Wed, Nov 13, 2013 - Page 12 News List

Art Taipei closes with bumper sales

Taiwan’s largest fair for selling contemporary art celebrated its twentieth birthday last weekend with 148 galleries, 35,000 visitors and sales that topped NT$1 billion

By David Frazier  /  Contributing reporter

“I think Western galleries are starting to look more to Asia, because there is already so much competition for that limited pool of collectors in North America and Europe. But there is so much money now in Asia, and they are starting to realize that. With art fairs, the Western galleries are looking at us to see which one can be a good access point,” said Eva Lin (林怡華), director of Art Taipei.

The London gallery Ibid, a first time exhibitor at Art Taipei, had come on just such a random exploratory mission. “Every year, we join one fair for the first time in a part of the world we are not familiar with. We do it just to see what is there,” said gallerist Magnus Edensvard. Though he did not sell out his booth, he claimed his results were “fantastic.”

Hot sellers

The hottest selling artist last weekend was probably Yayoi Kusama, the octogenarian female Japanese artist known for polka dots, gourds and patterns she calls “infinity webs.” Tokyo’s Whitestone Gallery sold 10 of her paintings for a total of around NT$59 million (US$2 million), and several other galleries sold her works as well.

“Clients here like the work from the 70s and 80s. They prefer the more figurative works to her abstract pieces,” said Whitestone’s Park Ji-young.

Other notable sales included a NT$35.4 million (US$1.2 million) tally of works by Liu Kuo-sung (劉國松) at Modern Art Gallery (現代畫廊) and NT$9.3 million in sales of sculptures by Katsura Funakoshi by Imavision (晴山藝術中心).

And even if the Picasso sale does not go through, Le Pelletier’s Opera Gallery still did well. By the closing public address announcement, he had netted US$ 280,000 (NT$8.2 million) on sales of just four works, including two Salvador Dali sculptures and a painting by Andre Brasilier. He had also found a potential buyer for a Marc Chagall still life from 1956, for which he was asking US$750,000.

“Taiwanese collectors are very serious,” he explained. “They want to collect the works and hold on to them. We met with several that already own Picassos, Chagalls or other 20th century masters. Some even have pieces I want to buy, but they won’t sell them.”

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