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Visual arts

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Chinese artworks exhibited globally have increased exponentially and many art galleries in China run by foreign curators have actively promoted their artists at art shows in China and abroad. This is amply illustrated, for example, in the growth of the number of galleries in 798 and Caochangdi in Beijing.

In Shanghai, private and public museums such as the Shanghai Art Museum, the Shanghai Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art Shanghai, and galleries such as the Shanghart, Eastlink, and Shanghai Gallery of Art also highlight a vibrant and energetic visual arts scene.  

In China there is a greater focus on auction houses than in the West. These auction houses (see below) often act as primary markets, selling works directly from the artist. This is a practice that has, according to some, created an art market bubble in China. The main art-focused markets are Beijing and Shanghai. In mid-2006 there were estimated to be close to 370 art galleries in Beijing, many of them new. Similarly, there are over 800 commercial galleries in Shanghai, with sixty focusing on contemporary art. Shanghai also has a number of sculpture parks and more than fifty “creative communities” and art districts.  

While the market is generally focused on contemporary Chinese art, there is also a growing interest in foreign art. Interest in foreign art and techniques is nothing new in China—we could turn the clock back to the Qing dynasty during the reign of the Qianlong emperor and the Italian Jesuit court painter Giuseppe Castiglione or the influence of Japanese modernists in the wake of the Meiji Restoration in 1868 on Chinese students who studied in Japan in the early twentieth century—but interest in procuring foreign art has risen in tandem with the emergence of galleries in China and the interest of foreign curators to exhibit and sell foreign art.