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The 1992 Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair

In the introduction to the 1992 Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair catalogue, the organizers of the event predicted that art in China would turn toward the market, that commercial investment would replace state sponsorship, that commercial enterprises would replace state-sponsored cultural organizations, and that a new system of legitimization and value based on academic criteria, legal contracts, and monetary reward would replace the bureaucratic and often compromised judging process favored by the state.[1]

These were bold claims at a time when there was almost no commercial market for Chinese contemporary art. And they were backed up by a bold experiment—an exhibition of work by more than 350 artists, most of whom were under the age of forty. All of the artwork in the exhibition was available for sale, and, in addition, the artists who made the top twenty-seven artworks, as judged by a youthful group of jurors, were eligible to receive large cash rewards.[2] These awards ranged from 10,000 RMB for third place to 50,000 RMB for first place, an extraordinary amount of money at a time when few Chinese citizens made more than 3,000 RMB a year.[3]

Called the Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair ("Art Fair" is missing from the Chinese title), this exhibition took place in a hotel in the southern Chinese capital of Guangdong Province from October 8 to October 28, 1992.[4] It was launched with start-up funds provided by a Chengdu-based entrepreneur whose company made car parts, and its goal was to make a profit.

The Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair was prescient. It foresaw the development of an active art market for contemporary Chinese oil painting. It anticipated the art fairs and their not-so-distant cousins, the domestic biennials that sprang up all over China and other parts of Asia in the late 1990s and early 2000s. But it also launched a virulent debate that continues to this day.

Did the art market offer contemporary artists a credible alternative to the state system of control in the wake of the June 4, 1989, Tiananmen tragedy, when experimental art was barred from most government-sponsored venues and media platforms? Did this alternative system open a new space for legitimization of and support for artists looking for independence and a measure of personal freedom? Or was commerce a contaminant that lured artists with the promise of short-term financial rewards, sapping art of its criticality and edge, as many critics have contended, then and now? Did it strengthen the hands of foreign buyers with their greater purchasing power, thus unduly influencing artistic taste and trends?

By most accounts, the experiment failed to achieve its goals. From the perspective of today, the Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair could be construed as an overly literal response to Deng Xiaoping’s call to accelerate economic reform after his famous 1992 tour of southern China, which has been encapsulated in the catchphrase “To get rich is glorious.”[5] Even one of the main organizers, Chengdu-based art writer and cultural entrepreneur Lü Peng, has admitted that his goals were unrealistic, even naive. The timing was premature, the structure of the project was flawed, and the company that provided its main support went bankrupt.[6] Its prematurity and flawed execution aside, the exhibition’s basic premise was resisted by many in the art world. Contemporary artists created performances to express their displeasure. Two participants sprayed Lysol throughout the exhibition to disinfect the "contaminated" space.[7] Another distributed bogus shares in a commercial art company named after himself.[8] And preeminent art critic Li Xianting reportedly became so disturbed after attending the opening event that he wept.[9] Other criticisms were aimed at the Biennial’s provincialism. Many of the participants, including the organizers, judges, and artists came from the southern and southwestern provinces of China, a bias that some critics saw as unbalanced and limiting.[10]

However, there were certain central issues that most young critics agreed upon. First, it was time to establish an alternative system of legitimization of and support for contemporary art, one based on critical and academic analysis rather than on bureaucratic and political credentials required by the state. And second, as Lü Peng asserted in a 1992 article in the magazine Art and Market, this alternative system and the standards underlying its voracity should be determined by the Chinese people themselves.[11] China’s state-sponsored cultural apparatus was stifling and the hyper-conservatism of the prevailing standards of politically correct art were a constant irritant. Nevertheless, in the minds of these idealists, the emergence of buyers from outside China was also irritating, as they were considered equally misguided, patronizing artists many young critics deemed unworthy.[12]

Criticizing foreign patronage of the arts was not new. As early as 1979, then–Chairman of the Chinese Artists Association Jiang Feng inveighed against the degrading influence of foreign buyers on the production of artists who, he wrote, were churning out inferior works in pursuit of material gain.[13] Although not the first to identify these pernicious tendencies, the organizers of the Guangzhou Biennial were among the first to attempt to construct a serious domestic system of support for experimental art, one based on domestic financial support and patrons, a domestic legal structure and contracts, and standards determined by local professionals, in particular young academicians and critics.

