Christie’s Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art Auction In Hong Kong: Top Lots To Watch

Growing Scarcity Of Zhang Xiaogang Family Figures To Boost Pricing

Cai Guo-Qiang, Project for the Year of the Dragon No. 2 (Estimate HK$2,000,000 - HK$4,000,000 (US$258,718 - $517,435))

Following on the heels of the successful Sotheby’s Spring Auction series in Hong Kong, during which blue-chip Chinese contemporary art pushed totals for that segment to HK$211 million (US$27.2 million) — the second highest total for a various-owner sale of contemporary Asian art — Christie’s Hong Kong will hold its Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art auction on May 26, packed with increasingly scarce pieces by leading Chinese artists. As with the Sotheby’s sale, we can expect that the Chinese collector preference for rare and historical works by the most established contemporary artists from China will be on full display later this month. At Sotheby’s, Zhang Xiaogang’s “Bloodline – Big Family: Family No. 2″ sold for twice its estimate at HK$52.18 million(US$6.69 million), and with two “Bloodline” pieces to go under the hammer at Christie’s, collectors will likely be prepared for fierce bidding.

In addition to Zhang’s increasingly hard-to-find “Bloodline” paintings, the Christie’s auction includes several works by artists highly popular with China’s newer art collectors, including Zeng Fanzhi (three lots), Fang Lijun (two lots) and Cai Guo-Qiang (one lot). Under the backdrop of slower economic growth in China and greater uncertainty in the country’s property and stock markets, Chinese collectors will continue to look for works by artists whose value has maintained stable growth since 2009. As such, don’t expect to see a great deal of frenzy surrounding works by the likes of Yoshitomo Nara or Lee Man Fong — Chinese bidders will likely home in on Zhang and top modernist painters like Zao Wou-Ki and Sanyu.

As Jing Daily noted earlier this month, in the wake of recent record-breaking sales of works like Munch’s “The Scream” (US$120 million) and Cézanne’s “The Card Players” (over $250 million), the limits of art pricing are shifting upward globally, and the same is happening for the best, most scarce pieces by Chinese artists. As top Western contemporary artists like Warhol, Rothko, Still, Lichtenstein, Bacon and Basquiat all sit firmly in the US$5-50 million range at auction, as time goes by we should see auction prices for multi-million-dollar living contemporary Chinese artists like Zhang Xiaogang (whose works broke the $10 million mark in 2011), Zeng Fanzhi (who reached $9.7 million in 2008), and others continue to climb in tandem with the broader global auction market and gradually close the gap with their Western counterparts.

With that in mind, here are Jing Daily’s top lots to watch at Christie’s Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art Auction in Hong Kong on May 26:

Zhang Xiaogang – “Bloodline: Big Family” (1999)
Lot: 2035
Oil on canvas
Size: 150 x 190 cm. (59 x 74 7/8 in.)
Estimate: HK$12 million-18 million (US$1.55 million-2.3 million)

Zhang Xiaogang

Zeng Fanzhi – “Fly” (2000)
Lot: 2030
Oil on canvas
Size: 200 x 179.4 cm. (78 3/4 x 70 5/8 in.)
Estimate: HK$20 million-25 million (US$2.59 million-3.23 million)

Zeng Fanzhi

Zhang Huan – “Family Tree” (edition 15/25) (2000)
Lot: 2032
Set of nine chromogenic prints
Size: each image 60.8 x 50.6 cm. (24 x 19 7/8 in.)
Estimate: HK$600,000 – HK$800,000 (US$77,615 – $103,487)

Zhang Huan

Zhang Xiaogang – “Bloodline: Big Family – Father and Daughter” (2000)
Lot: 2034
Oil on canvas
Size: 100 x 80 cm. (39 1/4 x 31 1/2 in.)
Estimate: HK$6 million-8 million (US$$776,153 – $1.03 million)

Zhang Xiaogang

Yang Shaobin – “Zhen Bao Dao Heroes” (1993)
Lot: 2037
Oil on canvas
Size: 180 x 200 cm. (70 7/8 x 78 3/4 in.)
Estimate: HK$1.5 million-HK$2 million (US$194,038 – $258,718)

Yang Shaobin

Fang Lijun – “1994 No. 8” (1994)
Lot: 2040
Oil on canvas
Size: 180 x 251 cm. (70 7/8 x 98 7/8 in.)
Estimate: HK$4 million-6 million (US$517,435 – $776,153)

Fang Lijun

Li Songsong – “Red Flag” (2009)
Lot: 2045
Oil on canvas, diptych
Size: overall: 320 x 280 cm. (126 x 110 1/4 in.)
Estimate: HK$3.5 million-5.5 million (US$452,756 – $711,473)

Li Songsong

Wang Guangyi – “Great Criticism – Materialist’s Art” (2006)
Lot: 2046
Oil on canvas, diptych
Size: overall: 300 x 400 cm. (118 x 157 1/2 in.)
Estimate: HK$2 million-3 million (US$258,718 – $388,076)

Wang Guangyi

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