Guo Jian, 52, notified friends on Sunday that he was being taken from his home in Songzhuang, an art colony on the eastern fringe of Beijing, before they lost contact with him.
"My friend, the painter Guo Jian, has been taken away by the police," author Murong Xuecun wrote in a posting on Sina Weibo, a Chinese version of Twitter.
Guo had recently finished a piece of art work showing Tiananmen Square covered in meat.
He spoke to the ABC three weeks ago while working on the piece.
"I mean if the police come in I'll definitely be shaking, but I think it's because I've been through a lot of things like this as well and you get a little bit stronger," he told the ABC.
Curator and critic Yang Wei, who is based in the same Beijing district as Guo, wrote in a Weibo message that Guo's detention was triggered by the meat installation.
Guo "was taken away by police from his Songzhuang studio today because he made a Meat Square installation", Yang wrote in a late Sunday message, adding that the exhibition has not yet opened to the public.
Guo managed to send two short text messages to friends to say he had been taken by police, according to a Sydney Morning Herald report.
It cited a friend, artist Melanie Wang, as saying she was able to reach Guo on the phone briefly. He said police told him he would be released in 15 days.
Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs says it is troubled by the report.
"The Australian embassy in Beijing has contacted Chinese authorities to seek further information on the reported detention of Mr Guo Jian and to underline our strong interest in the matter," a spokesman said.
Human rights groups say more than 50 people have either been detained, arrested or "disappeared" in recent weeks.
The anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre is on Wednesday.