These aspirations, which were at once professional and nationalistic, again anticipated the development later in the decade. For example, Zhang Qing in the preface of the catalogue of the 2000 Shanghai Biennale railed against “patrons from embassy districts and galleries hosted by foreigners” who “exerted a strong aesthetic influence on local artists who were kept busy producing lucrative ‘new paintings for export’ with amazing speed and quantity.”[14] In this preface Zhang also expressed heightened concerns about the international biennale circuit that had developed apace during the 1990s and worried that if the Chinese did not take action, “the yardstick . . . for admission would be held exclusively in foreign curators’ hands.”[15] In Zhang’s mind the 2000 Shanghai Biennale was a serious attempt, like the Guangzhou Biennale had been eight years before, to “reshape the existing exhibition system,” and to develop critera determined by Chinese (and Asian) scholars.[16]

In hindsight, that the Guangzhou Biennale failed to achieve its unrealistic aspirations is understandable. The disparity in purchasing power between China and other industrialized countries was, in the 1990s, too great to overcome, such that, along with the exorable wave of global capital, Chinese products including art were swept offshore to Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the wealthier West. And it is only now, in the 2010s, that this tide might be turning, at least in the art world.[17] But despite its multiple failures, the Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair did anticipate the importance of the role of the burgeoning art market in the development of contemporary Chinese art and succeeded in offering some experimental artists (mostly painters working in oil) an alternative to the state system of support that had previously controlled art’s production, circulation, and value. In this regard, it is interesting to note that works by ten of the top twenty-seven prizewinners of the Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair—Zeng Fanzhi, Zhang Xiaogang, Zhou Chunya, Wang Guangyi, Ye Yongqing, Leng Jun, Mo Yan, Mao Xuhui, Shu Qun, and Guan Ce—regularly go for top prices in today’s international auction market.[18] And further, although it did not forestall the threat of moving Chinese contemporary art offshore and into the hands of foreign buyers, the Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair did give tangible shape to the desire among many artists and art practitioners to establish an independent and domestic art infrastructure based on local scholarship, local critical discourse, and local patronage, a project that continues today to be a complicated but important work in process.

Footnotes:

[1]: See May 11, 1992, preface to the catalogue for the Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair, unpaginated. The catalogue’s Chinese title is Zhongguo Guangzhou shoujie jiushi niandai: yishu shuangnianzhan youhua bufen zuopin wenxian. Please note that the term “Art Fair” does not appear in the Chinese title of this catalogue, only in the original English title, which is The First 1990s’ [sic] Biennial Art Fair Guangzhou, China, Oil Painting Section, Documentary Works. For the purpose of this essay, the authors have standardized the English title of the exhibition.

[2]: Critics involved in the selection of the work included Zhu Bin, Shao Hong, Yi Ying, Yuan Shanchun, Pi Daojian, Peng De, Yang Li, Huang Zhuan, and Yin Shuangxi. See Lü Peng, Zhongguo dangdai yishushi, 1990–1999 [A history of modern Chinese art: 1990–1999], 127.

[3]: See “Guangzhou shoujie jiushi niandai yishu shuangnianzhan youhua bufen huojiang zuopin fenggao” [Announcement of the award-winning artwork of the First 1990s' Guangzhou Biennial, Oil Painting Section], Yishu shichang [Art and market], no. 6 (1992): 67. Also see World Bank GPD per capita statistics, accessed February 28, 2015, http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.CD?page=4

[4]: See Lü Peng, interview by author, Chengdu, October 16, 2006. Also see numerous primary documents in the Lü Peng Archive at Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong, including the invitation card, exhibition application, sponsorship documents, contracts, jury statements, press material, and photographs.

[5]: That Deng Xiaoping, preeminent leader of the People’s Republic of China from the 1970s to the 1990s, said “To get rich is glorious” has never been confirmed. But the phrase has frequently been used in the press and particularly among Western writers to describe the ethos of entrepreurship that was encouraged by the Chinese state and developed in the wake of a series of economic reforms that began in the late 1970s and accelerated through the 1980s and 1990s.

[6]: With start-up funds provided by entrepreneur Luo Haiquan, the Xishu Art Company was established to fund the operations of the Guangzhou Biennial. However, when expenses exceeded the overly optimistic revenue projections, the Xishu Art Company was unable to meet its obligations, resulting in a lawsuit. See page 248, Jane DeBevoise, Between State and Market: Chinese Contemporary Art in the Post-Mao Era, and documents in the Lü Peng Archive at Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong.

