NEW YORK—Christie’s fall sales of Asian contemporary art and Chinese 20th-century art in Hong Kong on Nov. 29–30 totaled HK$389.3 million ($50.2 million), a 48 percent increase over last fall’s total of HK$262.2 million ($33.8 million).
Noting that six Chinese, three Korean and one Japanese artist were featured in the day sale, Eric Chang, head of Asian contemporary and 20th-century Chinese art, said the result “highlighted continued demand and global interest,” as well as “active cross-buying from international collectors.” However, the focus this year appeared to be on modern works, a shift from the astronomical prices for contemporary Asian paintings in recent years.
The evening sale of Asian contemporary and 20th-century Chinese art on Nov. 29 was 80 percent sold by lot and 93 percent sold by value, and brought a total of HK$261.9 million ($33.8 million), compared with the HK$140.6 million ($18.14 million) of last fall’s evening sale. A record was set for a work by Chu Teh-Chun (b. 1920) when the painting Vertige Neigeux, 1990–99, sold to an Asian buyer for HK$45.5 million ($5.9 million), more than double the unpublished estimate of HK$20 million.
Potted Flowers in a Blue and White Jardinière, ca. 1950s, by Sanyu (1901–66) nearly tripled the HK$8 million/12 million estimate, selling for HK$34.8 million ($4.5 million). Four of the top ten lots were works by Zao Wou-Ki, each of them selling for more than $1 million.
In the Asian-contemporary day sale, which was 69 percent sold by lot and 85 percent sold by value, the total was HK$54.5 million ($7 million). Three auction records were set: The top lot, Pure Land, 1998, a bronze sculpture by Taiwanese artist Li Chen (b. 1963) sold for HK$2.9 million ($374,100), far above the HK$300,000/600,000 estimate; Study for Mask Series 1998 by Zeng Fanzhi (b. 1964) sold for HK$1.7 million ($219,300), a record for a work on paper by the artist (estimate: HK$1 million/1.5 million); and Humans Own EVO5-01, 2008, a mixed-media sculpture by Japanese artist Showichi Kaneda (b. 1970) was sold for HK$1.22 million ($157,380) against an estimate of HK$1.2 million/1.8 million.
The top ten lots in the sale of Southeast Asian modern and contemporary art featured work by artists from Belgium, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam. The auction was 78 percent sold by lot and 95 percent sold by value, bringing a total of HK$33.5 million ($4.3 million), compared with HK$28.5 million ($3.7 million) last year.
Master Yoga, 2009, by I. Nyoman Masriadi (b. 1973) fetched HK$3.6 million ($466,980) against an estimate of HK$650,000/1 million. Close behind was Doves, 1935, by Chinese-Indonesian artist Lee Man Fong (1913–88), which sold for HK$3.26 million ($420,540) against an estimate of HK$400,000/550,000. The artist’s Man with Horses, 1948, sold for HK$2.9 million ($374,100), soaring high above the HK$280,000/350,000 estimate. Ruoh-Ling Keong, Christie’s head of Southeast Asian modern and contemporary art, said the 64 percent increase in the sale total from that of last spring’s sale represented a “resounding vote of confidence for the category’s modern masters and the rebound of the contemporary-art market.”
In the Chinese modern paintings sale, which was 84 percent sold by lot and 90 percent sold by value, the total was HK$208 million ($26.84 million), compared with HK$71 million ($9.2 million) last year. Landscape Inspired by Dufu’s Poetic Sentiments, 1944, a scroll by Fu Baoshi (1904–65) sold for HK$60 million ($7.78 million) on an unpublished estimate of more than HK$35 million. Appreciating Antiques, 1933, a scroll by Qi Baishi (1863–1957), sold for HK$5.4 million ($702,500) on an estimate of HK$2 million/3 million.