The branding of contemporary Chinese art and its politics: Unpacking the power discourses of the art market

Chloe Preece

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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– The purpose of this paper is to examine the branding of the Cynical Realist and Political Pop contemporary art movements in China. The trajectory this brand has taken over the past 25 years reveals some of the power discourses that operate within the international visual arts market and how these are constructed, distributed and consumed.

– A review of avant-garde art in China and its dissemination is undertaken through analysis of historical data and ethnographic data collected in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

– The analysis exposes the ideological framework within which the art market operates and how this affects the art that is produced within it. In the case of Cynical Realism and Political Pop, the art was framed and packaged by the art world to reflect Western liberal political thinking in terms of personal expression thereby implicitly justifying Western democratic, capitalist values.

Research limitations/implications
– As an exploratory study, findings contribute to macro-marketing research by demonstrating how certain sociopolitical ideas develop and become naturalised through branding discourses in a market system.

Practical implications
– A socio-cultural branding approach to the art market provides a macro-perspective in terms of the limitations and barriers for artists in taking their work to market.

– While there have been various studies of branding in the art market, this study reveals the power discourses at work in the contemporary visual arts market in terms of the work that is promoted as “hot” by the art world. Branding here is shown to reflect politics by circulating and promoting certain sociocultural and political ideas.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-44
Number of pages20
JournalArts Marketing: An International Journal
Issue number1/2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Branding
  • Macromarketing
  • Ideology
  • Art Market
  • Contemporary Chinese Art

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