‘Construction fever’ responsible for one fifth of China’s CO2 emissions

‘Construction fever’ responsible for one fifth of China’s CO2 emissions

Carbon Brief, Josh Gabbatiss


The construction and demolition of buildings in China was responsible for nearly a fifth of the nation’s annual CO2 emissions in 2015, according to a new study.

The world’s largest emitter has seen building rates soar as existing structures are torn down and replaced with skyscrapers to house the nation’s rapidly urbanising population.

All of this comes with a significant carbon footprint, both to produce the cement, steel and other materials required and from the emissions produced once the project is underway.

The researchers behind the new study, published in the Journal of Cleaner Production, say this has not received enough attention in China, despite being an “unignorable and critical” component of the nation’s emissions.

However, other academics Carbon Brief talked to said that while China’s construction “boom” is undoubtedly carbon-intensive, there are “issues” with the methods used in this analysis.

‘Construction fever’

A growing urban population and land scarcity have contributed to significant growth in construction – particularly of high-rise buildings – across China.

Since 2010, China has been responsible for around half of the world’s growth in construction, with many buildings only standing for around 30 years before being demolished. 

Their construction, maintenance and demolition all come with a carbon cost. Previous studies have estimated that the energy consumption of China’s building sector has more than tripled since 2001.

Xinyi Shen from Greenpeace East Asia tells Carbon Brief that, given this, it is not surprising that China’s “construction fever” is a primary driver of its emissions.

However, in the new study, a team led by PhD candidate Weina Zhu of Tsinghua University, make the distinction between “operational” and “embodied” CO2 emissions, emphasizing the need to focus on the latter.

Embodied CO2 is defined in the paper as total emissions from “building materials manufacturing and transportation, building construction, maintenance and demolition”. Operational emissions are those arising from day-to-day energy use – for example, lighting, heating and cooling.

The authors say that operational carbon is generally assumed to be the primary contributor to the sector’s emissions, meaning strategies have focused on improving the energy efficiency of buildings.

However, they say that if China is to hit its climate target of peaking emissions in 2030, it will need to make embodied emissions a priority.

Time lapse showing the development that has taken place in Shanghai between 1984-2018. Source: Google Earth Engine

Bottom-up and top-down

The researchers looked at building activity throughout 2015, a year when Chinese economic stimulus – and the construction it helps drive – was reportedly at relatively low levels.

To estimate the embodied CO2 for construction that year – excluding civil engineering projects, such as bridges and roads – the researchers used two different approaches.

First, they used a process-based assessment. This was a “bottom-up” method that involved working out the total emissions of all the processes feeding into Chinese construction, from chemical reactions in cement factories to machinery used on building sites.

For the second assessment they used an input-output model. This was a “top-down” approach for which the team took national data and isolated the relevant components.

One of the paper’s co-authors, Dr Wei Feng, tells Carbon Brief this is “the first systematic analysis” of China’s embodied CO2 emissions using both of these methods.

Results based on the process approach showed that the embodied carbon in the Chinese building sector for that year was 1,422m tonnes of CO2 (MtCO2), while the input-output method settled on 1,600MtCO2.

Based on the upper estimate, they note this was approximately 18% of total Chinese emissions reported in 2015.

Residential buildings had around twice the emissions cost of non-residential buildings. The study notes how China’s housing has shifted from brick and wood to reinforced concrete and steel high-rise structures.

Crucially, the researchers say their estimate puts embodied CO2 roughly on a par with past estimates of operational CO2.

Dr Francesco Pomponi, an engineer at Edinburgh Napier University who was not involved in the study, tells Carbon Brief this seems more plausible than many other comparisons between operational and embodied CO2:

“Previous assessments we have had suggested 20% embodied, 80% operational or less than that, whereas this study is pointing towards a more realistic picture – about half and half.”

As a comparison, a report from last year by the World Green Building Council concluded 11% of annual global emissions were from carbon embodied in building construction processes. Nearly three times as much came from operational building emissions.

While around 10% of European states’ annual emissions can be traced to embodied building carbon, Pomponi says a value of roughly double this seems accurate for an economy such as China.

“I go every year so I see the difference year after year in how much built stock was added in 12 months,” he says.

