Editorial by WAN Jie: founder and President of Artron Art Group; founder of AMMA (Art Market Monitor of Artron)

In March 2018, AMMA joined forces with Artprice and released the “2017 Report on the Art Market”. The report calls 2017 “a year full of surprises” for China’s Art Market.

In 2017, the global economy was still in a period of transition, and people’s growing demand for spiritual culture was favorable to the global art auction market. The total auction value for Fine Art around the world amounted to $14.9 billion (including buyer’s premiums) in 2017, which marks an increase of +19.78%. In China alone, a total of 280,080 Fine Art pieces were put up for auction, with the total auction amount being $5.1 billion which is also an increase of +5.44%. These figures show that China’s Fine Art market remains profoundly important across the globe.

Results from this year’s auction show a return to the roots for China’s collectors. All across the board we are seeing fine art and other antiques befitting China’s traditional aesthetics being auctioned to the market. Bids were particular active for items in the middle or high-end price ranges, which offers another boost of confidence for Chinese collectors. Some of the notable bids include Qi Baishi’s Twelve Landscape Screens reached a record high of $141 million, or Zao Wou-Ki’s 29.01.64 which fetched $25.09 million. All of these record high bids further attest a return to acknowledging the nation’s traditional cultural aesthetics for China’s collectors.

As China’s auction houses adjust to new trends and activities, the first and secondary markets see a further divide. The auction market is more geared towards trading artifacts and Fine Art that are classified as “cream of the crop”; immense weeding of the items to seek only the finest works of art means that fewer average quality items circulate in the auction market. Contemporary artistic goods whose creators have yet to mature have also left the second market, where only top-notched items reign. We believe that in the future we will see less interference from auction houses in the first market; we expect to see less competition for profit between auction houses and galleries. This shall contribute to a healthier, more structured art auction market.

Much like the rest of the world, China’s Art Market grows and develops upon jumping one hurdle after another. Art as a commodity is a concept that is now increasingly acknowledged in the wider public. To live a more artistic life or weaving in elements of art into daily living is becoming more widespread than ever. Increasing attendance at art exhibits, larger exhibitions and popularity with products geared towards art education all show the general public’s enthusiasm and desire to collect artistic goods. In particular, elites from the finance, real estate and IT industries are starting to build collections of their own. This particular consumer group is expected to increase in size and may well become the leaders in dictating the aesthetic trends in China’s Art Market.

2018 marks the 25th anniversary of Artron Art Group. As a company with a strong sense of social responsibility, we will continue to provide a range of professional services to artists and art institutions. We will also apply “blockchain” technology to the database of the record of authentication of contemporary artworks “ICP filing” to Improve the activity of the art market and promote its healthy development. Together with Artprice, we look forward to head towards a brighter future, offering the most in-depth arts service which are in tune with the latest trends. Together we aim to make art an indispensable spiritual commodity of contemporary society.