Lydia Thompson on the challenges and opportunities of the Chinese art market

Recently Lydia Thompson, a principal of Thompson & Martinez Fine Art Appraisals, and expert on Chinese art taught a webinar The Chinese Art Market: Challenges and Opportunities on behalf of the American Society of Appraisers. Drawing on more than 25 years in the Chinese art field, Dr. Thompson provided historical context for the tremendous growth of the market in the past 20 years, the pitfalls of appraising Chinese art as well as the opportunities. To learn more about the topics addressed, please visit: Q&A with Dr. Lydia Thompson


Resources for San Diego Art Collectors

In addition to appraisal services, Thompson & Martinez consults with collectors regarding the acquisition, management and sale of fine art works. Last month, Natasha Bonilla Eckholm spoke to the East County Chapter of the San Diego Museum of Art on art collecting in “A Primer for Aspiring Art Collectors in San Diego: Strategies, Value, Collection Care and More,” presented at the Grossmont Hospital Healthcare Auditorium. The lecture covered collecting strategies and resources, as well as collections care, insurance and legacy planning. Resources for San Diego Collectors


Song Zhuang Art District, Beijing

One of the most interesting places I visited on my trip to China in early June was the Song Zhuang Art District on the outskirts of Beijing. We were taken by our friend Liu Yan who kindly arranged for us to meet with Shao Qi, an art gallery director, and to visit the studios of artists, Liu Liguo and Chen Qing Qing. The first artists moved to Song Zhuang in the mid-1990s after the government pushed them from their neighborhoods in Beijing to make room for new development projects. Looking for a new place to work, the artists moved to a rural village that would be somewhat removed from the purview of the state. Since then the artists have turned Song Zhuang from a backwater to a thriving artist colony which now numbers around 4000, including international art stars like Fang Lijun and Yue Minjun as well as thousands of struggling and foreign artists.

song_zhuang_1 After driving for about 45 minutes away from the center of Beijing we arrived at what first appears to be a rather non-descript suburb with roads lined with small stores selling paint, pipes and vegetables. However, as our driving tour continued we were astounded to see a series of imposing, architecturally striking museums and galleries under construction. Those that were completed were mostly empty or closed.
song_zhuang_2Equally anomalous was a massive sculpture created by Fang Lijun set in the middle of a round-about. At first it struck me as looking like an over-sized Hersey’s Kiss. But, as Shao Qi explained, the different colored and textured layers represent the hierarchy of Chinese society with the wide thick base made of earth identified with the peasant class supporting six more ever-diminishing layers up to the golden pinnacle representing China’s political and business elite – a wry commentary on the disparity of wealth and power in China today.

song_zhuang_3Besides visiting the comfortable and well-appointed studios of Liu Liguo and Chen Qing Qing, we also stopped in to visit the condo of a middle-aged, amateur painter, and the wife of a wealthy businessman. Her current digs were modern and pleasant but temporary, and she was in the throes of designing and beginning construction on a brand-new, permanent home to be built on land leased from the local government. With China’s newly affluent class taking up residence, the life-style of the majority of artists living and working in Song Zhuang is threatened by rising rents and plans by the government to develop Tongzhou, the district where Song Zhuang is located, into a commercial center by 2015.