‘Red flags’

However, Dr Jannik Giesekam, an industrial climate policy researcher at the University of Leeds who has worked extensively in this area but was not involved in the study, tells Carbon Brief he identified numerous “red flags” in the research.

While he thinks the researchers probably arrived at the right “ballpark figure”, he has “major” issues with the paper that he thinks compromise the results.

One of the key points he identified was that the paper overlooked a lot of pre-existing work on embodied carbon, including databases prepared by industry “in favour of a selective set of case studies”.

He also says the paper does not make a comparison with previous estimates for China or to previous systematic reviews prepared by the likes of the International Energy Agency (IEA).

While acknowledging some of these points as valid, Feng says they chose case studies that reflect current Chinese common practices and that they could not retrieve the relevant emissions data from the industry databases Giesekam suggests. 

“Overall, it would be different and unrealistic to use international emission data and best practices to represent China’s emission in 2015,” he tells Carbon Brief.

For his part, Pomponi says that while Giesekam’s criticism is valid, he sees things “slightly differently”. He says: “I think it’s impossible that a study incorporates everything that’s out there.”

Giesekam also notes what he sees as some unusual choices in the way the researchers carried out the study, including a lack of detail in both their “bottom-up” and “top down” calculations – for example, giving all steel the same “carbon factor”.

Feng says that while they would “love this study to go deeper” and describes his team’s work in this area as on-going, he notes they used a “simple approach” that involved taking averages of steel and cement data:

“That is why we also employ a top-down method to cross-validate the bottom-up method calculation to make sure the total emission results match with each other.”

To this point, Pomponi tells Carbon Brief it is “inevitable to sacrifice depth for breadth in academic research” and says that, while there are certainly issues with the paper, he thinks it is valuable to see different methods being used to assess embodied carbon:

“It’s really good they used two [approaches] and compared them. They are extremely different methods so it’s good that they seem to point to the same number.”

Construction workers on a residential building site in Huaian city, China. Credit: Imaginechina Limited / Alamy Stock Photo.

Cutting embodied CO2

The researchers say that on a global scale, the relatively limited attention paid to embodied carbon is preventing an accurate assessment of the building sector’s environmental impacts.

Dr Danielle Densley Tingley, an architectural engineer at the University of Sheffield who was not involved in the work, says these emissions are generally not given sufficient attention by nations setting climate targets. She tells Carbon Brief this is partly due to the way they are reported:

“They’re often lumped into ‘industrial emissions’. This focuses on the production of the materials – where there are only small efficiencies left to gain – but doesn’t really look at how the materials are then used, what is driving their consumption etc.”

She says better design and a focus on “deep retrofits” instead of demolition would help cut embodied emissions in buildings. Pomponi agrees that design lies at the heart of this issue:

“At the moment we are inefficient in the sense that we put more material than is actually needed into buildings … Firms tend to go with ‘rules of thumb’ or things that worked in the past rather than starting from scratch.”

Measures have been proposed to cut these emissions in some countries. The World Green Building Council has set a target of 40% less embodied carbon in all new buildings, infrastructure and renovations by 2030.

The authors of the new study estimate that, despite a focus on operational carbon emissions in China, the annual potential for reductions in the building sector could actually be larger for embodied than operational CO2.

Greenpeace East Asia’s Shen says that after years of intensive construction the situation is shifting and, going forward, the Chinese authorities are going to have to be “extremely careful” about what they build:

“The country has entered into a new stage of development in that blindly putting up more infrastructure is not only environmentally unsustainable but also will not keep the same investment return the country yielded in the last decades.”

Zhu, W. et al. (2020) Analysis of the embodied carbon dioxide in the building sector: A case of China, Journal of Cleaner Production, doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2020.122438


‘Construction fever’ responsible for one fifth of China’s CO2 emissions

Josh Gabbatiss

Originally published under a CC license by Carbon Brief on 9 June 2020

Published under a CC license. You are welcome to reproduce unadapted material in full for non-commercial use, credited ‘Carbon Brief’ with a link to the article.

your money, your life, your choice ・ Harvard invests in water

‘Because we believe its physical products are going to be in increasing demand in the global economy over the coming decades,”

Harvard Management Co., the Harvard University endowment manager, likes the natural-resources asset class.

