk) and JJ Lally in New York for classic ceramics and pottery; Kaikodo in New York (kaikodo.com) and Alisan in Hong Kong (alisan.com.hk) for traditional Chinese painting and Contemporary (chinesecontemporary.com) in London, Ethan Cohen Fine Arts in New York (artnet.com / ecohen.html), and the Hanart Gallery in Hong Kong (hanart.com) for avant-garde pieces. If you see something you like, not Dally. As Jim Eccles discovered, prices are rising, while we are talking about.

Corrections and clarifications
In "Why collectors are crazy for Chinese Art" (Where to invest, Dec. 27-Jan. 3), we reversed the data of the Ming and Qing dynasties. Ming (1368-1644) preceded Qing (1644-1911).

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