Leading global auction house Christies
presents the Autumn Evening Sale Faces of the New China: An Important Private Collection, which leads the 2011 Hong Kong Autumn season of Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art sales from 26 to 27 November. Presented as a stand-alone sale within the prestigious Evening Sale and with a total estimate in excess of HK$150,000,000, this single owner collection comprises 14 iconic works by preeminent contemporary Chinese artists including Zhang Xiaogang, Yue Minjun, Cai Guoqiang, Liu Ye and Tang Zhigang. Representing the pinnacle of the earliest years of Chinese avant-garde art, these exquisite pieces epitomize the period when the artists established their creative paths and idiosyncratic styles, vividly showcasing the conceptual origins of one of the most astonishing cultural and aesthetic shifts in recent art history.
A cornerstone of the collection are the three monumental gunpowder drawings from the artist Cai Guoqiang, selected from his masterwork Drawings for the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation. The three works, Imagining the Universe, UFO and Ode to Joy, embody the core motifs of Cais art and the aesthetic concepts he has developed over the past 20 years. This series in particular is one of his most cited works, recognized for its epoch-making significance and immense value.
Chinese avant-garde art for the New China generation
Each work from Faces of the New China helps elucidate the core aspects of Chinese avant-garde art. Through the unique modes of representation, self-portraiture and portraiture developed by these artists, they have visualized not only an epoch and the changes within it, but also the lived experience of individuals in a manner that reflects the life and mind of the New China generation. As these artists scrutinized the place of the individual against a particular historical background, they have made a collective self-portrait, one that mirrors the mentality of a generation living ordinarily as individuals and, at the same time, existing under the expeditious metamorphosis of their country as a whole.
These works represent the characteristics of China in a particular space and time, thereby becoming the faces of an era. For these artists, portraiture became a genre through which to explore both traditional Chinese aesthetical forms, while also being equally reactive to modern Western styles of expression. Drawing from diverse strains of tradition and modernity, these intrepid artists hunt for unique expressive forms that are at once roots firmly in the Chinese culture and responses to a new era.
Their works, then, reveal the appeal of Chinese contemporary art internationally. The works of these artists variously delicate, haunting, satirical and explosive offer us direct insight into an extraordinary epoch, as well as the ways in which these artists discovered new terrain between the traditions of Western and Eastern art.
Christies Hong Kong has been the leading promoter and auctioneer of Asian modern and contemporary art since the categorys inception. We have been honoured to be entrusted, over the years, by private collectors, estates, and museums with their rare and desirable treasures. These include the collection of Yageo Foundation in 2004; the collection of Oliver Stone, a distinguished Hollywood director, in 2008; the historic Zao Wou-ki canvases, sold to benefit the acquisition fund of Harvard Universitys Fogg Art Museum in 2009; the private collection of Howard and Patricia Farber and the Estate of John Bransten, both sold earlier in 2011. This year, Faces of the New China: An Important Private Collection continues this great legacy.