AFP/File | Painters like Zhang Xiaogang are leading a new wave of Chinese art superstars
The contemporary art market is booming with Chinese artists helping to push prices up by nearly a fifth in the past year, the world's biggest art index said Monday.
Rocketing prices for living artists have for the first time become the motor of the market, Artprice told AFP.
Nowhere is the trend more marked than in the Chinese-speaking world, with works sold in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan accounting for more than a quarter of the global total.
The record price for an Asian artist was smashed Sunday when the late Zao Wou-Ki's huge abstract triptych "Juin-Octobre 1985" went under the hammer for $65 million (56 million euros) in Hong Kong.
The sum is nearly three times the previous record, also held for a Zao, set only nine months ago for another of his masterpieces, "29.01.64".
Painters like Zhang Xiaogang, Zeng Franzhi and Chen Yifei -- one of whose hyper realistic depictions of melancholic women in traditional dress sold for $22.7 million in December -- are leading a new wave of Chinese art superstars.
"In China one million contemporary artists are living from their work," said Artprice founder Thierry Ehrmann.
"They are coming to dominate the market because of their number, the quality of their work and their sharp critical sense," he added, with sales from China and Taiwan nearing half a billion dollars.