[7]: See Wang Lin, Zhongguo: Bajiuhou yishu [China: Post-’89 art]. (Hong Kong: Yishu chaoliu zazhishe,1997): 92.

[8]: See “Sun Ping gupiao youxian gongsi zai Guangzhou faxing gupiao” [Sun Ping Company issues shares in Guangzhou], Guangdong meisujia [Guangdong artists], no. 2 (1993): 49.

[9]: See Wang Lin, Zhongugo: Bajiuhou yishu [China: Post-’89 art]. (Hong Kong: Yishu chaoliu zazhishe,1997): 92–93.

[10]: Yi Ying, “Chao weiping feng zhaqi,” [The wind picks up when the tide is still in]. Beijing qingnianbao [Beijing youth daily], October 15, 1992, 4–5. Also see Geremie Barmé, “Artful Marketing”, In the Red: On Contemporary Chinese Culture (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999): 218.

[11]: See Lü Peng “Biaozhun bixu you Zhongguoren ziji lai que ding” [Standards should be established by Chinese people themselves], Yishu shichang, no. 7 (1992): 18–19.

[12]: See Ye Yongqing “Zhiyou Zhongguo ren caineng zujin Zhongguo yishu shichang de jianli: Yishujia Ye Yongqing 1991 nian 9 yue 12 ri gei Lü Peng de xin” [Only Chinese people can establish a Chinese art market: A letter to Lü Peng from Ye Yongqing dated September 12, 1991], Yishu shichang, no. 2 (1991): 3.

[13]: See Jiang Feng, “Guanyu Zhongguohua wenti de yifeng xin” [A letter about the problem of Chinese painting], Meishu [Art], no. 12 (1979): 10–11.

[14]: Zhang Qing, “Beyond Left and Right: Transformation of the Shanghai Biennale,” Shanghai Biennale 2000, unpaginated.

[15]: Zhang Qing, “Beyond Left and Right: Transformation of the Shanghai Biennale,” Shanghai Biennale 2000, unpaginated.

[16]: Zhang Qing, “Beyond Left and Right: Transformation of the Shanghai Biennale,” Shanghai Biennale 2000, unpaginated.

[17]: If the price of art at auction can be used as a yardstick, in at least one study, sales in China of contemporary art at auction surpassed the U.S. art market, totaling 601 million euros in 2014, versus 552 million euros in the U.S. See Contemporary Art Market 2014: The Artprice Annual Report, 21, accessed February 28, 2015, http://imgpublic.artprice.com/pdf/artprice-contemporary-2013-2014-en.pdf

[18]: Ibid. See the appendix entitled “Top Contemporary Artists (2013/2014),” unpaginated. Of the one hundred top-performing contemporary artists (by auction turnover), forty-seven were Chinese, with Zeng Fanzhi ranking number four, Zhang Xiaogang number ten, Zhou Chunya number twelve, and Wang Guangyi number eighty-four. Other Guangzhou Biennial award-winning artists have also performed well, with Ye Yongping at number 107, Leng Jun at number 157, Mo Yan number 230, Mao Xuhui number 341, Shu Qun number 391, and Guan Ce number 441.

Author

Jd shifting sites

Jane DeBevoise

Chair, Asia Art Archive, New York and Hong Kong Jane DeBevoise is Chair of the Board of Directors of Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong and New York. Prior to moving to Hong Kong in 2002, Ms. DeBevoise was Deputy Director of... Read more »
Anthony yung

Anthony Yung

Senior Researcher Asia Art Archive Anthony Yung is a senior researcher at Asia Art Archive, specializing in China’s related research projects. He managed AAA’s major research project Materials of the... Read more »
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The 1992 Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair

In the introduction to the 1992 Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair catalogue, the organizers of the event predicted that art in China would turn toward the market, that commercial investment would replace state sponsorship, that commercial enterprises would replace state-sponsored cultural organizations, and that a new system of legitimization and value based on academic criteria, legal contracts, and monetary reward would replace the bureaucratic and often compromised judging process favored by the state.[1]

These were bold claims at a time when there was almost no commercial market for Chinese contemporary art. And they were backed up by a bold experiment—an exhibition of work by more than 350 artists, most of whom were under the age of forty. All of the artwork in the exhibition was available for sale, and, in addition, the artists who made the top twenty-seven artworks, as judged by a youthful group of jurors, were eligible to receive large cash rewards.[2] These awards ranged from 10,000 RMB for third place to 50,000 RMB for first place, an extraordinary amount of money at a time...

