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Chinese art from the Guizhou province in southwest China is on display at San Ildefonso museum in Mexico City. Artists hope that this exhibit, entitled “Masterpieces,” will help bridge the cultural gap between China and Mexico. The works are from the National Art Museum of China (NAMOC) and feature more than 151 folk art pieces, including masks, sculptures and paintings. This exhibition will run through February 19th, 2017.

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Wednesday, 01 July 2015 01:54

China's Great Wall is Disappearing

Around 30 percent of China's Ming-era Great Wall has disappeared over time as adverse natural conditions and reckless human activities -- including stealing the bricks to build houses -- erode the UNESCO World Heritage site, state media reported.

The Great Wall is not a single unbroken structure but stretches for thousands of kilometres in sections, from Shanhaiguan on the east coast to Jiayuguan in the windswept sands on the edge of the Gobi desert.

In places it is so dilapidated that estimates of its total length vary from 9,000 to 21,000 kilometres (5,600 to 13,000 miles), depending on whether missing sections are included. Despite its length it is not, as is sometimes claimed, visible from space.

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If you are a fan of “Downton Abbey,” you won’t want to miss “Houghton Hall: Portrait of an English Country House” at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor before it closes Jan. 18.

Built in Norfolk in the 1720s for England’s first prime minister, Sir Robert Walpole, Houghton Hall features grand rooms designed by architect William Kent to house Walpole’s Old Master paintings, elegant furniture (some designed by Kent to go with the rooms), elaborate tapestries and Roman antiquities. Many of these rooms are recreated at the Legion as settings for luxurious furniture, silver and china, and paintings by English artists Thomas Gainsborough and William Hogarth.

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Two pairs of 3,300-year-old trousers found in China's far western Xinjiang region may be the world's oldest, according to state media.

Archeologists in May found animal-fur menswear on the bodies of two mummies, identified as male shamans in their 40s, the state-run China Daily cited scientists as saying.

An international team is working together to repair and preserve the two pairs, which are the oldest yet discovered with a clear resemblance to modern trousers, the report said.

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On Sunday, December 1, Sotheby’s wrapped up Beijing Art Week, a series of sales that marked the company’s first commercial auction in mainland China. The auction house offered $212 million worth of western and Chinese art, jewelry and furniture in three private sales and an auction.

During the Modern and Contemporary Chinese Art auction on Sunday night, a record was set for Chinese-French artist Zao Wou-Ki. the artist’s 1958 oil-on-canvas abstract work, which was sold by the Art Institute of Chicago, brought $14.7 million. Wou-Ki’s previous record was set on October 5 during a sale at Sotheby’s Hong Kong when a work sold for $11 million.

China is home to the fastest growing art market and the success of the Beijing sales indicates that there are active buyers on the mainland.

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Thursday, 26 September 2013 18:50

Christie’s Holds First Auction in Mainland China

Christie’s held its first auction in Mainland China on Thursday, September 26, 2013. The sale included 39 paintings, sculpture, jewelry, watches and wine and garnered $24.9 million. A ruby and diamond necklace, which sold for $2.9 million was the top lot but failed to reach its high estimate of $4.6 million.

The modest sale marked the first time that an international auction house has been allowed to independently hold an auction in China. Christie’s received its license to conduct auctions in China in April and agreed not to sell any “cultural relics” dated before 1949 when the Communist Party took power.

China’s art market continues to grow at a rapid pace, making it an ideal location for international auction houses. The sale of art and antiques in China garnered $13.7 billion in 2012, making it the second largest market in the world behind the United States. The country’s strong buyer base has been active in Christie’s global auction centers in New York, London, Hong Kong, and Paris. In fact, the number of clients from Mainland China bidding at Christie’s international auctions has doubled since 2008. Christie’s presence in Shanghai will allow the auction house to sell directly to China’s growing number of wealthy buyers.  

China’s auction market is currently dominated by the country’s own Beijing Poly International and China Guardian. Sotheby’s joined forces with the state-owned Beijing GeHua Cultural Development Group last year to hold auctions in China. Sotheby’s own 80% of its venture with Beijing Gehua.

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The European Fine Art Foundation, organizers of the venerable European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF), which is held annually in Maastricht, Netherlands, have been discussing launching a new art fair in China with the help of Sotheby’s. While it may seem like an unusual pairing, TEFAF and Sotheby’s are looking to join forces in order to tap into China’s thriving art and antiques market, which raised $13.7 billion in 2012.

