Looking for cheap art? Where else but China

You know those innocuous paintings hanging in your average hotel room? Ever think where they came from or who painted them? Well, like most consumer products, in all likelihood they came from China, specifically a village near Hong Kong called Dafen. And they were probably painted by poor–but entrepreneurial–factory workers who dreamed of becoming successful artists in a big city (but never quite got there).

Here are some pictures from Dafen, which looks like a remarkable place. In China, what you’ve got are entire villages popping up that are devoted to manufacturing one single item. In the case of Dafen, it’s your standard Andy Warhols, Gustav Klimts, Manets, Audubons, Da Vincis, etc.

Some of the paintings are a steal. $3 for a hand-painted Vincent van Gogh (sunflowers). Others are a bit more expensive, a $350 sprawling canvas of Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s “The Luncheon of the Boating Party.”

Here are more shots. You’ll have to see it to believe it.