What's Happening in Asian Art...
July 16, 2018
As we look towards Asia Week New York's tenth anniversary in March 2019, we're also taking a look back at the event's most memorable works of art. This is part 2 of a multi-part series in which we will be showcasing the most important objects sold by our participants over the last decade. Check back here often or subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated. Below, the stories of four incredible objects:
GIUSEPPE PIVA'S RARE SAMURAI ARMOR
An exceptional samurai armor from the Inaba clan
Mid Edo period (1615 - 1867), 18th century
Helmet signed: “Masuda Myochin Minbu Ki no Munesada Saku” and dated: "A lucky day in February in the 7th year of Horyaku" (1757)
Provenance: Iyo no kami Inaba clan
The helmet is made in the style of a Kamakura period kabuto, with an 18 plates rounded bowl showing large protruding rivets. The exquisite parcel giltwood front decoration is shaped as a shachihoko, a mythical creature often represented as protection against fire. The neck guard is covered with a rare horsehair red and white decoration. The cuirass is richly decorated in maki-e lacquer over a black ground, with a red figure of Raijin—the god of Thunder—creating a storm beating his drums among clouds. The same black lacquer is used to cover all the other armor’s parts, except for the helmet’s bowl.
The Inaba family originated in 16th century Mino Province; during the Edo period, as hereditary vassals of the Tokugawa, the clan was classified fudai and its members were appointed daimyō of large and strategic provinces; they also covered various important administrative, political and military roles. Myochin Munesada, who signed and dated the kabuto, is reported to be son of the famous Muneakira; his works are very rare.
The armor was sold by dealer Giuseppe Piva during Asia Week New York 2016 to a private European collector.
A SONG WITHOUT A SOUND AT M. SUTHERLAND FINE ARTS
A Song Without a Sound
Ink on Xuan paper
33.5 x 63 inches
Dealer Martha Sutherland shares some vivid memories below:
I first saw this piece in Jia You Fu’s studio outside of Beijing one hot, sultry summer day. It was one of only several “da hua” that Jia painted over the previous winter. He usually kept one or two very large scale paintings and then did several more slightly smaller versions on a similar theme.
“Song without a Sound” stopped me in my tracks when I entered the studio. Painted only in ink and ink wash with no colored mineral pigments, the composition is like a vortex, spinning within the rocky precipices of a Northwestern Chinese mountainscape, as if you were hypnotized and lured into the scene. The more one studies the brushwork, the more one is amazed at the artist’s control of the layers of ink washes and brushwork.
A new client walked into my gallery during Asia Week New York. Having done his homework, he requested a private appointment for a more relaxed and intimate look at other Jia Youfu pieces in the inventory several weeks hence. When he saw “Song Without a Sound” for the first time, he reacted much like I did in Beijing. I knew then that he would buy it.
M. Sutherland Fine Arts is lucky to still have a handful of pieces by Jia in our inventory. Each year, Asia Week New York turns out more new serious collectors who come to New York from throughout the States, Europe and Asia.
THREE GIANTS AT JOAN B. MIRVISS LTD
Kamoda Shōji (1933-1983)
Slightly flattened ovoid vessel with blue enamel decoration and striped matte black ground
12 1/4 x 9 1/2 x 7 in.
31.3 x 24.5 x 18.3 cm.
Photo by Richard Goodbody
Trevor H. Menders, during an internship at Joan B. Mirviss Ltd, reflected on the gallery's seminal Asia Week New York 2018 exhibition:
Asia Week New York 2018 witnessed contemporary Japanese clay assuming its rightful place as fine art in the American public eye. The transformative 20th-century Japanese ceramists Kamoda Shōji, Matsui Kōsei, and Wada Morihiro featured in our exhibition Three Giants of the North each appeared by both name and image in numerous publications. While these appearances were significant, the biggest victory for the entire field of modern Japanese ceramics comprised two New York Times articles: “Asia Week’s Rare and Unusual Objects for Art Lovers and Collectors” and “21 Art Exhibitions to view in NYC This Weekend.”
In the first, only three works were illustrated: the National Treasure 17th-century screens of Pines by Hasegawa Tōhaku [Japan Society], the second an ancient Tibetan mandala [Asia Society], but the third prominently featured a stoneware vessel by Kamoda Shōji from Three Giants. Modern ceramics were clearly equated with benchmark master paintings from the bygone eras. For us, this was a transformative moment for both East and West.
The second NYT article stated: “the work ranges from religious statuary to textiles, prints and paintings. The collection of ceramics by the excellent 20th-century potter Kamoda Shōji at Joan B. Mirviss is a notable highlight.” Giants appeared as the second exhibition listed, directly following a discussion of a show on modern Brazilian art at MoMA. The same stoneware vessel by Kamoda appeared at the top of the page.
