Move Over Picasso, Zhang Daqian Rises as China Confirms Position as Top Art Market

Zhang Daqian via Wikipedia
Zhang Daqian via Wikipedia

In a story with a dateline of Paris, a city in a country knocked out of the top art markets several years ago, the China Post reports that the late artist Zhang Daqian 张大千 was the best-selling artist at auction in 2011. The information was provided to the paper by Artprice. Spanish great Pablo Picasso dropped out of the top three.

The news continues a trend stretching back several years. In March, 2010, Artprice reported China became the world leader in terms of fine art auction revenue. It took three years to jump from third place (previously occupied by France) in 2007 to first place in 2010, ahead of the UK and the USA.

In 2010, China accounted for 33 percent of global Fine Art sales (paintings, installations, sculptures, drawings, photography, prints), versus 30 percent in the USA, 19 percent in the UK and 5 percent in France. 

Moreover, there were 4 Chinese artists in the Top-10 ranking of global artists by auction revenue for 2010 (vs. 1 in 2009), the lowest of whom generated $112 million dollars during the year. Qi Baishi was in 2nd place in 2010, ahead of Zhang Daqian.

In 2011, Zhang’s compatriot Qi Bashi was the second top seller and six Chinese artists were in the top ten. China Post reports that in 2011 Chinese art accounts for 40 percent of sales by

Zhang, who died in 1983, also had the best annual haul of any artist ever with 1,371 pieces going for a total of $554.53 million U.S. dollars.

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