According to the last Artprice report (August 2015), in recent months, the best results generated by the French auction market have mainly focused on works with Franco-Chinese influences (Chinese artists who lived and worked in France): Zao Wou- Ki and San Yu accounted for four of the five best hammer prices during H1 2015. Who are these artists, and how they lifted the french contemporary art market ?
The best sale recorded in France in H1 2015 is amounted to 4.2m$. It’s a painting titled “1.5.60” (1960) painted by the Franco-Chinese artist Zao Wou-ki. Remember, in June 2015, at Sotheby’s France, His oils painted in 1960, at a key moment of his career, have been directly purchased by his collectors.
Stefano Moreni, director of the contemporary art department, and director of the auction catalog, explained : “The most difficult was to have the two Zao. Imagine, two paintings to four-day interval, on May 1 and May 5 1960, and retained for 55 years in two collections. It took time to convince the owners to sell “.
Even the loyal artistic director of the Zao Wou-Ki Foundation, the art historian Yann Hendgen, which was a long time the Franco-Chinese master of asian lyrical abstraction’s assistant, didn’t know these oils sold directly by the artist to collectors.
Zao Wou-Ki was born on February 1, 1920 in Beijing, and died April 9, 2013 in Nyon (Switzerland), is a Chinese painter and engraver of lyric abstraction. He got french nationality in 1964. Quickly he became popular in the West, and became friends with Pierre Soulages, Joan Miró and Henri Michaux.
In June again, the Parisian auction house Aguttes noted a sale record of 4.080.320€ (roughly US $ 4.480.400), for the Franco-Chinese San Yu. With a low estimate at 1.5M€, “Flowers in a vase with an inscription” (1930), sparked a lively bidding war.
San yu is a Franco-Chinese painter born October 14, 1901 in Nanchong, Sichuan, and died in 1966. He lived in Montparnasse in the 1920s when he studied in France and became friends with Henri Matisse. His major concern was the study of the nude and he realized many sketches, identifying talent and speed with its models. It’s from 1929 that Sanyu actually began painting on canvas nudes. The 1930-1940 period was the most fruitful: free from any material concern, Sanyu painted works are both figurative, peaceful and harmonious.
In Fact, it only remains to hope that these sales records will allow to France to recuperate a better financial health, never regained since 2009 with the financial crisis.