The appearance of works by 20th century Japanese clay artists next to the likes of Momoyama period folding screens or Latin American modernist pioneers has always been an aspiration for us, but never an expectation. Introducing Japanese ceramics to the West has been a process spanning four decades. Having a luminary of modern ceramics appear on the same page as a major MoMA exhibition in the New York Times marks a coming to fruition of this challenge, and a triumphant start to the gallery’s fifth decade.
A VESSEL-SHAPED TABLE AT NICHOLAS GRINDLEY
A jichimu table in the form of an archaic fang ding
China, probably Daoguang (1821-1850)
33 3/4 x 63 5/8 x 19 1/2 in
(85.7 x 161.6 x 49.5 cm)
Rebecca Gardner, manager at Nicholas Grindley Works of Art, writes:
The most unusual item we have shown during the 10 years we've participated in Asia Week New York was the archaic-form table we exhibited in March 2017. This attracted attention from both furniture enthusiasts and archaic bronze collectors alike.
The table, made from jichimu, was in the form of an archaic fang ding, a bronze ceremonial vessel, but was constructed during the Qing dynasty—probably Daoguang 1821-1850. Before we acquired this table, only two other examples of tables of this archaic fang ding form were published, and these might well have been the same table, although the dimensions vary in the two publications. The first was in the catalogue of the Guanfu Museum, Beijing, page 75. The Guanfu Museum is a non-profit museum in the PRC with its main location in Beijing; Ma Wei-Du is the founder and director of the museum. The second was published in Tian Jiaqing’s ‘Classic Chinese Furniture of the Qing Dynasty’ no. 90, page 200, where it is attributed to “Antique Shop, Beijing."
We sold our table to a prominent private collector, who in turn lent it to the Art Institute of Chicago for their exhibition early in 2018, Mirroring China’s Past: Emperors and Their Bronzes.
June 27, 2018
As we look towards Asia Week New York's tenth anniversary in March 2019, we're also taking a look back at the event's most memorable works of art. This is part 1 of a multi-part series in which we will be showcasing the most important objects sold by our participants over the last decade. Check back here often or subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated. To start, scroll down to read the accounts of three of our participating dealers:
ONISHI GALLERY'S "RING OF FLOWERS"
Tokuda Yasokichi III (1933-2009), Living National Treasure
Plate Rinka (Ring of Flowers)
Porcelain with vivid colored glazes (yôsai)
h. 4 x dia. 22 inches
This stunning, vividly colored porcelain piece "Ring of Flowers" by Japanese Living National Treasure Tokuda Yasokokichi III was exhibited at Onishi Gallery during Asia Week New York 2013 and was acquired by The Metropolitan Museum of Art through the William R. Appleby Fund. It is now on view at the Met in the Contemporary Japanese Ceramics gallery.
INTRICATE GOLD EARRINGS AT SUSAN OLLEMANS
A large pair of gold filigree drop earrings from the Silla Period, 6th Century, Korea. Length: 8.7 cm.
Gold earrings were worn by both men and women of the Silla and Gaya elite, and are the most prevalent type of jewelry found in tombs. Goldsmith techniques on display here range from simple hammering to the more complex method of granulation, in which tiny gold beads were adhered to the surface to create intricate designs.
The earrings were sold to the Brooklyn Museum of Art in 2013. Similar examples exist in the collections of the National Museum of Korea in Seoul, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
A DECCANI MINIATURE AT OLIVER FORGE & BRENDAN LYNCH
An Illustration to a Romance Written in Deccani Urdu, the Gulshan-i 'Ishq (Rose Garden of Love) by Nusrati, Court Poet to Sultan 'Ali Adil Shah II of Bijapur (r.1656-72 A.D.):
Angels descend from the heavens to visit a princess
Deccan, India, circa 1700-20
Opaque watercolour on paper heightened with gold and silver
Miniature: 22.3 by 14.4 cm.; 8 ¾ by 5 5/8 in.
Page 39.5 by 23.5 cm.; 15 ½ by 9 ¼ in.
"This painting was bought by an English collector, Mr. and Mrs. Jeremy Lloyd, one of seven offered at Christie’s in 1979," explain the dealers. "In 2010 the Lloyds asked us to sell their collection and, via our Asia Week New York 2011 catalogue, we were able to establish not only the great significance of the manuscript from which the painting comes, but that of this particular painting."
The unique design and palette of this evocative Deccan night-scene painting dramatically contrast the cascade of colour heralding the descent of the angels with the monochrome world of the cool, silent, moonlight-suffused palace. This is probably the finest page from what is unquestionably the finest Deccani manuscript of the period, outstanding for its calligraphy, its superb technical accomplishment and its poetical fantasy. The unpublished colophon (Christie’s, 1979) notes that the work was written by an unnamed author who ‘lived during the reign of ‘Ali ‘Adil Shahi, under whom I grew prosperous’. This would be ‘Ali ‘Adil Shah II of Bijapur (b. 1637) who ruled 1656-72 A.D., although there was no indication of a royal patron for the manuscript.