In a warming planet, few resources will be more affected than water, as droughts, storms and changes in evaporation alter a flow critical for drinking, farming, and industry.

Even though there aren’t many ways to make financial investments in water, investors are starting to place bets.

“Buying arable land with access to it is one way.

“In California’s Central Coast, ‘the best property with the best water will sell for record-breaking prices,’ says JoAnn Wall, a real-estate appraiser specializing in vineyards, ‘and properties without adequate water will suffer in value.'”

The Harvard Management Co. has, since 2012, been buying agricultural land, with rights to sources of water, on California’s Central Coast. The idea was pitched to Harvard by agricultural investment advisory firm Grapevine Capital Partners LLC, founded by Matt Turrentine, formerly of his family’s Central Coast grape-brokerage business, and James Ontiveros, a local vineyard manager.

Harvard’s investing guidelines say respecting local resource rights are of increasing importance ‘in the coming decades as competition for scarce resources, such as arable land and water, intensifies due to increasing global population, climate change, and food consumption.’”

Investors who see agriculture as a proxy for betting on water include Michael Burry, a hedge-fund investor who wager against the U.S. housing market was chronicled in the book and movie ‘The Big Short.’ In a 2015 New York Magazine interview, Mr. Burry was quoted as saying: ‘What became clear to me is that food is the way to invest in water. That is, grow food in water-rich areas and transport it for sale in water-poor areas.'”

In California vineyards, the water-proxy math is compelling. When grapes are harvested, about 75% of their weight is water. Owning vineyards effectively turns water into revenue.”

Kat Taylor, an environmentalist and wife of hedge-fund billionaire and liberal activist Tom Steyer, resigned earlier this year from Harvard’s board of overseers in protest of the endowment’s investments in things such as fossil fuels and water holdings she says threaten the human right to water.

‘It may, in the short run, be about developing vineyard properties,’ she says of Harvard’s California investments. ‘In the long run, it was a claim on water.'”


Harvard Amasses Vineyards – and Water. A bet on climate change in California gives it agricultural land and the rights below it,” Russell Gold, The Wall Street Journal, 11 December 2018

In Drought-Stricken Central California, Harvard Hopes to Turn Water Into Wine,” Eli W. Burnes and William L. Wang, The Harvard Crimson, 13 April 2018

Michael Burry, Real-Life Market Genius From The Big Short, Thinks Another Financial Crisis Is Looming,” Jessica Pressler, New York Magazine, 28 December 2018

your money, your life, your choice ・ the painting that did not sell

The painting that did not sell.

While there may be a well-established “cartel of taste” (see Anna Louie Sussman’s article “Why You Can’t Always Buy a Work of Art Just Because You Have the Cash,” @artsy, 12 December 2018), market stakeholders can and sometimes do display independent judgment.

Gerhard Richter’s “Schädel” (oil on canvas), the first of a series of eight skull paintings painted in 1983, was held in the same collection for 30 years after a last public exhibition in 1988.

Based on a photograph taken by Richter himself, the painting demonstrates a “dialogue between painterly abstraction and photo-realist representation that had been simmering across separate stands of Richter’s practice for nearly two decades.”

This painting led the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale held at Christie’s London on 4 October 2018.

With an unpublished estimate, the painting was expected to sell for between £12 and £18 million (US$15 – US$23 million).

Bidding reached £11.5 million. The painting was not allowed to change hands.

Note also the instance of Edward Hopper’s 1972 painting, “Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)” that sold at Christie’s in New York on 15 November. It closed narrowly, at what may have been a precisely agreed threshold of $80 million – with what appeared to be Christie’s bidding against itself to reach the sales price.


Why You Can’t Always Buy a Work of Art Just Because You Have the Cash,” Anna Louie Sussman, Artsy, 12 December 2018

Seen for the first time in 30 years: Gerhard Richter’s ‘Schädel’ (‘Skull’),” Christie’s

Gerhard Richter ‘Skull’ to Headline Christie’s Sale in London,” Fang Block, Barron’s, 4 September 2018

Rare Richter’s a Bust, but Christie’s Moves $25.9 M. Bacon, $21 M. Fontana at London Sales,” Judd Tully, Artnews, 4 October 2018


collections care & engineered resilience

As the markets for works of art, collections care, and engineered resilience in the built environment (private collections, museums – public and private, galleries, fairs, corporate and university collections, etc.) converge, renewable energy will be a factor.