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In the introduction to the 1992 Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair catalogue, the organizers of the event predicted that art in China would turn toward the market, that commercial investment would replace state sponsorship, that commercial enterprises would replace state-sponsored cultural organizations, and that a new system of legitimization and value based on academic criteria, legal contracts, and monetary reward would replace the bureaucratic and often compromised judging process favored by the state.[1]

These were bold claims at a time when there was almost no commercial market for Chinese contemporary art. And they were backed up by a bold experiment—an exhibition of work by more than 350 artists, most of whom were under the age of forty. All of the artwork in the exhibition was available for sale, and, in addition, the artists who made the top twenty-seven artworks, as judged by a youthful group of jurors, were eligible to receive large cash rewards.[2] These awards ranged from 10,000 RMB for third place to 50,000 RMB for first place, an extraordinary amount of money at a time when few Chinese citizens made more than 3,000 RMB a year.[3]

Called the Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair ("Art Fair" is missing from the Chinese title), this exhibition took place in a hotel in the southern Chinese capital of Guangdong Province from October 8 to October 28, 1992.[4] It was launched with start-up funds provided by a Chengdu-based entrepreneur whose company made car parts, and its goal was to make a profit.

The Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair was prescient. It foresaw the development of an active art market for contemporary Chinese oil painting. It anticipated the art fairs and their not-so-distant cousins, the domestic biennials that sprang up all over China and other parts of Asia in the late 1990s and early 2000s. But it also launched a virulent debate that continues to this day.

Did the art market offer contemporary artists a credible alternative to the state system of control in the wake of the June 4, 1989, Tiananmen tragedy, when experimental art was barred from most government-sponsored venues and media platforms? Did this alternative system open a new space for legitimization of and support for artists looking for independence and a measure of personal freedom? Or was commerce a contaminant that lured artists with the promise of short-term financial rewards, sapping art of its criticality and edge, as many critics have contended, then and now? Did it strengthen the hands of foreign buyers with their greater purchasing power, thus unduly influencing artistic taste and trends?

By most accounts, the experiment failed to achieve its goals. From the perspective of today, the Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair could be construed as an overly literal response to Deng Xiaoping’s call to accelerate economic reform after his famous 1992 tour of southern China, which has been encapsulated in the catchphrase “To get rich is glorious.”[5] Even one of the main organizers, Chengdu-based art writer and cultural entrepreneur Lü Peng, has admitted that his goals were unrealistic, even naive. The timing was premature, the structure of the project was flawed, and the company that provided its main support went bankrupt.[6] Its prematurity and flawed execution aside, the exhibition’s basic premise was resisted by many in the art world. Contemporary artists created performances to express their displeasure. Two participants sprayed Lysol throughout the exhibition to disinfect the "contaminated" space.[7] Another distributed bogus shares in a commercial art company named after himself.[8] And preeminent art critic Li Xianting reportedly became so disturbed after attending the opening event that he wept.[9] Other criticisms were aimed at the Biennial’s provincialism. Many of the participants, including the organizers, judges, and artists came from the southern and southwestern provinces of China, a bias that some critics saw as unbalanced and limiting.[10]

However, there were certain central issues that most young critics agreed upon. First, it was time to establish an alternative system of legitimization of and support for contemporary art, one based on critical and academic analysis rather than on bureaucratic and political credentials required by the state. And second, as Lü Peng asserted in a 1992 article in the magazine Art and Market, this alternative system and the standards underlying its voracity should be determined by the Chinese people themselves.[11] China’s state-sponsored cultural apparatus was stifling and the hyper-conservatism of the prevailing standards of politically correct art were a constant irritant. Nevertheless, in the minds of these idealists, the emergence of buyers from outside China was also irritating, as they were considered equally misguided, patronizing artists many young critics deemed unworthy.[12]

Criticizing foreign patronage of the arts was not new. As early as 1979, then–Chairman of the Chinese Artists Association Jiang Feng inveighed against the degrading influence of foreign buyers on the production of artists who, he wrote, were churning out inferior works in pursuit of material gain.[13] Although not the first to identify these pernicious tendencies, the organizers of the Guangzhou Biennial were among the first to attempt to construct a serious domestic system of support for experimental art, one based on domestic financial support and patrons, a domestic legal structure and contracts, and standards determined by local professionals, in particular young academicians and critics.

