Chinese market fuel art export boom

Japan’s art market is in the midst of a boom with exports at a three-decade high, driven by demand for works by contemporary superstars such as Yayoi Kusama and Takashi Murakami, as well as classical Chinese pieces.

In 2016, the value of art exports rose to 39.6 billion yen ($357 million), the highest in the last 30 years and comparable to the level of imports.

Also popular outside Japan are avant-garde artists of the Gutai Bijyutsu Kyokai group, which was active between the 1950s and 1970s, such as Kazuo Shiraga (1924-2008), who painted with his feet.

Some of those artworks that fetched only several million yen 10 years ago in overseas markets are trading at prices north of 100 million yen.

In March, a record 60,000 people visited the Art Fair Tokyo, one of the largest art fairs in Japan. Twenty percent were from overseas, underlining the recent popularity of Japanese artists.

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