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Art Space Tokyo: An intimate guide to the Tokyo art world

News, Reviews, Reports

Art Space Tokyo in the Yomiuri Shinbun

A review of Art Space Tokyo was published in the Yomiuri Shinbun today. If the print in the image to the left is too small for you to see, you can read the online version here

It’s a true pleasure to see the book get a positive reception. However, Christoph Mark’s focus on the idea that “investing in art is the domain of the rich” is potentially misleading. Later in the article he says:

“Though unlikely intended by the editors, one message that resonates through many of the stories is that, quite often, the people who run galleries or collect art appear to be those who can afford to.”

Running a gallery is no different to running any other business: you need money and a shrewd mind to do it. And people who buy art are by definition “those who can afford to”, just as food, paperclips, helicopters and Louis Vuitton handbags are bought only by “those who can afford to.”

Certainly, there are people in Tokyo who cannot afford to spend money on art, but the barrier to worthwhile art investment in Tokyo is currently set considerably lower than it is in London and New York. Prices for small works by young artists start as low as ¥20,000 - 30,000 ($200 - 300), and even the big name artists sell for very reasonable prices compared to their peers in Europe, the US and China.

As Mark notes, Art Space Tokyo is meant as “a snapshot of the Tokyo art world as it is now… and may help to better understand the city’s future.” In editing the book, I purposefully did not want to overstate the message that contemporary art in Tokyo is cheap. But it is. In my opinion, the Japanese contemporary art market is a collector’s paradise, full of insanely good bargains.

But it won’t stay this way for ever. When I asked collector Ryutaro Takahashi for his thoughts on future trends in Japanese contemporary art, he replied:

“Speaking in terms of quality versus cost, some Asian collectors have said that works by Japanese artists fetch a mere twenty-five percent of their true value, while Korean artists get fifty percent and Chinese artists are getting one hundred percent.... The talk is that in five or so years, the price-to-quality ratio for artwork in these three countries will equalize. At the very least, we can expect the work of young Japanese artists to grow in value for the next five years.” (p.49)

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A place to keep abreast of Art Space Tokyo related news, reviews, events and updates.

Art Space Tokyo is a 272 page guide to the Tokyo art world produced and published by Craig Mod & PRE/POST.

It was originally published in 2008 by Chin Music Press.

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