Art’s New Superpower- Annelysse Eggold



Annelysse Eggold

Extra Credit


The names Zhang Xiaogang, Liu Xiaodong and Zhang Huan no longer are unknown in the global community of Contemporary Art.  Their individual histories are profound and indicative of the depth of their art.  Zhang Xiaogang lost his parents to a Cultural Revolution “Study camp” and after being raised by an aunt for several years, Zhang was also sent to a re-education camp from which he emerged with soul-changing experiences only to have his paintings deemed unfit for public display in 1990. In 1997 Beijing galleries began to show his paintings. Largely comprised of haunting portraits of hollow-faced Chinese citizens as if emerging from concentration camps, Chapter of a New Century: Birth of the People’s Republic of  Zhang is now one of China’s premier contemporary artists, and sold his Chapter of a New Century for over $3million in 2006.


This nation of >1.3 billion people is “waking up from a stupor of isolation” and is experiencing an art boom equivalent to the boom in real estate.  Artist Liu Xiaodong, in his Newly Displaced Population, a canvas, presents a critical view of the Chinese government’s displacement of more than one million people in order to build the Three Gorges Dam.  His painting sold for 42.75 million.  Collectors include Zhang Land, a female restaurateur, Pearl Lam, a Hong Kong real estate heiress and Eli Sag, Swiss ambassador to china from 1995 to 1998 when most Chinese works sold for a few hundred dollars.  In March 2006, Sotheby’s sold Chinese art totaling $12.7 million and in 2007, Christie’s saw $36 million and Sotheby’s $27 million in sales of Asian contemporary art.


It is an “extraordinary scene” according to Arne Glimcher, an art collector who just returned from a tour of China during which time he signed Zhang Xiaogang and Zhang Huan to Pace Wildenstein, his New York gallery.  In Shanghai, Zhang Huan has a huge gallery employing >100 craftsmen with hundreds of canvasses being processed simultaneously…a veritable Ford Motor assembly line of Contemporary Art.  Now that contemporary Chinese art is flourishing unimpeded by the government, there is little of the explosively anti-establishment art and the younger Chinese artists are intent on making fortunes off the Chinese art boom.

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