“Underlying property increases in value by virtue of the fact that positive externalities associated with the performance of the resilience investments represents a superior outcome to the status quo – even when netted out by any costs.” (Keenan et.al.)

Companies have signed long-term contracts to purchase solar and wind energy in 28 markets.

Cost declines and efficiency improvements are making renewables cost-competitive with wholesale power prices of more traditional sources of electricity.

While larger corporations are entering into corporate power purchase agreements (PPA),

smaller companies are increasingly pooling electricity demand together to access economies of scale achieved through solar and wind projects.

This is called “aggregation.”

“Aggregation” might be a workable model for entities in the art market concerned about the long-term resilience of structures and care and value of works and collections.

See: 1) Jesse M. Keenan, Thomas Hill, Anurag Gumber, “Climate Gentrification: From Theory to Empiricism in Miami-Dade County,” IOPScience, 23 April 2018; 2) “Corporations Already Purchased Record Clean Energy Volumes in 2018, and It’s Not an Anomaly,” Bloomberg New Energy Finance, 9 August 2018


#art #artmarket #museum #privatemuseum #collection #contemporaryart #energy #co2 #wind #solar #renewableenergy #resilience #resilienceengineering #architecture #design #engineering #NewYork #Miami #LosAngeles #London #Paris #Amsterdam #Stockholm #Oslo #Berlin #Vienna #Dubai #HongKong #Shanghai #Beijing #Tokyo #Delhi #realestate

Art Basel ・ Joan Mitchell

Reports from this year’s Art Basel indicate how well the works of artist Joan Mitchell (1925-1992) are performing.

Joan Mitchell’s “Composition” of 1968, is reported to have been sold by gallery and dealer Hauser & Wirth to a European collector for $14 million.

Marion Maneker of Art Market Monitor suggests the “sale was arranged before the fair and concluded upon viewing.”

Nate Freeman of Artsy reports the following market-oriented observations:

“‘It was obviously a time for a correction in perception, and in price, for her – as with a lot of women.'”

Iwan Wirth, co-owner, Hauser & Wirth

“‘When you have a strong market force, the prices change – shortly, we’re going to see $20 million to $30 million Mitchells.'”

Brett Gory, co-founder, Lévy Gorvy

Gorvy observes that Mitchell (who spent much of her life in France) has long been collected by the Germans and Swiss.

“‘The new interest is everywhere else – we’ve been showing her in the Basel art fair for years…. There’s a hunger in the market. She’s being recognized as one of the greatest Abstract Expressionists, and it helps that now there’s all this interest in art made by women.'”

Howard Read, gallery co-owner, Cheim & Reid 

“‘I think they could be $30 million or $50 million. If Franz Kline can be, why not Joan Mitchell?'”

John Cheim, gallery co-owner, Cheim & Reid



At Art BaselOpening, a Pair of $14 Million Joan Mitchell Sales Shows Surge in Market for Women Artists,” Nate Freeman, Artsy, 12 June 2018;

Art Basel Sales Report,” Marion Maneker, Art Market Monitor, 12 June 2018


#art #artmarket #artbasel #joanmitchell #abstractexpressionism #contemporaryart #postwarart #collection #collector #collectionsmanagement #newyork #london #zurich #vienna #oslo #amsterdam #dubai #hongkong #seoul #tokyo #luxury #architecture #design #realestatedevelopment

Hans Hofman ・pictorial space & the hidden inherent laws of the picture surface.

Across time, space, and generations, the magic and spirit of Hans Hofmann, teacher to many, continues.

A composition of warm and vivid hues, geometric blocks of color, a surface that is rich in both visual and textural details, highlighting the materiality and thickness of the paint and the flatness of the canvas.

“Into Outer Space,” Hans Hofmann (oil on panel, 1957), at the Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA (Gift of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., 1971)

Action painter? Abstract expressionist?

