The growing affluence of the Chinese has had a global impact and not just in the field of luxury but equally in art. Today, the Chinese art lovers and collectors are aggressive bidders in art auctions around the world. And it is their deep pockets that have pushed up the prices of important art works despite the economic uncertainty prevalent all over the western world. The Chinese art has benefitted the most from the robust growth of the Chinese economy. The most recent indicator of the fact is that a Chinese painting by prominent artist Li Keran fetched a stunning $46 million. It is a record for a work by the artist who died in 1989 and makes it his most expensive painting.
It is a scroll which was painted in 1964. The painting is titled “Wan Shan Hong Bian” which roughly translates as Thousands of Hills in A Crimsoned View. The auction was held by Poly International Auction and the famous painting went under the hammer as part of their Spring sales. The valuable painting depicts lush landscape, however it wasn’t really inspired by nature or someplace the artist had travelled to. Reportedly the painting was inspired by a verse from Chairman Mao Zedong’s famous 1925 poem “Qin Yuan Chun – Chang”: “I see thousands of hills in crimsoned view, the woods piling up in deep dye”.
There are a total of seven versions of this painting. Li painted “Wan Shan Hong Bian” seven times between 1961 and 1964. All the versions are in different sizes. The painting that was auctioned was the largest of the lot. It is 1,31 meters long and 0.84 meters wide. It is difficult for a collector to get their hands on the other versions as three of them are the property of the national Art Museum of China, Chinese Painting Academy and Rongbaozhai respectively. Two of them are in the possession of Taiwanese collectors and the last one is still with the Li family. This auction has given a healthy boost to the value of all the paintings by Li Keran.