As many as 50,000 people may converge on a BMW M3 race car custom painted by Jeff Koons and thousands of other contemporary works as Hong Kong consolidates its position this week as Asia’s place to buy art.
ART HK 11, the fourth edition of the Hong Kong International Art Fair, opens to the public from today through May 29 with works ranging from Pablo Picasso to Andy Warhol to contemporary Chinese painter Zeng Fanzhi. About 6,000 Veuve Clicquot-sipping VIPs got first picks at the preview yesterday.
The gathering of 260 galleries from 38 countries is part of an eight-day spending spree in the city that includes Spring auctions by Bonham’s and Christie’s International, a wine sale by New York-based Acker, Merrall & Condit, and gallery shows including those by Chinese performance artist Zhang Huan at Edouard Malingue and American photographer David LaChapelle at de Sarthe Fine Art.
“You better get some sleep in advance,” said Nick Simunovic, director of Gagosian’s Hong Kong gallery, which is simultaneously running a one-man show featuring biker girls and nurses by American artist Richard Prince and a booth at ART HK selling works by artists including Damien Hirst and Takashi Murakami.
In four years, ART HK has become a major stop of the global art fair circuit, closing in on London’s Frieze and Art Basel Miami Beach, which draw crowds of about 60,000 to 70,000.
“The art market tends to follow wealth and the greatest wealth is being created in Asia,” said fair director Magnus Renfrew.
New York’s Leo Castelli Gallery is back for the second year, with works by Richard Pettibone and Roy Lichtenstein. “We feel that the Hong Kong Art fair is uniquely situated for many international collectors,” said Jessica Duffett, a spokeswoman for the gallery.
Works from more than 1,000 artists range from drawings costing as little as $1,000 to multimillion dollar works by Picasso, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Hirst.
White Cube sold a work in modeled clay figurines entitled “Das Kapital is Kaput, Ya, Nein, Dummkopf” by Jake & Dinos Chapman to an Asian collector for 525,000 pounds ($850,000) within the first hour of the event.
“Mainland Chinese collectors are becoming a potent force in contemporary art, acting as a magnet for western galleries,” said Bruno Bischofberger, who has brought his Zurich-based gallery to ART HK for the first time. “China itself is our main interest,” said Bischofberger, who believes in planting his gallery’s flag in the east with his best works.
Those include a 10-meter long work by Warhol entitled “Colored Maos,” selling for about $50 million, and a Jean- Michel Basquiat work priced at $13.5 million.
To contact the writer on the story: Frederik Balfour in Hong Kong at firstname.lastname@example.org