Arts and Culture
The Chinese contemporary art market has been emerging rapidly during the past few decades. Unlike most existing studies, this paper approaches the Chinese art market from a sociological perspective. By analyzing articles in influential art magazines published in mainland China in the 1990s, I show how the Chinese art world actors envisioned the local market for contemporary art, which was then in its infancy. The articles described the workings of the “Western” art system, sometimes even by directly publishing translated texts by foreign art professionals, and provided basic advice on commercial activities for artists and curators. Such advice was grounded both in the perceived foreign market conventions and the specificities of the local context. This paper highlights an important early stage of the Chinese art market emergence based on solid historical data. By doing so, it contributes to literature on globalisation of culture and institutions, economic sociological literature focusing on market development, as well as literature on market emergence in China.