Japan’s art market recovers, but unlikely to reach 1980s high

Global Business

Japan’s art market had a turbulent ride over the past few decades and prices are now slowly recovering from the most recent 2008 global financial crisis. While Japanese art sales have risen to more than $30 million in the first half of this year, Japan is not even in the top ten world markets and is unlikely to return to the highs of the 1980s. CCTV’s Mike Firn reported this story from Tokyo.

Japan's art market recovers, but unlikely to reach 1980s high

Japan's art market had a turbulent ride over the past few decades and prices are now slowly recovering from the most recent 2008 global financial crisis. While Japanese art sales have risen to more than $30 million in the first half of this year, Japan is not even in the top ten world markets and is unlikely to return to the highs of the 1980s. CCTV's Mike Firn reported this story from Tokyo.

Photographer Motoyuki Daifu’s “Still Life” exhibition at the Misako & Rosen gallery features photographs of objects on his family’s kitchen table. Daifu’s work sells for around $5,000 each, and is not expensive for Japan, gallery owners Misako and Jeffrey Rosen said.

But despite low prices, they said their exhibitions tend to attract the same regular collectors.

“Certain work is popular among a wider audience, but that’s maybe not an audience of collectors. Maybe an audience of younger people, an audience of any age that has an interest in contemporary art, but aren’t necessarily buying it,” Jeffrey Rosen said.

The Rosens said they’re against affordable art of around $500, because it doesn’t benefit the artists. They said $5,000 for artwork is a good comfort zone for Japanese collectors, but many of those works would be considered too cheap overseas.

“There’s a slight difference between artists popular overseas and artists popular in Japan, even with the same artist. For example, with large works by [Takashi] Murakami, it’s hard for Japanese people to enjoy them in their homes. Japanese buyers tend to prefer smaller works. [Yoshitomo] Nara’s works are small and therefore they are incredibly popular in Japan,” Sotheby’s Japan Deputy Managing Director Ryoichi Hirano said.

Two pieces by Nara sold for around $1.2 million each at an auction in Hong Kong last year.