Artworks by Chinese artists now command the highest fees, with artists like Zhang Daqian and Qi Baishi surpassing European greats such as Pablo Picasso as the top earners, according to recent reports.
A report by a French research organization, Artprice, indicated works of Spanish artist Picasso (who died in 1973) dominated the global art market over the last 14 years, making it to the top of the list a total of 13 times.
However, the 2011 ratings reveal Picasso was beaten by Daqian (1899 - 1983; a modern impressionist and expressionist). In fact, the total auction revenue from Daqian's works, in 2011 alone, amounted to $506.7 million. This was closely followed by another Chinese, Baishi (1864 - 1957), whose works were traded for $445.1 million.
According to AtInfo, Diaqian and Baishi's rise to prominence has been three years in the making; the journey began the moment the global auction market's centre of gravity shifted east, in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Since then, apparently, the value of works by Chinese modern masters has been rising.
These artists -- Daiqian, Baishi, Fu Baoshi, Xu Beihong and Wang Guangzhong -- were painters active in the modern period, all of whom continued to utilize the techniques of traditional Chinese painting but allowed for innovation in terms of concept and execution.
Meanwhile, American Andy Warhol came third, while Picasso could only manage fourth this time around, in Artprice's list.