3. What specific indicators would suggest a price bubble for Chinese art, and is this “bubble” a general feature across all art sectors in China, or specific to contemporary art since the 1990s, for example?
The characteristics of an art price bubble are an unjustifiable sudden and rapid increase in the prices being paid for works of art combined with an increase in the number of works of art being sold on either a market-wide scale or within a particular sector of the art market. Given The rapid rate at which the unprecedented yet unjustifiable rise in prices for Chinese art is progressing, combined with the large increase in the sheer volume of works of art by Chinese artists being sold at auction, I think that there can be no doubt that this is what is currently happening and that all indications point to a price bubble for Chinese art.
Without doubt the price bubble for Chinese art extends across all categories of Chinese art from 14th century Chinese scroll paintings to works by emerging Chinese contemporary artists. The bubble is, however, most evident in the contemporary and modern sectors.
4. There’s evidence to show that gallerists and artists in China pay for positive critical reviews. But Chinese contemporary artists generally lack the level of critical attention given by critics, historians and galleries in comparison to Western artists. Is the lack of criticality a major contributor to the volatility of the contemporary market? What other factors are there?
The lack of critical review is one of the main problems that the Chinese contemporary art market is facing. Without adequate critical review, buyers do not have the information that they need to make justifiable and discerning decisions when buying works of art. Another factor that causes contemporary art price volatility is the rate at which the careers of young emerging artists are progressing. Once finishing art school, young artists usually go through a process of development and progression that includes several crucial steps. One of those crucial steps is exposure to critical review; another step is establishing a primary market through private gallery representation.
Without the private gallery step in the process of natural progression, young artists end up being thrust into the limelight ill-prepared and without having been through that crucial process of critical review that the private gallery system is a major part of. It is that private gallery system that would usually separate the true stars from the posers and direct the marketplace towards the true stars. Artists whose work is taken directly from the art school to the auction house are essentially being thrust into a position of authority and responsibility without the proper credentials.
The long term value of an artist’s work depends on the level of support and patronage that they receive from the cultural and private gallery sectors. It is pretty much inevitable that the super-heated Chinese