Last year, Sotheby’s entered into a ten-year joint venture with China’s state-owned media corporation, Beijing GeHua Cultural Development Group. The collaboration will allow Sotheby’s to utilize the free port that GeHua is developing with the Tianzhu Free Trade Zone in Beijing. The port will serve as a tax-advantaged storage location, which is ideal for foreigners looking to buy high-priced artworks overseas. Sotheby’s is the first international auction house to establish itself in Mainland China.

If TEFAF and Sotheby’s decide to move forward with the fair, TEFAF Beijing will launch in 2014. TEFAF Maastricht, the world’s biggest art and antiques fair, is currently taking place in the Netherlands and will wrap up on Sunday, March 24, 2013.    

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Thursday, 14 March 2013 14:30

U.S. Regains Top Art Market Standing

China’s art market experienced a substantial boom in 2011, bumping the United States out of its top spot and ultimately becoming the world’s principal market for art and antiques. In 2012, amid the uncertain global economy, China’s growth began to slow and its art and antiques market shrank by almost a quarter. This deceleration allowed the U.S. to regain its title as the world’s most significant art market.

The power shift was announced as part of the highly anticipated TEFAF Art Market Report compiled by Dr. Clare McAndrew. McAndrew, a cultural economist who specializes in the fine and decorative art market, is the founder of Arts Economics, a company commissioned by The European Fine Art Foundation to provide a yearly analysis of the worldwide art market. The report coincides with the beginning of TEFAF Maastricht, the Foundation’s annual art fair, which begins March 15, 2013 in the Netherlands and runs through March 24, 2013.

Slowing economic growth and a lack of high quality, high priced items on the market are to blame for China’s slip to the second most influential art market. While auction sales dropped by 30% in China, U.S. sale figures were up 5% to $18.4 billion. In 2012, buyers opted to minimize financial risk by buying works by well-known artists at the top end of the market with Post-War and Contemporary art performing the strongest.

Dr. McAndrew will present her findings at the TEFAF Art Symposium on Friday, March 15, 2013 in Maastricht.

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Monday, 07 January 2013 13:15

Andy Warhol Named Top Artist at Auction

American pop artist Andy Warhol (1928-1987) brought $380.3 million in sales in 2012, exceeding Chinese ink painter Zhang Daqian (1899-1983) as the world’s highest seller at auction. Warhol also surpassed modern master Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) and Gerhard Richter (b. 1932), who holds the record for top living artist at auction.

Warhol’s all-time sales reached $2.9 billion while Picasso, who is regarded as the world’s costliest artist at auction, hit $5 billion. Picasso’s total auction sales for 2012 were down to $334.7 million from $366 million. Officials blame lack of supply for the dip in Picasso sales; while works by Picasso remain in demand, there are currently fewer exceptional pieces on the market. Daqian took an even harder hit than Picasso, slipping from $782.4 million at auction to $241.6, most likely the result of the economic and political uncertainty that pervaded China in 2012, which affected the international demand for Chinese art.

The restructuring that occurred last year knocked Daqian from first to fourth place in terms of selling power, a reflection of the increased demand for western postwar and contemporary works in the art market. A testament to contemporary art’s dominance, auctions in that category raising a record $1.1 billion in November 2012 through sales at Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Phillips de Pury & Co.

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The traveling exhibition, Andy Warhol: 15 Minutes Eternal, marks the 25th anniversary of Andy Warhol’s (1928-1987) death. The tribute to the pioneering pop artist features over 300 works including paintings, photographs, screen-prints, sculptures, and films and presents Warhol’s famous Campbell’s soup cans as well as his iconic portraits of Jackie Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, and Mao Zedong.

15 Minutes Eternal, the largest traveling exhibition of Warhol’s work to date, has already been on display in Singapore and is currently on view at the Hong Kong Museum of Art through March 31, 2013. However, a few changes will have to be made before the works appear in Beijing next year as China’s Ministry of Culture has requested that the 10 Mao paintings be left out of the Beijing leg of the tour. Created in 1972 after Richard Nixon made his historic visit to China, the Mao portraits were made by applying acrylic and silkscreen-ink to canvas and went on to become some of Warhol’s best-known works.

The 26-month Asian tour has already been a success with 175,000 people visiting the exhibition in Singapore. Officials hope that the absence of the Mao paintings will not affect attendance in Beijing. The last stop on the tour is Tokyo, where the exhibition will be on view from February 1, 2014 to May 6, 2014.

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