Painting Blog > Artist-Art, Painting > Buy an artist: the other end of the painting spectrum

Buy an artist: the other end of the painting spectrum

Originally posted on August, 30, 2007

Chinese painting has been long an inspiration for me. My last article addressed the impact of neo-liberalism on today’s painters in China. I spoke of one end of the spectrum: the mass production which to me is abominable. In order to better understand neo-liberalism we need to look at the other end of the spectrum: China’s elite winners and shakers of contemporary painting.

I think that this recent example of their good fortune says it all (link). A few short years ago this painting with its strong political overtones was being strongly suppressed in China. Now they are being co-opted. If you cannot kill the message buy the messenger. Neo-liberalism does not take hostages. You are either with them or against them.

Sichaun Province in western China is building personal museums for 8 artists (Zhang Xiaogang, Wang Guangyi, Fang Lijun, Yue Minjun, Zhou Chunya, He Duoling, Zhang Peili and Wu Shanzhuan). The province provided land and about 13 millions dollars for the buildings.

In the 90’s these artists sold works for $100. Now some artists are selling pieces for more than 2 millions dollars. All have in this short time become millionaires. Now that is a winner in anybody’s terms. Also it epitomizes the black and white mentality of the neo-liberal philosophy. In China today you have sweatshop painters receiving 18ct per painting on the one hand; on the other hand, here you have an elitist getting more than 2 millions dollars. The question, at least for me arises as to what motivates this high rolling artist? Is it the money? Or better stated, did it become the money? If you are curious you can google these artists and look at their art.

Published in french as Acheter un artiste : l’autre bout de la gamme de la peinture.

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