The opening night of the International Asian Art Fair
A passing hat at last night's International Asian Art Fair. 7:30 PM. Photo: JH.

Another beautiful sunshiny day in New York with temperatures reaching into the mid-60s and the pear trees beginning to blossom. 

Last night was the opening night of the 11th annual International Asian Art Fair at the 67th Street Armory on Park Avenue. The gala evening benefited the Asia Society which is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year. The Gala Chairmen for the evening are Baron and Baroness Andreas von Zadora-Gerlof. Benefit Chairmen are Miranda Wong Tang, and Lulu Wang. Honorary Chairmen are Payal and Rajiv Chaudhri, Gina and David Chu, and Sir Deryck and Lady Va Maughan. Co-chairs are Gina and David Chu, Polly and John Guth, May Liang and James Lintott, Yoko Makino, Marie-Chantal and Robert W. Miller, Ruth and Harold Newman, Carol A. Irish and Dan Strone, and Jack and Susy Wadsworth. Vice Chairmen are Carolyn Hsu-Balcer and René Balcer, Amita Chatterjee, Inger McCabe and Osborn M. Elliott, Nigel Greig, Lisina and Frank Hoch, Ann and Gilbert Kinney, Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon B. Polsky, Heather and W. Fifield Whitman, and Ingrid Elizabeth Yonke. The Young Patrons Committee Chairmen are Fabiola Beracasa, Coralie Charriol, Rachna Khosla, and Susan C. Shin.

This fair was launched in 1996 by its directors, Brian and Anna Haughton, as there was marked increasing interest in Asian art, especially in the United States.  Enough time has passed that it is largely forgotten how phenomenal this interest in Asian art is.  History will probably record that the great cultural transition, the milestone, was Nixon’s visit to China in 1972. 

Paola Isabella Tornito's perfectly set hair

Only the most visionary would have forseen this amazing cultural integration.  The United States was at war in Viet Nam at the time of Nixon’s visit. The ultimate enemy in the official explanations of this war at the time was The People’s Republic of China, or Red China.  There is now a whole generation of American young adults who never really had a sense (or a fear) of China that was inculcated in those of us of previous generations.

The International Asian Art Fair is a cultural/ commercial treatise to all this history. It has a distinctly different feel from any of the other major art and antiques shows that also visit the Armory venue. The Asian influence, the Asian spirit, the Asian sensibility is very apparent as soon as you enter the great room.  Preview night is especially charming because many are dressed in both ancient and modern Asian costume.  And it is all very elegant, and yet serenely understated even at its most decorative.  Paola Isabella Tornito whose picture is on these pages told me that her Japanese dress was made for her by Jean Paul Gaultier in Paris.  And her hair was perfectly set and wrapped and accessories in the authentic Japanese style.  Mme. Tornito who is, I believe Phillippina, is often photographed at the ballet and the opera in dresses in the Madam Marcos style.

At The Chinese Porcelain Company’s booth, JH photographed a pair of Tang dynasty (late 7th - early 8th century) pottery figures.  Beautiful, astonishing more than fifteen centuries old and in spectacular condition. $175,000 the pair. There was also a screen made centuries ago for a general, as a tribute to his service. The backside of this highly polished several paneled screen is all Chinese calligraphy noting the general’s military achievements. “A piece for a museum,” said the Chinese Porcelain’s Pierre Durand. I’m hopeless at describing why this piece was so beautiful because it just was.  Again, elegance, astonishing chic is how the late Mrs. Vreeland might have described it.

We stopped by Goedhuis Contemporary booth. We saw Mr. Goedhuis who was showing among other paintings and sculpture, a large contemporary Buddha.  The last time we saw Mr. Goedhuis (who has galleries, in New York, London and Beijing) was at the Art and Antiques Show we covered in Palm Beach last February.  He had another contemporary Buddha there that JH photographed him standing next to.  He told us last night that he sold that Buddha in Palm Beach right after JH took the picture. 

It was through Mr. Goedhuis’ exhibition at Sotheby’s a few years ago where I was first exposed to contemporary Chinese art. I wrote about it in these pages at the time. Very contemporary and yet, again, the sensibility has a different rhythm from the Western culture. Again, the serene elegance – along with all the other elements of the human condition.

Paola Isabella Tornito
Nicole Lin
Christine Park

These Armory shows on Preview Night always have very creative and tasty buffets set up in junctions midway to the end of the aisles.  Last night’s menu was, of course, Asian and its biggest, most determined (and perhaps famished) visitors were mainly non-Asian faces.  Again, an example of the cross-cultural pollination that this Art Fair represents.

JH devoted a lot of his lens time to the Asian costumes because there were enough of them to become commonplace to this Western eye.  Again, the elegance, the complex elegance, and beauty. And the discipline in the design.  Everyone loved it and reveled in it.

So the show was a combination of exhibits of great Asian art and antiques, glamorously, even covetously presented in abundance, and the women (and some men) in the costume of the cultures, floating through the aisles, the winds of change caressing our Western sensibilities in this world that is growing smaller and smaller by the moment.

Sue Hosletter and Jon Diamond
Ann Rapp and Heather Cohane
Yuriko Kuchiki
Linda Janklow
Sandra Long
Irene Aitken
Iris Love
Nicholas Platt
Chris Mason and Virginia Coleman
Ruth Newman and Anna Ivara
Tulip displays along the aisles of the show
Sheila and Alexandra Kotur
Letizia Herion and Phoebe Donham
Maie-Lee Chen and Diane Woo
Freddie and Carole Guest
Charu and Bunty Bohra
Evelyn Tompkins
Joan Ai and Peter Chen
Sera Kil, Ed Park, Kelly Tang, Hamburg Tang, Sally Bednar, Alex Daniels, Junko Chou, and Jackson Chou
John Foster, Gina Chu, Shamina Talyarkhan, Tom Moore, and Chandru Ramchandani
Pierre Durand
Lea Sneider Gallery
Michael Goedhuis standing next to Li Chen's All in One
Robert Winter, Antique Japanese Armour & Works of Art
Top: Marie Pineda, Katsumi Miki, and Yuko Makino.
Above: Madame Desai and Paola Isabella Tornito.
Kati and Richard Holbrooke with Laurence Whittemore and Gioia Frelinghuysen
Sandra Eu and Helen Little
Nancy Suong
Byung Kang and Su Hyun Bae
Deepak Talwar, Kanchi Mehta, Bunny Batliwala, and friend
Christian Deydier (President of the Syndicat National des Antiquaires) and Harriet Weintraub
Cedric Curien Art Asiatique
Denise, Larry, and Jocelyn Wohl
Michel Witmer
Payal and Rajiv Chaudhri
Brian Haughton
Anna Haughton, Tuyet Nguyet, Drs. Feng-Chun Ma, and Erick Schiess
Exiting the fair

March 31, 2006, Volume VI, Number 54
Photographs by Jeff Hirsch/


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© 2006 David Patrick Columbia & Jeffrey Hirsch/