arts

$65 million Chinese oil painting leads one of Asia's largest ever art auctions

Updated 1st October 2018
"Juin-Octobre 1985," by Chinese painter Zao Wou-Ki, pictured during a media preview for the piece at the Sotheby's auction house showroom in Hong Kong.
Credit: Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images
$65 million Chinese oil painting leads one of Asia's largest ever art auctions
Written by Oscar Holland, CNN
A painting by the Chinese-French painter Zao Wou-Ki sold for a record 510 million Hong Kong dollars ($65 million) Sunday, leading one of Asia's largest ever art auctions.
The artist's abstract work "Juin-Octobre 1985" is now the most expensive painting ever to go under the hammer in Hong Kong, according to Sotheby's.
It was a record-breaking evening at the auction house, which sold $200 million worth of art at the sale. Asian artists featured prominently alongside household Western names, with Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara's "Portrait of AE" selling for more than 26.5 million Hong Kong dollars ($3.4 million).
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Elsewhere, records were set for eight different Asian artists, including Taiwan's Richard Lin and China's Hao Liang and Wang Xingwei, whose works all attracted bids in excess of $1 million.
But it was Zao's "Juin-Octobre 1985," named for its completion date, that secured the highest price tag of the night. Measuring 10 meters (33 feet) in length, the oil painting sold for more than double that previously paid for an artwork by Zao, who died in 2013.
Born in Beijing before moving to Paris after World War II, Zao is known for combining classical Chinese painting techniques with the abstract influences of Western modernism. Sunday's auction result "crowns (him as the) king of Asian oil painters," according to the chair of Sotheby's Asia, Patti Wong.
"With so many new benchmarks set here tonight, it is evident that Asian appetite for great examples of modern and contemporary art -- be they Asian or Western -- is voracious," she said in a press statement.
Also notable among the lots was contemporary artist Xu Zhen's "Xuzhen Supermarket," a mock convenience store stocked entirely with empty packages. Billed by Sotheby's as the first "concept" to be auctioned as an artwork in Asia, the winning bid of 2 million Hong Kong dollars ($255,000) obtained "the right to commission new physical recreations and enactments of the concept, to be executed by Xu Zhen," according to the auction house.
A previous installation of Xu Zhen's conceptual work "Xuzhen Supermarket."
A previous installation of Xu Zhen's conceptual work "Xuzhen Supermarket." Credit: MadeIn Company/Xu Zhen
Western art proved popular too, attracting a record total of 260 million Hong Kong dollars ($33.2 million) across the auction. Pablo Picasso's "Buste d'homme lauré," which saw a winning bid of 61 million Hong Kong dollars ($7.8 million), led a line-up of high-profile European and American artists including Joan Mitchell, Gerhard Richter, Anish Kapoor and KAWS.