The fastest-growing sector of a feverish international art market saw prices leap by multiples of ten or more.
No longer. The global recession is deflating sales. Today, “the bubble is really bursting,” says Beijing painter Zhao Gang, as prices tumble by nearly one-third and record-setting Chinese artists watch their works go unsold at auction.
But few people in the art world here are lamenting the end of an overheated era. “Chinese artists were seen as ATMs,” says Jerome Sans, director of the nonprofit Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing. “Maybe now they’ll stop creating for the market and create for the mind.”
Maybe too, he suggests, as the internationally fueled boom runs out of steam, local artists will turn their attention to local buyers, who are just beginning to build a collectors’ market.