“While critic Robert Coates first used the term Abstract Expressionism in his review of Hofmann’s 1946 solo exhibition at the Mortimer Brandt Gallery in New York, histories of postwar American art, have always focused on the youth, vitality, and uniquely American experiences of the generation of artists who matured in the 1940s.”

Lowery Stokes Sims, former Curator of 20th Century Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and organizer of the exhibition of 1999, “Hans Hofmann at the Metropolitan Museum of Art“.

Hofmann does not fit the narrative of such postwar histories. Born in 1880, Hofmann immigrated to the US from Germany in 1932 when in his fifties, developing a new style and creating a whole new body of work in his seventies and eighties.

During the course of his life Hofmann was a contemporary of and acquainted with Picasso, Braque, Matisse, and the Delaunays (both husband and wife). He had a lifelong interest in nature, science, music, poetry, and science. He crossed more significant barriers, national and aesthetic, than almost any other twentieth-century painter.

He was never a follower, nor an expressionist, fauvist, a cubist, or a surrealist.

I am often asked how I approach my work,” Hofmann wrote in 1962 on the importance of the act of painting.

“Let me confess: I hold my mind and my work free from any association foreign to the act of painting. I am thoroughly inspired and agitated by the actions themselves which the development of painting continuously requires….This seems simple but it is actually the fruit of long research”

H. Hofmann, “Hans Hofmann on Art,” in Art Journal, Vol. 22, Spring 1963, p. 18; quoted in Lot Essay, Hans Hofmann, “Auxerre,” Lot 36B, Christie’s, Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale, New York, 13 May 2015

William Chapin Seitz, the first scholar to receive a PhD from Princeton University in the field of modern art (it took him more than a year to convince the Princeton art history graduate committee that the work of living artists was a topic worthy of graduate study) and formerly Associate Curator of Painting and Sculpture Exhibitions at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, organized the 1963 MoMA exhibition, “Hans Hofmann”.

Dr. Seitz observes,

“When one looks back at the years after 1945, when the “New American Painting” was taking form, it is apparent that one of its aesthetic determinants was the desire felt by many artists to incorporate in their work tendencies of style and feeling previously thought to be contradictory. Both the temper of Hofmann’s mind and his supranational development led him in this direction.”

It has been said that Hofmann is an “automatic” painter; he has also been called an “action painter” because of his direct enactment of emotional content. Yet his automatism has never been mere psychic catharsis, his activity is never purely physical, and his fury, like his delicate lyricism, is that of nature as well as himself. And even in the most passionate of his works the adjustment of formal relationships can be as precise as in the compositions of Mondrian or Malevich.”

Hofmann admired Mondrian for the purity of his abstract structure. He admired Kandinsky — whom he once called an “anti-plastic” painter — for his automatism and fluid color.

The architectural basis of his own painting derives from a study of Cezanne, and from cubism, yet (at least in his representational paintings).

By synthesizing such diverse materials, Hofmann developed his own metier: the unhampered autonomy of lines and planes; the elevation of color to a primary means; the maintenance of clear “intervals” between color planes; the preservation of physical gestures in pigment. He cast aside the dross of systematic perspective, tonal modeling, literature, and illusionism.”

Hans Hofmann with selected writings by the artist,” William Chapin Seitz, The Museum of Modern Art, 1963

Believing in the innate integrity of the pictorial space, Hofmann theorized the “push and pull” within a painting, describing how he used balance and contrast between colors and forms to create pictorial dynamism. Rejecting the traditional practice of creating depth through graduations of tone, Hofmann created space without denying the flatness of the picture’s surface.

Hofmann wrote in a late essay,

“Pictorial space is an aesthetically created space and is as such as real as nature. Its reality is based on the reality of the hidden inherent laws of the picture surface.”

H. Hoffman, quoted in S. Hunter, Hans Hofmann, New York, 1963, p. 44.


Hans Hofmann with selected writings by the artist,” William Chapin Seitz, The Museum of Modern Art, 1963.

Hans Hofmann,” September 11 – December 1, 1963, The Museum of Modern Art

William C. Seitz: Defending the Modern,” The Museum of Modern Art

Hans Hofmann at the Metropolitan Museum of Art,” April 13 – October 17, 1999,

Hans Hofmann at the Metropolitan Museum of Art,” exhibition catalogue, Lowery Stokes Sims, 1999.

“Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale,” Lot 36B, Hans Hofmann’s “Auxerre,” Christie’s, New York, 13 May 2015, Lot Essay

“Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale,” Lot 20B, Hans Hofmann’s “Lava,” Christie’s, New York, 15 November 2017, Lot Essay

#art #artmarket #arthistory #history #hanshofmann #science #physics #pictorialspace #modernart #postwarart #contemporaryart #picasso #braque #delaunay #matisse #mondrian #malevich #jacksonpollock #actionpainting #abstractexpressionism #met #metropolitanmuseumofart #moma #museumofmodernart #christie’s #germany #newyork #sanfrancisco #london #berlin #oslo #vienna #milan #dubai #hongkong #seoul #tokyo #architecture #design #luxury #urban #urbanliving #realestatedevelopment

“Let’s create some strange and weird things.” – 元永 定正

Let’s create some strange and weird things.” – Motonaga Sadamasa

Sadamasa Motonaga (元永 定正, 1922-2011), a founding member of Japan’s post-World-War-II crucible of abstraction, the Gutai Art Association (具体美術協会 Gutai Bijutsu Kyōkai), reaffirmed the Gutai artists’ use of “all possible techniques and materials in their creations”.

Motonaga mastered the use of spray painting techniques while in New York on a grant from 1966 to 1967.

In the 1970s he created lively and varied two-dimensional images, a modern take on the Ukiyo-e characteristics of Japan’s Edo period, selecting organic and mobile qualities, some from everyday life, as visual elements.

The artist once observed how

“this type of form and colour execution is inspired by nocturnal views from Mount Rokko near the city of Kobe, Japan.

“The neon light that outlines the mountains’ contours appears as if in a dreamscape and renders an effect of motion.

“The painting style of hard-edged, clear flowing lines in a twisting form exhibits a human-like appearance but has the dynamics of water, like a coiled up or continuously rotating and extending organism that leads the viewer’s gaze to wander along the arc of the curve.”

Sadamasa Motonaga’s “Tapa Tapa” sold at Christie’s Hong Kong in November 2015 for nearly five times the high estimate.

Explore the work of Sadamasa Motonaga during this week’s Art Basel at Natalie Seroussi and at Tokyo Gallery+BTAP (Beijing Tokyo Art Projects) (東京画廊+BTAP).


See: “Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art (Evening Same),” Lot 35, “Tapa Tapa“, Christie’s Hong Kong, 28 November 2015.



#art #artmarket #arthistory #sadamasamotonaga #gutai #japan #tokyo #kobe #mountrokko #natalieseroussi #tokyogalleryBTAP #contemporaryart #abstraction #collection #collector #newyork #london #oslo #vienna #milan #dubai #asia #hongkong #artadvisory #artconsultancy #interiordesign #design #architecture #realestatedevelopment

Liu Wei (劉韡): “Sandwiches No. 13” (oil on canvas, 2015)

Born in Beijing in 1972, Liu Wei (劉韡) graduated from the National Academy of Fine Arts, Hangzhou in 1996.

Manhattan-, Hong Kong-, and Seoul-based gallery Lehmann Maupin describes 劉韡‘s work:

Liu Wei “explores 21st century socio-political concepts such as the contradictions of contemporary society and the transformation of developing cities and the urban landscape.

“In many of his sculptural and installation works, he uses found materials that are re-contextualized to draw new meanings out of the materials from which they are made.”

Liu Wei’s works are exhibited and collected globally. Institutional and private collectors include Seoul’s Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art; the M+ in Hong Kong, and the Rubell Family Collection in Miami.

Examine Liu Wei’s entire œuvre. This work documents an eye and sense for the universal appeal of line, color, and composition.

Lehmann Maupin is highlighting Liu Wei’s work during this week’s Art Basel.

Look for the extraordinary “Library V-II” (books, wood, and iron) of 2015-2018.

