Latest Issue

Private view

Powered by the insatiable demand of the global rich, China's contemporary art scene is booming. What a shame that so much of the work is no good

By Ben Lewis   January 2007

Few stock options have risen twenty fold in value in three years—but the oil paintings of Zhang Xiaogang have. Zhang, aged 48, the leading artist of south China, paints large luminous portraits based on family photographs from the cultural revolution. The glazed look and big pupils of his subjects make them seem ambiguously vulnerable—childish, alienated, zombie-like. The artist says these are images of the dissolution of the individual within the collectives of the traditional Chinese family and communist society. It’s a message that few would miss. In 2003, one of Zhang’s portraits sold for $75,000 at auction. In 2006 it…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect