Friday, May 12, 2006

A Chinese Art Career

In the New York Times on May 1st, David Barboza wrote an interesting account of art careerism in China. His examplar was artist Zhou Tiehai, 39, who recently had a solo exhibition at the Shanghai Art Museum. As a younger artist, Zhou was frustrated by the attention paid to other Chinese artists, so he set out to play the art market. Noting that the talked-about artists in China had signature styles, he developed a style that contained a recognizable element while mocking the whole process. His signature element, borrowed from the American cigarette brand, is Joe Camel. Now he is in demand by Western collectors, who pay up to $100,000 for a painting. Zhou developes the ideas for his paintings but does not actually paint them. He hires other artists to do that.

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