Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Asia Week New York

A pair of mythical animals
Gilt bronze
China, Han dynasty
Height: 16,8 cm

by Wendy Moonan

A Chinese pure gold cup the size of your hand with engraved handles from the 3rd to 2nd century B.C. A ravishing Indian watercolor of a Rajasthan nobleman riding a white stallion, c. 1710. A terracotta head of a young bearded and turbaned Buddha, 4th-to-6th century, from what is present-day Uzbekistan.

It’s impossible to grasp the wealth of treasures on view (and for sale) during this Asia Week, which runs through Sunday in Manhattan. Scheduled to coincide with the Asian art auctions at Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Doyle and Bonhams, some 50 galleries are open this week with special shows. Dealers from London, Paris and Milan have also come just to show this week. (Listings can be found at two sites: asiaweeknewyork.org and asianartdealersny.com.)
Lot 1288
And important and very rare Gold 'Winged' Cup
Western Han Dynasty, 3rd-2nd Century BC
Estimate: $800,000 - $1,200,000
Christie's New York
Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art Including Property from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections
26 March 2010
The Asian auctions in New York last fall were pretty wild, as collectors and dealers from Mainland China came to buy just about anything Chinese that was made before 1911, when the last emperor fell. “Irrational exuberance” would be an understatement, as men bid up, way up, the prices of even mediocre works of art and furniture at Doyle, Bonhams, Christie’s and Sotheby’s. Those in the trade from the West dropped out of the bidding early on, gasping with astonishment.

Will it happen again?

Probably. There are already dozens of Chinese from the People’s Republic at the auction houses right now, armed with flashlights and magnifying glasses, meticulously examining goods before the sales.
Lot 1064
An extremely rare blackish-brown lacquered
eight-legged table

12th/early 15th Century
Estimate: $60,000 - $80,000
Christie's New York
Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art Including Property from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections
25 March 2010
Lot 168
A Fine and Rare Imperial ‘Zitan’ Stand and Base
Qing Dynasty, Qianlong Period
Estimate: $180,000 - $250,000
Sotheby’s New York
Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art
23 March 2010
The Mausoleum of Shaykh Salim Chisti at Fatepur Sikri, by an Agra draftsman, circa 1820
22 3/4in by 28 3/4in.

Formerly in the collection of the Earl of Dalhousie, Governor-General of India, 1848-56

This Mausoleum, constructed in the 1570s, is the earliest example of pure white marble buildings in Mughal architecture, a forerunner to the Taj Mahal, drawn about 1820 by an Agra draftsman in India.

Oliver Forge and Brendan Lynch Ltd.
What is exciting about touring the individual galleries during Asia Week (many of them normally by-appointment-only) is meeting new young players in the field.

There’s the gorgeous blond dealer Leiko Coyle, who specializes in Tibetan paintings, and her upstairs neighbor at 311 East 72nd, Theresa McCullough, a stylish brunette from England (veteran of Spink and Sotheby’s) who sells Indian and Southeast Asian art from 3,000 B.C. pottery to 19th-century paintings. (“After the collapse of Lehman Brothers, people asked me to sell things for them, so 90% of my stock now is from American collections,” she said.)
8th-9th century
Height: 41 inches (104 cm.)
Head of a Bodhisattva possibly Siddhartha (the Buddha-to-be)
Gandhara region
4th / 5th century
Height: 85cm (33.46")
The above date has been corroborated by Thermoluminescence analysis.
John Eskenazi
Tang Dynasty, A.D. 7th Century
Diameter 5 inches (12.7 cm)
J J Lally & Co. Oriental Art
Other energetic, serious young dealers are Eric Zetterquist, a specialist in Chinese ceramics from the Yuan dynasty, at 3 E. 66th St.; Joe-Hynn Yang, founder of the Chinese gallery Courage & Joy at the same address; Cynthia Volk, a specialist in Chinese ceramics at 212 E. 57th St.; and Martha Sutherland, a specialist in modern calligraphy masterworks at 55 E. 80th St.

Naturally, these younger dealers cannot fully compete with top veterans like John Eskenazi, Kaikodo, J.J. Lally, Doris Wiener, Arnold H. Lieberman, Christian Deydier, and Sydney L. Moss. They simply don’t have the depth in stock.
Actors as Turtles
Color woodblock print
oban tate-e triptych
each sheet approx. 37.5 x 25.4 cm
Sabastian Izzard LLC Asian Art
For example, in fine antique Chinese porcelain, no one can match Ralph M. Chait Galleries at 724 Fifth Avenue. Now celebrating its 100th year, the gallery has a wealth of Chinese export, monochromes, celadon and blue and white wares (along with ancient bronzes).

