The emerging art markets of greater China, 1989-1999
This study is about the economic measurement of contemporary artworks, as set by the international market. It is about the internal forces that influence that value: the subtle interaction between the not-for-profit and profit-making sectors, and critical writing. It is also about the constraints placed on that value by external forces: macroeconomic and political factors and historical issues. The basis for this enquiry is that globalisation is a `reality' and that it is a Western construct. It is also understood that risk is an essential element of globalisation. It follows from this that global economic and political forces have an impact on culture and that a territory's economic and political performance is closely correlated with its cultural performance. As a consequence, territory's contemporary culture can be described economically as underdeveloped, developing or developed. It is accepted that most underdeveloped and developed territories aspire to become developed, and set about doing so by emulating the behaviour and performance of developed territories. So, developing territories experience the impact of global politics and economics and, by implication, culture. A developing society measures its contemporary artwork, therefore, economically, and correlates its value against the Western contemporary artwork. China is a developing nation and, therefore, measures the value of its contemporary artwork economically, using Western contemporary art as its yardstick. The mechanism for measuring value economically is the international market for artworks. The international art market, therefore, measures the value of a contemporary artwork. The value of a contemporary Chinese artwork is measured by the international art market and by local and regional equivalent markets, which emulate the performance of the international market. My study is complicated by the fact that it is a `safari' study (Hantrais, 1996). The region under discussion, Greater China, consists of two territories other than China; the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong and Taiwan, which are both developed economies. The purpose of this study is to alert the commercial and not-for-profit artworld sectors in Greater China to the crucial role played by the international art market, and its equivalents, in raising the value of contemporary Chinese artworks. The other intention of this study is to raise awareness among the West's commercial and not for- profit sector for the Greater China art market, which remains relatively under exploited.