These aspirations, which were at once professional and nationalistic, again anticipated the development later in the decade. For example, Zhang Qing in the preface of the catalogue of the 2000 Shanghai Biennale railed against “patrons from embassy districts and galleries hosted by foreigners” who “exerted a strong aesthetic influence on local artists who were kept busy producing lucrative ‘new paintings for export’ with amazing speed and quantity.”[14] In this preface Zhang also expressed heightened concerns about the international biennale circuit that had developed apace during the 1990s and worried that if the Chinese did not take action, “the yardstick . . . for admission would be held exclusively in foreign curators’ hands.”[15] In Zhang’s mind the 2000 Shanghai Biennale was a serious attempt, like the Guangzhou Biennale had been eight years before, to “reshape the existing exhibition system,” and to develop critera determined by Chinese (and Asian) scholars.[16]

In hindsight, that the Guangzhou Biennale failed to achieve its unrealistic aspirations is understandable. The disparity in purchasing power between China and other industrialized countries was, in the 1990s, too great to overcome, such that, along with the exorable wave of global capital, Chinese products including art were swept offshore to Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the wealthier West. And it is only now, in the 2010s, that this tide might be turning, at least in the art world.[17] But despite its multiple failures, the Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair did anticipate the importance of the role of the burgeoning art market in the development of contemporary Chinese art and succeeded in offering some experimental artists (mostly painters working in oil) an alternative to the state system of support that had previously controlled art’s production, circulation, and value. In this regard, it is interesting to note that works by ten of the top twenty-seven prizewinners of the Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair—Zeng Fanzhi, Zhang Xiaogang, Zhou Chunya, Wang Guangyi, Ye Yongqing, Leng Jun, Mo Yan, Mao Xuhui, Shu Qun, and Guan Ce—regularly go for top prices in today’s international auction market.[18] And further, although it did not forestall the threat of moving Chinese contemporary art offshore and into the hands of foreign buyers, the Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair did give tangible shape to the desire among many artists and art practitioners to establish an independent and domestic art infrastructure based on local scholarship, local critical discourse, and local patronage, a project that continues today to be a complicated but important work in process.

Footnotes:

[1]: See May 11, 1992, preface to the catalogue for the Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair, unpaginated. The catalogue’s Chinese title is Zhongguo Guangzhou shoujie jiushi niandai: yishu shuangnianzhan youhua bufen zuopin wenxian. Please note that the term “Art Fair” does not appear in the Chinese title of this catalogue, only in the original English title, which is The First 1990s’ [sic] Biennial Art Fair Guangzhou, China, Oil Painting Section, Documentary Works. For the purpose of this essay, the authors have standardized the English title of the exhibition.

[2]: Critics involved in the selection of the work included Zhu Bin, Shao Hong, Yi Ying, Yuan Shanchun, Pi Daojian, Peng De, Yang Li, Huang Zhuan, and Yin Shuangxi. See Lü Peng, Zhongguo dangdai yishushi, 1990–1999 [A history of modern Chinese art: 1990–1999], 127.

[3]: See “Guangzhou shoujie jiushi niandai yishu shuangnianzhan youhua bufen huojiang zuopin fenggao” [Announcement of the award-winning artwork of the First 1990s' Guangzhou Biennial, Oil Painting Section], Yishu shichang [Art and market], no. 6 (1992): 67. Also see World Bank GPD per capita statistics, accessed February 28, 2015, http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.CD?page=4

[4]: See Lü Peng, interview by author, Chengdu, October 16, 2006. Also see numerous primary documents in the Lü Peng Archive at Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong, including the invitation card, exhibition application, sponsorship documents, contracts, jury statements, press material, and photographs.

[5]: That Deng Xiaoping, preeminent leader of the People’s Republic of China from the 1970s to the 1990s, said “To get rich is glorious” has never been confirmed. But the phrase has frequently been used in the press and particularly among Western writers to describe the ethos of entrepreurship that was encouraged by the Chinese state and developed in the wake of a series of economic reforms that began in the late 1970s and accelerated through the 1980s and 1990s.

