Though China just became the second-largest economy in the world, after the U.S., its rapid rise as an art power has been astounding. It took just three years for China to jump from third place, previously occupied by France, to first place in 2010.
It's not just China's newly minted billionaire collectors that are flexing their muscles, but artists as well. A number of Chinese artists, who are barely known in the West, turned up in last year's top global rankings.
Four Chinese artists made it into the top 10 ranked by auction revenue for 2010, up from just one in 2009, with Qi Baishi, believed to be the most popular 20th century painter in China, coming in second after Andy Warhol. In addition, more than half of the global top 10 contemporary artists are Chinese, compared with just three Americans—the late Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jeff Koons and Richard Prince, according to Thierry Ehrmann, chief executive of Artprice.
Art-world power shifts to China - Crain's New York Business.