As global auction giant Christie’s solidifies its mainland China presence in order to reach a vitally important and growing Chinese collector base, the auction house is set to mark the grand opening of its new Shanghai headquarters with a special year of the horse exhibition.
Entitled “The Art of the Horse,” the cross-departmental exhibit taking place in Shanghai from October 21-30 and Hong Kong from November 21-25 will feature more than 50 works demonstrating the role of the horse across history and cultures. The eclectic group of pieces on display will include paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures, and jewelry by an European and American artists including Edgar Degas, Alfred Munnings, and Andy Warhol, as well as Chinese masters such as Xu Beihong and Ma Jin.
The date of the Shanghai exhibit coincides with the grand opening of Christie’s new Shanghai headquarters at the Ampire Building. As the first international auction house ever awarded the right by the Chinese government to operate on the mainland independent of a joint partner, Christie’s has been strengthening its presence since its inaugural mainland auction in September 2013.
“Physically majestic and culturally symbolic, the horse is revered both in Asia and the West,” said Christie’s Chairman of Asian art and exhibition co-curator Jonathan Stone. “In light of this, the exhibition is especially timed to coincide with the opening of Christie’s magnificent new home in Shanghai and with the Hong Kong Autumn sales.”
China’s growing contingent of newly rich is invaluable to global auction houses like Christie’s as well as Sotheby’s, which held its first Beijing auction in December last year. Christie’s Asia sales grew by 44 percent in 2013 thanks in large part to Chinese buyers. As the rising ranks of China’s rich are becoming increasingly interested in art as an investment opportunity, their interest in Chinese art in particular has caused many Chinese contemporary pieces to set auction records over the past year.
With “Art of the Horse,” Christie’s joins many global luxury companies that have done something special for this year’s zodiac animal in order to reach their Chinese customers, including Hermès, BMW, and Chopard.