[6]: With start-up funds provided by entrepreneur Luo Haiquan, the Xishu Art Company was established to fund the operations of the Guangzhou Biennial. However, when expenses exceeded the overly optimistic revenue projections, the Xishu Art Company was unable to meet its obligations, resulting in a lawsuit. See page 248, Jane DeBevoise, Between State and Market: Chinese Contemporary Art in the Post-Mao Era, and documents in the Lü Peng Archive at Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong.

[7]: See Wang Lin, Zhongguo: Bajiuhou yishu [China: Post-’89 art]. (Hong Kong: Yishu chaoliu zazhishe,1997): 92.

[8]: See “Sun Ping gupiao youxian gongsi zai Guangzhou faxing gupiao” [Sun Ping Company issues shares in Guangzhou], Guangdong meisujia [Guangdong artists], no. 2 (1993): 49.

[9]: See Wang Lin, Zhongugo: Bajiuhou yishu [China: Post-’89 art]. (Hong Kong: Yishu chaoliu zazhishe,1997): 92–93.

[10]: Yi Ying, “Chao weiping feng zhaqi,” [The wind picks up when the tide is still in]. Beijing qingnianbao [Beijing youth daily], October 15, 1992, 4–5. Also see Geremie Barmé, “Artful Marketing”, In the Red: On Contemporary Chinese Culture (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999): 218.

[11]: See Lü Peng “Biaozhun bixu you Zhongguoren ziji lai que ding” [Standards should be established by Chinese people themselves], Yishu shichang, no. 7 (1992): 18–19.

[12]: See Ye Yongqing “Zhiyou Zhongguo ren caineng zujin Zhongguo yishu shichang de jianli: Yishujia Ye Yongqing 1991 nian 9 yue 12 ri gei Lü Peng de xin” [Only Chinese people can establish a Chinese art market: A letter to Lü Peng from Ye Yongqing dated September 12, 1991], Yishu shichang, no. 2 (1991): 3.

[13]: See Jiang Feng, “Guanyu Zhongguohua wenti de yifeng xin” [A letter about the problem of Chinese painting], Meishu [Art], no. 12 (1979): 10–11.

[14]: Zhang Qing, “Beyond Left and Right: Transformation of the Shanghai Biennale,” Shanghai Biennale 2000, unpaginated.

[15]: Zhang Qing, “Beyond Left and Right: Transformation of the Shanghai Biennale,” Shanghai Biennale 2000, unpaginated.

[16]: Zhang Qing, “Beyond Left and Right: Transformation of the Shanghai Biennale,” Shanghai Biennale 2000, unpaginated.

[17]: If the price of art at auction can be used as a yardstick, in at least one study, sales in China of contemporary art at auction surpassed the U.S. art market, totaling 601 million euros in 2014, versus 552 million euros in the U.S. See Contemporary Art Market 2014: The Artprice Annual Report, 21, accessed February 28, 2015, http://imgpublic.artprice.com/pdf/artprice-contemporary-2013-2014-en.pdf

[18]: Ibid. See the appendix entitled “Top Contemporary Artists (2013/2014),” unpaginated. Of the one hundred top-performing contemporary artists (by auction turnover), forty-seven were Chinese, with Zeng Fanzhi ranking number four, Zhang Xiaogang number ten, Zhou Chunya number twelve, and Wang Guangyi number eighty-four. Other Guangzhou Biennial award-winning artists have also performed well, with Ye Yongping at number 107, Leng Jun at number 157, Mo Yan number 230, Mao Xuhui number 341, Shu Qun number 391, and Guan Ce number 441.

     

01a

Trifold invitation card to the Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair.

01b

Two-page document used for publicity purposes, describing the structure of the event, including the application process, participation fee, award levels, and sponsorship opportunities.

02a

Photograph of the staging area of the Guangzhou Biennial.

02b

Photograph of the group of art historians, critics, and art magazine editors who were invited to form a jury committee to decide the prize-winning works at the Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair, July 1992.

03

Photograph of chief organizer, Lü Peng, speaking at the press conference of the Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair. Photographer: Xiao Quan [肖全].

