Art Collectors Wake Up To Great Investment Potential Of Contemporary Chinese Photography

Collectors in the West have been buying photography since the 70s, and it regularly appears on the auction block as a valuable investment, but the medium is relatively new to buyers in China. Asked why interest is growing now, CEO of World Photography Organization Scott Gray replies, “It’s a really sexy medium…More and more people are wanting to buy art and with photography you can get something which is immensely collectable by a high profile artist for $50,000.”

Chen Zhuo + Huang Keyi, ‘Chinese Carnival no. 5’, 120 x 180 cm, C-Print Photography

Asian collectors have long been a little ‘suspicious’ of multiples but attitudes are changing. “Photographs can’t just be printed as many times as an artist likes. Editions are capped allowing the works to hold their value,” assures Vanessa Hallett, Senior Vice President and Worldwide Head of Photographs at Phillips auction house.

Growing Places

Not only has demand for the medium spiked but there has also been a rise in the number of contemporary photographers emerging from the greater China region in the last decade. Some artists such as Yan Zhixiong, Chen Zhuo + Huang Keyi and Zhang Huan have established a name for themselves in the West. With their works in major international museum collections and has showed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and the Venice Biennale—all stamps of approval from the art world.

Liu Bolin,’Family Photo’, C-Print Photography
Yu Hang, ‘Deep Red Lips’, 100 x 100 cm, C-Print Photography

In the current contemporary world today, it can be a difficult time for the photography medium because every millisecond there’s billions of images produced every day by everyone. The key issue is, the need for originality when selecting artists to buy. It’s challenging for photographers today to make something fresh and new because everyone can take a photograph and post it quickly on Instagram but it’s also really pushing artists to make the best work they can and do something novel. But are there risks involved for first-time photography collectors? Buy what you are passionate about and learn about your purchase. If you are buying what you love there is no pitfall.