NEW YORK—The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, has acquired nine photographs by Chinese artists Wang Qingsong (b. 1966) and Hai Bo (b. 1962) from AW Asia, New York. The purchase was completed late last month after 18 months of negotiations between AW Asia founder Larry Warsh and Getty acting senior curator of photographs Judith Keller.
The acquisition is made up of three color photographs by Wang and six black-and-white and color photographs by Hai, the first such works to be purchased by the museum. Warsh said that the Getty paid between $100,000 and $200,000 for the photos, which he told ARTnewsletter he had bought on trips to China in 2003 and 2004 for about $2,000/4,000 each. A Getty spokesperson declined to comment on the price.
Hai, whose work often juxtaposes enlarged photographs from the Cultural Revolution era with contemporary re-creations using the same subjects, was a featured artist in the 2001 Venice Biennale. Wang’s photographs of staged tableaux comment on the impact of industrialization and globalization in China. His works have been exhibited around the world, and are in the Brooklyn Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
In the past three years, contemporary Asian art has become a collecting focus of the Getty, according to Keller, who told ARTnewsletter that museum director Michael Brand “has made it clear that he is interested in collecting contemporary art of Asia.” During the past three years, she said, the museum’s photography department has acquired about 90 20th-century works by 11 Japanese artists and another 25 by two Korean photographers. “We’re playing catch-up now,” she said. The Getty’s entire photography collection consists of more than 100,000 works.
Founded in 2007, AW Asia also publishes books on contemporary Chinese art, provides educational programs and curates exhibitions for institutions.