Chinese millennials who use their parents' money to purchase art worth millions have propelled China into the spotlight as more and more commercial galleries turn to the Asian giant to boost sales, a report published by the European Fine Art Fair said Friday.
The reasons behind a growing interest in art amongst young Chinese collectors are manifold, Kejia Wu the author of the TEFAF report told EFE, but perhaps amongst the most important are the fact that many young Chinese people have studied abroad, visited art galleries in different countries and a growing trend within China to appreciate art.
"If some of their friends begun to collect art, they may think that 'ok, I can get something that it is not that expensive'." Kejia Wu told EFE. "Once they have the financial resources, they can become art collectors," she added.
When you compare this new generation of Chinese young people, born after 1990, to previous ones, there are some interesting differences: many can speak English, they are active on social media, they visit international art fairs, they frequent large galleries around the world and they also collect contemporary Western art.
Most Chinese collectors are self-taught and learn to quickly learn the ropes of the commercial art market, both on an international level and at home.
Another key trait these budding collectors have is that they are seemingly unfazed by macroeconomic uncertainty which often worries other experts.
In times of uncertainty, Chinese investors continue to spend, sometimes even increasing their rhythm because they see art as "a valuable way to allocate their assets in a country with substantial capital controls," Wu, an expert who has traveled from New York to present her report on the wider presence of international galleries in the Chinese art market, added.
The way Chinese art investors behave in response to macroeconomic indicators is the main conclusion the report draws to make sense of the Chinese art market which in the last four decades has undergone dramatic expansion positioning it second, behind the United States, as one of the largest in the world.
This year's edition of the European Fine Art Fair in the Dutch city of Maastricht, which will open its doors to the public on Mar. 16 and will run until Mar. 24, has a large selection of Chinese art on offer including spectacular large canvasses, artworks made of bone china and porcelain, sculptures, bronze objects and above all many jewels.
The Chinese artifacts range from anything between 300,000 to 3 million euros ($339,456 – $3.4 million).
Chinese art galleries began to proliferate in 1980s while auction houses did so in the early 1990s.
The Poly Auction house, created in 2005, and China Guardian, founded in 1993, are the third and fourth largest auction houses in the world respectively, after Christie's (1766) and Sotheby's (1804).
The first non-commercial, private museum was launched in 1912 and the first art trade fair (which included ceramics and furniture) was held in 1933.
Nowadays China boasts over 20 high profile international art fairs, nearly 1,500 museums, and over 4,000 art galleries.
Contemporary trade fairs offer primarily classical paintings (66 percent), ceramics and furniture account for 21 percent although Wu said that there is an active group that invests in contemporary art and western art.
Auctions are the preferred port of call for collectors keen to sell works and it has been these collectors who have established trends in art in the Asian country and shaped preferences whilst feeding and growing the size of the Chinese art market.
The report, however, did warn that the prevalent classical Chinese artworks, which in the short term would continue to dominate the national market, did not appeal to the new breed of millennial collectors who were drawn to contemporary Western artworks sold by the so-called blue-chip galleries and international art fairs such as the
By Imane Rachidi