Asia Art War?


I was passed this by our editor who assured me the headline wasn’t unnecessarily sensationalist, but actually a good read for anyone interested in the Asian art world.

Art Wars: Hong Kong vs. Singapore‘ in The Wall Street Journal says categorically that there is indeed a major struggle-for artistic supremacy at least-between the two East Asian metropolises. Alexandra Seno starts by highlighting the ambitious goal behind this alleged art race: ‘Longtime rivals in trade and finance, Hong Kong and Singapore are vying to become Asia’s regional arts hub, part of a strategy to be crowned Asia’s top city.’

Apparently, an integral piece of the puzzle for the making of a ‘super-competitive, super-productive’ top city is a ‘world-class arts and culture scene.’ Seno ends up suggesting that the battle could go either way. Combined with what I read in an article in Newsweek (‘Asians Open Their Wallets) last month, I tend to agree that there’s no clear front-runner.

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Hong Kong has recently become Christie’s top point of sales for jewellery, and it appears that both Christie’s and Sotheby’s, the global bigwigs of the auction scene, have moved some of their operations out of Singapore and set up house in Hong Kong instead. But Singapore still has some tricks up its sleeve, including the opening of FreePort next year–a free-trade zone and high-security storage area for valuables including wine, cigars, diamonds, and artwork.

Nonetheless, and differences put aside, Asia is quickly increasing its clout in the world’s art scene. Asian buyers filled all but 1 of the top 10 lots at a recent Sotheby’s auction in New York, and 14 of 20 top slots at a recent Christie’s. So why the big rivalry? Can’t we just all get along?

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