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Contemporary Japanese Artists Set New Records at Hong Kong Art Auction

2018.05.21

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Kusama Yayoi, Pumpkin, 1998 (30.5 × 27 × 20.5 cm. Winning bid: 5.88 million HKD (about 80 million JPY) © Sotheby’s

This spring, auction results are revealing the increasingly secure position of contemporary Japanese artists among collectors. At the Contemporary Art Evening Sale held by Sotheby’s Hong Kong earlier in March, all eight pieces by Japanese artists put up for auction were sold for a total value of 390 million HKD (around $49 million US). At the Day Sale the following day, all 33 of the pieces by Yayoi Kusama on offer were sold, and Kusama and Yoshitomo Nara accounted for an astonishing nine of the ten highest winning bids in the auction.

Works by Yu Uemachi and Tomoo Gokita also set new price records for those artists, reflecting increased interest in art from Japan.

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Tomoo Gokita, Night In Tunisia, 2015 (162.6 × 129.5 cm). Winning bid: 2.125 million HKD (about 29 million JPY) © Sotheby’s

Yuki Terase, Head of Contemporary Art, Asia for Sotheby’s since January this year, said, “at this auction we saw strong interest in Japanese artists among customers not just from Asia but from around the world. From postwar icons like Kazuo Shiraga, Toshimitsu Imai, and Yoshishige Saito to artists still active around the globe today like Yayoi Kusama, Yoshitomo Nara, and Tomoo Gokita, customers bid on works from a wide range of periods—a result symbolic of the increasingly secure position of Japanese artists in the Hong Kong contemporary art market.”

On the occasion of her appointment in January, Terase said, “with the contemporary art market at a rare inflection point, I look forward to using Sotheby’s global network and superior specialist knowledge to provide collectors with the finest experiences as they expand their holdings.” These latest results show that we are indeed at a key moment for contemporary art by Japanese artists.

Art—particularly contemporary art—can seem intimidating at first, but artists like Yayoi Kusama and Yoshitomo Nara have found enormous audiences worldwide. Why not dig more deeply into the world of Japanese contemporary art and learn more about what has the rest of the world excited?

 

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