Important Works By Zhang Xiaogang Up For Auction At Christie’s Hong Kong

Works From Artist’s Trademark “Bloodline” Series Becoming Scarcer

Confidence in Zhang Xiaogang among Chinese collectors is reaching new highs

Confidence in Zhang Xiaogang among Chinese collectors is reaching new highs

Fans of the blue-chip Chinese contemporary artist Zhang Xiaogang (张晓刚) will have their shot to bid on some of the artist’s best works this weekend at Christie’s Hong Kong. Parts of the auction house’s packed weekend schedule, the Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art and “Faces of New China: An Important Private Collection” evening sales on November 26 include several works by China’s best-known and most widely collected contemporary artists. In addition from many of the artists highlighted by Jing Daily earlier this week in our “Top Lots to Watch” feature, this weekend’s evening sales include historical works by the likes of Zhang Xiaogang, Cai Guo-Qiang, Liu Ye and Wang Qingsong.

As in other recent auction series in Hong Kong, such as the Sotheby’s autumn auction sales, look for new Chinese collectors and existing collectors to target the best works by artists known both in China and internationally. In the case of Zhang Xiaogang, the rarity and quality of his lots up for auction this weekend should see sale prices go far beyond high estimates. Earlier this year, Zhang’s early work “Forever Lasting Love” became the first-ever piece of Chinese contemporary art to sell for over US$10 million, raising his visibility considerably among new mainland Chinese collectors. Following that headline-making sale, Zhang’s “Bloodline: Big Family No.1″ sold last month at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong for $8.4 million, the second-highest price for the artist at auction and a record for his trademark “Bloodline Series.”

In the wake of the Sotheby’s autumn auction series in Hong Kong, Lin Jiaru, head of Sotheby’s Asian art, remarked that the high total turnover of Chinese art at recent auctions indicates that top names like Zhang Xiaogang, Zeng Fangzhi, and Liu Ye remain highly sought after by Chinese collectors. Earlier this month, ArtTactic validated Lin’s observations, placing Zhang Xiaogang among the short-term and long-term confidence rankings in its Chinese Contemporary Art Market Confidence Survey. Currently, Zhang’s longevity indicator sits at nearly 80 percent, with the artist’s confidence indicator sitting at around 90 percent. At this weekend’s auctions, it’s not a stretch to think that top historical works by blue-chip artists like Zhang Xiaogang will prove popular with inflation-spooked Chinese collectors. If anything, recent economic news coming out of China may motivate them even further; As the Taiwanese collector Jeffery Yu told the Globe and Mail last month, “Chinese property isn’t doing well, nor are stocks, so they’re still putting money into the best [Chinese] art.”

This weekend, expect these three works by Zhang Xiaogang to go far beyond estimates, as Chinese collectors continue to stock up on portable assets at “inexpensive” prices (vis-à-vis the most famous and widely collected blue-chip Western artists):

"Portrait in Yellow" (1993)

“Portrait in Yellow” (1993)

“Portait in Yellow” (1993)

Included in “Faces of New China: An Important Private Collection” auction
Lot: 1026
Oil on canvas
Size: 108.2 x 89.2 cm. (42 1/2 x 35 1/8 in.)
Estimate: HK$25,000,000 – HK$30,000,000 (US$3,225,673 – $3,870,807)

Chinese collectors have shown a strong attraction to Zhang’s early works. This lot, which predates the $10.1 million “Forever Lasting Love” by five years, could provoke serious bidding this weekend in Hong Kong and possibly go for well over $7 million.

"Bloodline: Big Family, No. 9"

“Bloodline: Big Family, No. 9”

“Bloodline: Big Family, No. 9” (1997)

Included in “Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art” auction
Lot: 1046
Oil on canvas
Size: 149 x 189 cm. (58 5/8 x 74 3/8 in.)
Estimate: HK$15,000,000 – HK$20,000,000 (US$1,935,404 – $2,580,538)

After the US$8.4 million sale of “Bloodline: Big Family No.1” at Sotheby’s, look for collector interest in the best works from Zhang’s “Bloodline” series to remain strong. As a relatively early representative piece from the series, the pre-sale high estimate of $2.6 million looks, to us, quite low.

"Bloodline: Big Family - Brother and Sister"

“Bloodline: Big Family – Brother and Sister”

“Bloodline: Big Family – Brother and Sister” (2005)

Included in “Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art” auction
Lot: 1047
Oil on canvas
Size: 120 x 150 cm. (47 1/8 x 59 in.)
Estimate: HK$6,000,000 – HK$8,000,000 (US$774,161 – $1,032,215)

A representative piece from the “Bloodline” series, the intriguing subject matter (two-child families are rare now in China) and lower starting estimates of “Big Family – Brother and Sister” should make it a target for new collectors who are just starting to bid for blue-chip artists.


Art & Design, Market Analysis