December 12, 2011

Cautious Optimism at Chinese Art Auctions - by Nicholas Forrest

Although the latest round of auctions of Chinese artsuggest that the rate of growth of the Chinese art market appears to have slowed somewhat, the results are far from disappointing.  In fact, the sheer volume of works being sold combined with the prices being paid for many of the most desirable works appearing at auction in China is difficult to fathom.  While most of what we know about the market for Chinese art comes from Western sources, the true state of the Chinese art market can really only be determined by looking beyond the results of Western auction houses such as Christie’s and Sotheby’s, to the results of Chinese auction houses such as China Guardian auctions and Beijing Poly International auctions.
When delving into the depths of the epic auctions held by China Guardian and Beijing Poly International it becomes apparent that the Chinese art market is very much still dominated by works produced using traditional techniques and displaying a classical aesthetic.  Traditional style ink on paper paintings clearly influenced by Chinese calligraphy occupy so many of the top prices paid atauction in China that one could be forgiven for thinking that Chinese buyers aren’t buying anything else.  Although the 2011 Autumn auctions held by China Guardian and Beijing Poly yielded some truly remarkable results that seem to create a positive picture of the Chinese art market, the market’s reliance on such a narrow niche is cause for concern.
The highlight of the 2011 Chinese Autumn auction season was the sale of Xu Beihong’s ‘Cultivation on the Peaceful Land’ which was sold by Beijing Poly International for a record RMB 266,800,000(42,108,586.09 USD).  Coming in a close second was Fu Baoshi’s masterpiece ‘Chairman Mao’s poetry octavo volumes’ as sold by Beijing Hanhai auctions for an artist auction record of  RMB 200,000,000 million (31,565,656.74 USD). Shengjia auction sold “Chairman Mao’s poetry octavo volumes” in 2003 for 19,800,000 – a record at the time for Baoshi’s work.   The third highest price went to an album of landscape paintings by the master Qi Baishi which fetched RMB 194,000,000 (30,618,687.03 USD) at China Guardian’s “Grand View: Chinese Paintings Highlight” held on the 13th of November.  Previously sold by China Guardian for RMB 5.17 million in 1994, Baishi’s landscape album is an good example of how rapidly the market for Chinese art has developed. Also breaking the RMB 100 million mark was Wang Hui’s “Chinese poetic figure” which was also sold by China Guardian for RMB 126,500,000 (19,965,277.89 USD).
One of the most notable diversions from the traditional ink on paper paintings was the sale of San Yu’s CHRYSANTHEMUM oil on board for RMB 34,500,000 ( 5,445,075.78 USD).  The Chinese born, Paris trained artist’s CHRYSANTHEMUM resembles the work of European abstractionists more than the work of any traditional Chinese artist, but still exhibits elements reminiscent of the traditional Chinese aesthetic.  The auction record for a work by Yu is USD 14,726,564.
1. ‘Chairman Mao’s poetry octavo volumes’ by Fu Baoshi
2. ‘Cultivation on the Peaceful Land’ by Xu Beihong
**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of, writes the art column for the magazine Antiquesand Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications. LINK

Battles - Ice Cream

December 10, 2011

December 3, 2011

The erosion in the paid media pyramid - Seth Godin -Learn how to sell

Starting from the bottom:
Free content is delivered to anyone who is willing to consume it, usually as a way of engaging attention and leading to sales of content down the road. This is the movie trailer, the guest on Oprah, the free chapter, the tweets highlighting big ideas.
Mass content is the inevitable result of a medium where the cost of making copies is inexpensive. So you get books for $20, movie tickets for $8 and newspapers for pocket change. Mass content has been the engine of popular culture for a century.
Limited content is something rare, and thus more expensive. It's the ticket that everyone can't possibly buy. This is a seat in a Broadway theater, attendance at a small seminar or a signed lithograph.
And finally, there's bespoke content. This is the truly expensive, truly limited performance. A unique painting, or hiring a singer to appear at an event.
Three things just happened:
A. Almost anyone can now publish almost anything. You can publish a book with out a publisher, record a song without a label, host a seminar without a seminar company, sell your art without a gallery. This leads to an explosion of choice. (Or from the point of view of the media producer, an explosion of clutter and competition).
B. Because of A, attention is worth more than ever before. The single gating factor for almost all success in media is, "do people know enough about it to choose to buy something?"
C. The marginal cost of one more copy in the digital world is precisely zero. One more viewer on YouTube, one more listener to your MP3, one more blog reader--they cost the producer nothing to produce or deliver.
As a result of these three factors, there's a huge sucking sound, and that's the erosion of mass as part of the media model. Fewer people buying movie tickets and hardcover books, more people engaging in free media.
Overlooked in all the handwringing is a rise in the willingness of some consumers (true fans) to move up the pyramid and engage in limited works. Is this enough to replace the money that's not being spent on mass? Of course not. But no one said it was fair.
By head count, just about everyone who works in the media industry is in the business of formalizing, reproducing, distributing, marketing and selling copies of the original creative work to the masses. The creators aren't going to go away--they have no choice but to create. The infrastructure around monetizing work that used to have a marginal cost but no longer does is in for a radical shift, though.
Media projects of the future will be cheaper to build, faster to market, less staffed with expensive marketers and more focused on creating free media that earns enough attention to pay for itself with limited patronage.
>>> Seth Godin´s Blog LINK
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