As usual, the highly respected Jim Lally, at 41 East 57th St., has practically sold out his current show, but hidden among the Chinese ceramics with red dots (meaning “sold”) are a few treasures, including an amazing survivor: a polished bronze “lion and grapevine” mirror from the Tang dynasty (7th century).

In the same building, Sydney Moss of London is showing extraordinary Chinese and Japanese calligraphy, paintings and works of art. As him to roll out a scroll or two.
Nagae Shigekazu
Forms in Succession #1, 2009
Porcelain with white glaze
9 1/2 x 14 x 14 inches
Joan B Mirviss Ltd.
Photo courtesy of Joan B. Mirviss Ltd, NY and Photography by Studio ESSA
Enaka Mugyu (1868-after 1924)
Feng-kan and Tiger
Kaikodo - Asian Art
White Cizhou Ware Petal Jar
Song dynasty, 11th- 12th century
Kaikodo - Asian Art
Across 57th St., Marcus Flacks has a show of exquisite Chinese objects made of Zitan wood, including brush pots, boxes and stands (some of them even affordable).

Just through Tuesday, March 23, Sebastian Izzard has taken over the Ukrainian Institute with the other members of the ultra-exclusive Japanese Art Dealers Association: Leighton Longhi, Erik Thomsen, Mika, Judith Dowling and Koichi Yanagi (they all specialize in pre-modern Japan). On one floor, the dealers collaborated on a show of screens, paintings and objects with a particularly delightful theme: humor in Japanese art (well worth a visit; the Japanese have a ribald sense of humor).
Lot 92
Property from an Important North American Collection
Bada Shanren
Two Mynas on a Rock
Ink on paper
Est. $400/600,000
Sotheby’s New York
Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art
23 March 2010
Giving the Lyrics, 1954, An Ho
Ink and color on paper
Inscription by Zhang Mojun (1883-1965), an important female educator who studied at Columbia University around 1918
68 x 37 1/2 inches
China 2000 Fine Art
Izzard has lent his own gallery at 17 E. 76 St. to the London Gallery for a show of magnificent and rare Korean court celadons from the Koryo dynasty (912- 1392).

Christian Deydier of Paris has a Chinese white stoneware flask in the shape of an ancient leather one from Inner Mongolia, the Liao dynasty, 10th century, and a pair of mythical animals in gilt bronze from the Han dynasty.

Leon Wender of China 2000 Fine Art, 434A E. 75th St., has bold contemporary paintings from such Chinese stars as Anho (born 1927) and He-saibang.

My favorite object there was a particularly fine scholar’s rock with its original Hongmu wood base.
Hosoda Eishi
Courtesan on Parade with Her Kamuro
Hanging scroll
Ink, color and gold pigment on silk
96 x 40.5 cm
Sabastian Izzard LLC Asian Art
Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India. Circa 1710-1720.
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
33 x 24 cm
“How do you judge a scholar’s rock?” I asked.

“You use the same criteria you would for a painting,” Wender said. “Balance between the positive and negative spaces, integrity of the stone and surface qualities.”

Collectors complain there is a scarcity of good material at the top, though you wouldn’t guess that THIS week.

“Most of my clients are dealers,” Lieberman said. “I’ve also sold to every major museum in the world, including the Tower of London, which bought Genghis Khan’s helmet and sword from me.”
Northern Song Dynasty, A.D. 10th-11th Century
Height 6 inches (15.2 cm)
J. J. Lally & Co
A white stoneware flask with handle
Inner Mongolia, or Northern China, Liao dynasty, 10th century
Height : 31 cm (11 ½ in.)
Christian Deydier

Gold and silver with semi-precious stones, colored glass, and pearls
India, Tamil Nadu
19th century
(A) Height: 4 inches (10 cm.)
(B) Height: 5 inches (12.7 cm.)
Lieberman sympathizes with the new players in the field.

“Today it’s very difficult for young dealers because the market is flooded with things that look like something but aren’t anything,” he said.

On the other hand, most of the dealers are feeling optimistic about Asia Week.

“The market is pretty healthy,” said Nancy Weiner, a 25-year veteran who sells classical Indian and Southeast Asian sculpture, silver and gold jewelry from her handsome gallery in the Ansonia, 2109 Broadway. “There is a larger collecting community today than ever.”
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