Thanks to duty-free policy, 135 pieces of art valued at more than 1 billion yuan ($136 million) will vie with products, brands, services, technologies and content for the limelight at the upcoming sixth China International Import Expo in Shanghai.
Globally known auctioneers Christie's, Sotheby's and Phillips, by now regular CIIE participants, are expected to wield their gavels as masterpieces by Claude Monet, Henri Matisse and Zhang Daqian will be on display or sale at this year's expo, which will open on Sunday and close on Nov 10.
Pace Gallery, a prominent player in the international contemporary art scene, will make its CIIE debut with two sculptures by US artists Louise Nevelson (1899-1988) and Jeff Koons, 68.
The first batch of artworks to be exhibited or sold at the expo was transported to the CIIE venue — the National Exhibition and Convention Center (Shanghai) — on Monday afternoon after Customs clearances in Shanghai.
About 70 more pieces of artworks, valued at over 70 million yuan, from eight countries and regions are expected to reach the venue in the next three days.
This year, artworks will be showcased at the consumer products section of the CIIE, according to Dai Qian, deputy director of Customs of Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone in Shanghai.
The art section will take up about 3,000 square meters, bigger than in previous years.
It will feature about 20 exhibitors, nine of whom are new participants.
Over the past few years, the art section of the CIIE has developed "from a rising star to an important window for cultural exchanges", said Wang Jiaming, deputy general manager of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone Cultural Investment &Development Co Ltd, the authorized service provider for the CIIE's art and antiques section for the last three years.
"We have been encouraged by the CIIE policy that allows exhibitors to have duty-free transactions for five pieces of artworks," said Shi Yi, deputy director of the Pace Gallery's China office in Beijing. Pace has worked with art institutions and museums in Shanghai to host a series of exhibitions in the past few years, but neither Nevelson nor Koons has had solo exhibitions in the Chinese mainland.
Nevelson's sculptures were exhibited at the 59th Venice Biennale last year. Koons' sculptures depicting everyday objects have had global impact, setting multiple auction records.
"We believe the CIIE is a great opportunity to introduce these important artists to Chinese audiences," Shi said.
Customs' cooperation helped CIIE exhibitors to bring in their art to the expo without any delays in procedures, which is expected to reduce costs and facilitate art transactions, she said.