Internationally, buyers are favouring large artworks, says The Art Newspaper in an article published in July 2011. We take a look at what reporter Georgina Adam had to say about the trend and then raise the question, Is this happening in Asia?

A general view of the "Il Mondo Vi Appartiene" exhibition at Palazzo Grassi during the 54th Venice Biennale. Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images.

Big spaces for big works

In her article,”Size matters. Why is the work getting bigger?“, Adam notes the presence of very large art works at two key art events for 2011, the 54th Venice Biennale and top contemporary fair, Art Basel. She highlights a recent art market move towards the commission and sale of physically large works, and finds that the penchant of today’s collectors for big works is influenced by the recent growth in gigantic art spaces that are able to house large-scale works, such as The Garage Center for Contemporary Culture in Moscow and the soon-to-be-completed Gehry-designed Guggenheim in Abu Dhabi. These spaces, in turn, represent a means by which the wealthy and powerful are able to acquire and display art as an affirmation of their position, taste and earning potential.

The Garage Center for Contemporary Culture in Moscow.

As mentioned by arts journalist András Szántó on an Art Basel 2011 panel entitled “How Will Museums Be Able to Collect?“,

The size of art also reflects the evolution of domestic, gallery and museum architecture, which is increasingly gigantic, and the emergence of artists in countries such as China or India, where production costs are so low…. Where else but in China could you produce 100 million porcelain sunflower seeds, as Ai Weiwei did for his Turbine Hall installation?

Asia, in comparison with the West, is rich in resources. The manpower, craftsmen, materials and natural resources required to produce large-scale artworks can be acquired cheaply, making the production of massive works more affordable.

One size fits all: Large

A desire to commission and showcase large art has been evident in the plethora of Asian art events that have been held in 2011. A good example is the key commission for ART JOG 11, a giant clay head made up of more than 25 tons of clay and measuring four by four metres that is part of the “Luz” series by Indonesian artist Eddi Prabandono. The large-as-life German Barn by Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, created for the 2011 Singapore Biennale, is another example of “large art” shown in the region.

Work by Indonesian artist Eddi Prabandono. Photo by Reuters/Dwi Oblo.

'Deutsche Scheune' or 'German Barn' by Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, Old Kallang Airport, Singapore Biennale 2011.

Who buys large art?

Large works are selling at Asian art fairs, too. Massive wooden sculptures by Taiwanese artist Li Chen were picked up by an American foundation at the inaugural edition of Art Stage Singapore, held in January 2011, and some large works were sold at ART HK 11, one being Japanese artist Takashi Murakami‘s Open Your Hands Wide, a giant two-panel acrylic-on-canvas painting from 2010 which sold to a European collector.

Click here to learn more about ART HK 11’s sales and here to learn more about sales at Art Stage Singapore 2011.

Asian artists might be making and selling large art in Asia, but it seems that Western, not local, collectors are buying it. In Asia, the collection of super-sized pieces is the domain only of those collectors who own private museums, and thus have the space to store and display their monumental acquisitions. As mentioned by the prominent Indonesian-Chinese art collector, Budi Tek, in a recent article in The New York Times, “I need [a] big space because I have several very large installations,” one of which is Yoshimoto Nara’s Bintang House, a life-size wooden hut with windows.

'Bintang House' by Yoshimoto Nara at Cemeti Art House in Yogjakarta Indonesia. Image courtesy Cemeti Art House.


Related Topics: large art, art spaces, acquisitions, contemporary art collectors

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By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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