See: Liu Wei, Lehmann Maupin

#art #artmarket #arthistory #liuwei #beijing #hangzhou #lehmannmaupin #newyork #miami #london #berlin #zurich #vienna #oslo #milan #dubai #hongkong #seoul #tokyo #collection #portfolio #tangibleasset #collector #leeumsamsungmuseumofart #leeumsamsung #M+ #rubellcollection #architecture #design #interiordesign #fashion #urban #urbanliving #modernization #luxury #line #color #abstraction #realestatedevelopment

Liu Wei (劉韡): “Sandwiches No. 13” (oil on canvas, 2015)

Born in Beijing in 1972, Liu Wei (劉韡) graduated from the National Academy of Fine Arts, Hangzhou in 1996.

Lehmann Maupin describes 劉韡‘s work:

Liu Wei “explores 21st century socio-political concepts such as the contradictions of contemporary society and the transformation of developing cities and the urban landscape.

“In many of his sculptural and installation works, he uses found materials that are re-contextualized to draw new meanings out of the materials from which they are made.”

Liu Wei’s works are exhibited and collected globally. Institutional and private collectors include Seoul’s Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art (리움 삼성미술관); the M+ Museum for Visual Culture in Hong Kong; and the Rubell Family Collection in Miami.

As you research Mr. Liu’s work, examine his entire œuvre. This work documents an eye and sense for the universal appeal of line, color, and composition.

Lehmann Maupin will highlight Liu Wei and his work during next week’s Art Basel in Basel 2018.

Look for the extraordinary “Library V-II” (books, wood, and iron) of 2015-2018.

Lehmann Maupin, by the way, with a gallery in both Manhattan and Hong Kong and a space in Seoul that is open by appointment, is doing superb work.

See: Liu Wei, Lehmann Maupin

Zao Wou-ki’s “29.01.64” (oil on canvas, 1964)

abstraction | a kind of inner imaginary landscape

The grand and bold “29.01.64” (the date of its completion; oil on canvas) sold at Christie’s Hong Kong in May 2017 for $19.7 million, then an auction record for the artist, “to bidders who clearly wanted this picture.”

Zao Wou-ki (1920-2013) moved to Paris from Beijing, where he was born, in 1948, began working with New York dealer Samuel Koontz (who encouraged him to experiment with larger formats) in 1956, and took a larger studio in the Montparnasse neighborhood of Paris in 1961.

Christie’s Paris’ specialist Clara Rivollet highlights the very complex composition:

“There’s actually a structure of very deep, black brushstrokes an then you can see around a kind of dilute-ink-wash-like oil around it and then on top of it he adds a whole network of intricate lines.

“You have very controlled sinuous lines that remind us of Chinese calligraphy. But also this very kind of loose movement in white paint is very inspired by Jackson Pollock’s painting.

“The painting could be a Western painting because it’s abstract. But actually in its essence it remains very Chinese because for Zao Wou-ki abstraction always represents a kind of inner imaginary landscape like the Chinese literati painting would do.”

“29.09.64”, at 230 x 345 cm. (90 1/2 x 135 7/8 in.), is one of the two largest that Zao painted in the 1960s.

It was purchased directly from the artist in 1969 by a French architect who built hospitals, research centers, and administrative buildings throughout France and Algeria in the years of rapid modernization following World War II.

“29.09.64” remained in the family’s collection for 48 years. The original owner’s son consigned the painting to Christie’s.

In an early 2017 exhibition, New York gallery Lévy Gorvy paired the works of Willem de Kooning and Zao Wou-ki. A little boost to the market?



  1. An inner, imaginary landscape: Zao Wou-ki’s ‘29.09.64,” Christie’s
  2. Contemporaries: Voices from East & West / Asian 20th C. and Contemporary Art,” lot 4, Christie’s HK, 27 May 2017;
  3. Zao Wou-ki’s 29.09.64 Sets Record in Hong Kong with $19.7m Sale,” Marion Maneker, Art Market Monitor, 29 May 2017.



#art #artmarket #zaowouki #arthistory #contemporaryart #postwarart #paris #france #newyork #abstraction #abstractexpressionism #jacksonpollock #literatipainting #songdynasty #oiloncanvas #inkonpaper #calligraphy #hongkong #beijing #berlin #vienna #milan #dubai #algeria #africa #realestatedevelopment #architecture #design #luxury #christie’s #LévyGorvy