04a

Photograph of main financial sponsor, Luo Haiquan [罗海泉], and chief organizer, Lü Peng, giving speeches at the opening of the Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair on October 20, 1992. Photographer: Xiao Quan[肖全].

04b

Photograph of the crowd of visitors entering the exhibition venue at the Guangzhou Central Hotel during the opening on October 20, 1992, of the Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair. Photographer: Xiao Quan [肖全].

05

Photograph of the award ceremony of the Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair. In the first row, from the left, are Wang Guangyi [王广义], Li Luming [李路明], Shang Yang [尚阳], Mao Yan [毛焰], Zhou Chunya [周春芽], Shu Qun [舒群], and Wei Guangqing [魏光庆].

06

Photograph of artist Wang Guangyi and representatives from Shenzhen Donghui Enterprise Ltd. [深圳市东辉实业股份有限公司], the major collector of works at the Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair. Photographer: Xiao Quan [肖全].

07a

Photograph of a group of young visitors looking at the paintings in the exhibition. On the wall on the right, there is a painting by Miu Zheshu [謬哲曙] and on the left, there is a painting by Song Yonghong [宋永红]. Photographer: Xiao Quan [肖全].

07b

Photograph of people selling catalogues and souvenirs at the Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair. Photographer: Xiao Quan [肖全].

08a

Photograph of artist Sun Ping [孙平] standing in front of his artwork, which was exhibited at the Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair.

08b

Photograph of artist Sun Ping [孙平] standing in front of his artwork, which was exhibited at the Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair.

08d

China Sun Ping Art Co., Ltd., share certificates [中国孙平艺术股份有限公司 - 股票]. Courtesy of the artist.

08c

Announcement of Renminbi Share Certificates (A) to be issued by China Sun Ping Art Co., Ltd [中国孙平艺术股份有限公司发行人民幣股票(A股)招股公告]]. Courtesy of the artist.

09

Advertisements in Jingji Ribao [Economic daily 经济日报] and Shenzhen Tequ Bao [Shenzhen special economic zone newspaper 深圳特区报] .

10

Advertisements in Jingji Ribao [Economic daily 经济日报] and Shenzhen Tequ Bao [Shenzhen special economic zone newspaper 深圳特区报] .

11

Front cover of Yishu Shichang [艺术·市场 Art and market] magazine and first page of the article entitled “Standards should be established by Chinese people themselves” [标准必须由中国人自已来确定] by Lü Peng, in Yishu shichang, no. 7 (1992): 18–19.

01a

Trifold invitation card to the Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair.

Courtesy of Lü Peng Archive at Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong.

01b

Two-page document used for publicity purposes, describing the structure of the event, including the application process, participation fee, award levels, and sponsorship opportunities.

Courtesy of Lü Peng Archive at Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong.

02a

Photograph of the staging area of the Guangzhou Biennial.

Chief organizer Lü Peng [吕澎] stands at the center of the photograph, amid the assembled oil paintings, preparing for the exhibition. Wang Guangyi’s prize-winning works can be seen hanging on the back wall of the room. Photographer: Xiao Chuan [肖全]. Courtesy of Lü Peng Archive at Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong.

02b

Photograph of the group of art historians, critics, and art magazine editors who were invited to form a jury committee to decide the prize-winning works at the Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair, July 1992.

The jurors included: Lü Peng [呂澎], Shao Hong [邵宏], Yan Shuanchun [严善錞], Yi Dan [易丹], Yang Xiaoyan [杨小彦], Huang Zhuan [黄专], and Zhu Bin [祝斌]. Additionally, there was an appraisal committee that included Pi Daojian [皮道堅], Peng De [彭德], Yin Shuangxi [殷双喜], Chen Xiaoxin [陈孝信], Gu Chengfeng [顧丞峰], and Yang Li [杨荔]. In this photo, from the left, are Huang Zhuan [黄专], Pi Daojian [皮道堅], Yin Shuangxi [殷双喜], Lü Peng [呂澎], Shao Hong [邵宏], and Zhu Bin [祝斌]. Photographer: Xiao Quan [肖全]. Courtesy of Lü Peng Archive at Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong.

03

Photograph of chief organizer, Lü Peng, speaking at the press conference of the Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair. Photographer: Xiao Quan [肖全].

Courtesy of Lü Peng Archive at Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong.

