China is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with in the global art market. In 2011, Zhang Daqian, a Chinese artist (1899-1983), out-earned Picasso as the world auction market’s top earner, Bloomberg reports(via Artprice). It was the second time Picasso was not the top-earning artist in fifteen years (Andy Warhol bested him in 2007).China also held the highest stake in the art market last year at 39%, 14% above the US.
The Chinese artist Qi Baishi was the second highest top earner, while Warhol came in third, Picasso in fourth, and another Chinese artist, Xu Beihong, came in fifth, according to French research company Artprice.
You may not have heard of these foreign artists. But Chinese buyers have. “They are on top because China is the number one country at auction and the Chinese are buying their own artists,” Martin Bremond, head economist at Artprice told Bloomberg.
Zhang, known for his landscapes, generated $506.7 million in auction revenue in 2011, and his 1947 painting “Lotus and Mandarin Ducks” earned $24.5 million at the Hong Kong Sotheby’s. Compared with Picasso–whose highest earnings, in 2010, reached $362.7 million–that’s a big increase.