04a

Photograph of main financial sponsor, Luo Haiquan [罗海泉], and chief organizer, Lü Peng, giving speeches at the opening of the Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair on October 20, 1992. Photographer: Xiao Quan[肖全].

Courtesy of Lü Peng Archive at Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong.

04b

Photograph of the crowd of visitors entering the exhibition venue at the Guangzhou Central Hotel during the opening on October 20, 1992, of the Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair. Photographer: Xiao Quan [肖全].

Courtesy of Lü Peng Archive at Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong.

05

Photograph of the award ceremony of the Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair. In the first row, from the left, are Wang Guangyi [王广义], Li Luming [李路明], Shang Yang [尚阳], Mao Yan [毛焰], Zhou Chunya [周春芽], Shu Qun [舒群], and Wei Guangqing [魏光庆].

Photographer: Xiao Quan [肖全]. Courtesy of Lü Peng Archive at Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong.

06

Photograph of artist Wang Guangyi and representatives from Shenzhen Donghui Enterprise Ltd. [深圳市东辉实业股份有限公司], the major collector of works at the Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair. Photographer: Xiao Quan [肖全].

Courtesy of Lü Peng Archive at Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong.

07a

Photograph of a group of young visitors looking at the paintings in the exhibition. On the wall on the right, there is a painting by Miu Zheshu [謬哲曙] and on the left, there is a painting by Song Yonghong [宋永红]. Photographer: Xiao Quan [肖全].

Courtesy of Lü Peng Archive at Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong.

07b

Photograph of people selling catalogues and souvenirs at the Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair. Photographer: Xiao Quan [肖全].

Courtesy of Lü Peng Archive at Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong.

08a

Photograph of artist Sun Ping [孙平] standing in front of his artwork, which was exhibited at the Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair.

As a comment on the commercialism of the event, Sun Ping affixed to his artwork an announcement of an issuance of shares in a bogus company named after himself, China Sun Ping Art Co., Ltd. [中国孙平艺术股份有限公司]. Photographer unknown. Courtesy of Lü Peng Archive at Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong.

08b

Photograph of artist Sun Ping [孙平] standing in front of his artwork, which was exhibited at the Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair.

As a comment on the commercialism of the event, Sun Ping affixed to his artwork an announcement of an issuance of shares in a bogus company named after himself, China Sun Ping Art Co., Ltd. [中国孙平艺术股份有限公司]. Photographer unknown. Courtesy of Lü Peng Archive at Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong.

08d

China Sun Ping Art Co., Ltd., share certificates [中国孙平艺术股份有限公司 - 股票]. Courtesy of the artist.

Courtesy of Lü Peng Archive at Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong.

08c

Announcement of Renminbi Share Certificates (A) to be issued by China Sun Ping Art Co., Ltd [中国孙平艺术股份有限公司发行人民幣股票(A股)招股公告]]. Courtesy of the artist.

Courtesy of Lü Peng Archive at Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong.

09

Advertisements in Jingji Ribao [Economic daily 经济日报] and Shenzhen Tequ Bao [Shenzhen special economic zone newspaper 深圳特区报] .

Advertisements in Jingji Ribao [Economic Daily 经济日报] and Shenzhen Tequ Bao [Shenzhen Special Economic Zone Newspaper 深圳特区报] about the Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair and the purchase of the twenty-seven award-winning artworks for 1 million RMB by Shenzhen Donghui Enterprise Ltd. [深圳市东辉实业股份有限公司].
Courtesy of Lü Peng Archive at Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong.

10

Advertisements in Jingji Ribao [Economic daily 经济日报] and Shenzhen Tequ Bao [Shenzhen special economic zone newspaper 深圳特区报] .

Advertisements in Jingji Ribao [economic daily 经济日报] and Shenzhen Tequ Bao [Shenzhen special economic zone newspaper 深圳特区报] about Guangzhou Biennial Art Fair and the purchase of the 27 award-winning artworks for 1 million renminbi by Shenzhen Donghui Enterprise Ltd. [深圳市东辉实业股份有限公司].
Courtesy of Lü Peng Archive at Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong.

11

Front cover of Yishu Shichang [艺术·市场 Art and market] magazine and first page of the article entitled “Standards should be established by Chinese people themselves” [标准必须由中国人自已来确定] by Lü Peng, in Yishu shichang, no. 7 (1992): 18–19.

Courtesy of Lü Peng Archive at Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong.

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