The painting was acquired by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where it is currently on view in their Islamic Art galleries.
March 21, 2018
For the second consecutive year, a snowstorm has befallen New York City during Asia Week New York—and once again, our fearless dealers opened their doors despite the inclement weather. Here are a few photos they've shared throughout the day!
Suneet Kapoor (left) and Carol Conover of Kaikodo LLC, undeterred by the snow.
BachmannEckenstein | JapaneseArt even decided to offer discounts today—1% off for every inch of snow! And lucky for you, they will be open an additional day tomorrow as their flight back to Switzerland has been delayed.
Lastly, to make sure Scholten Japanese Art remains open, director Katherine Martin is camping out at the gallery during the storm, surrounded by handsome kabuki actors.
March 18, 2018
Above: people and paintings at the opening party for Kaikodo LLC's exhibition "Parallel Lives."
As the sun sets on Day 4 of our 2018 edition, let's take a moment to reflect on these opening days as we gear up for another busy week ahead. Below is a selection of photos taken in and around the galleries.
Asia Week New York got off to a festive start with a cocktail reception hosted by Aman, our 2018 Presenting Sponsor, at the stunning Upper East side residence of interior designer Sandra Nunnerley. Read more about the evening here.
On Wednesday and Thursday, journalists previewed the artwork on offer during our annual press walk—a whirlwind tour of the 40+ gallery exhibitions. Above, a group shot taken at Dai Ichi Arts, Ltd.
James Lally of J. J. Lally & Co. presented his selection of ancient Chinese jade to the press.
On Friday evening, many dealers held opening receptions for their exhibitions. Above, the opening of "Chittaprosad, 1915–1978: A Retrospective" at DAG.
On Saturday and Sunday, all 45 dealers opened their doors to the public for our annual Open House Weekend. Above, the inviting setup at Findlay Galleries.
Our dealers are renowned Asian art specialists with a wealth of knowledge, and are always willing to strike up a conversation with visitors, be they budding enthusiasts or seasoned collectors. Above, Richard Waldman of the Art of Japan (left) and Andrew Kahane.
Competition among dealers can be fierce! Arms and armor specialist Runjeet Singh demonstrates his wares to fellow exhibitor Alexis Renard (rest assured, no one was harmed in the taking of this photo).
Despite relatively low temperatures over the weekend, visitors flocked to the galleries. Above, the well-insulated crowd at Onishi Gallery.
Most exhibitions remain open until March 24, so there's still plenty of time to discover what The New York Times called "Asia Week's rare and unusual objects." See you in the galleries!
March 16, 2018
Asia Week New York got off to a festive start with a cocktail reception hosted by Aman, the Presenting Sponsor of Asia Week New York, at the stunning Upper East side residence of interior designer Sandra Nunnerley. Dressed in their very colorful native garb, Aman general managers mingled with a crowd of collectors, interior designers, journalists, and their loyal Amanjunkies. The highlight of the evening was the surprise raffle that took place and three lucky winners were selected to discover one of the properties. Among the attendees were Ian White, Aman Indonesia; Tapa Tibble, Aman Sveti Stefan, John Reed, Amankora, Sven Van Den Broeck, Amanzoe, Yasuo Mizobuchi, Aman Japan, Donald Wong, Amantaka & Amansara,Serge Ditesheim, Amanyara, Nicolas Pillet, Amanoi. Also in the crowd were Geoffrey Bradfield, Ronald Bricke, James Andrews, Craig Manson, one of the winners of the raffle, Lark Mason, Alex Papachristidis, Philip Thomas, Edith Dicconson, Ritam Bhalla, Christina Prescott-Walker, and Christina Deeny, Marguita Kracht, and Jane Mackie who are part of the Aman marketing team.
Learn more about Aman here.
March 14, 2018
Above: Giuseppe Piva, from Milan, Italy, unpacking boxes and boxes of artwork.
Our dealers are hard at work installing their exhibitions and getting ready to open to the public on Thursday, March 15—take a look behind the scenes:
Unpacking boxes at Tai Modern...
...matting prints at Scholten Japanese Art...
....planning the layout at Findlay Galleries...
...making sure everything is level at Oliver Forge & Brendan Lynch Ltd...
...hanging artwork at Robert Kuo Ltd...
...carefully handling textiles at Alan Kennedy...
...multi-tasking at Tenzing Asian Art...
....installing lights at Michael Hughes LLC...
...working as a team at Kai Gallery...
...adjusting the spotlight on a Lee Ufan work at Littleton & Hennessy Asian Art...
...and setting up gorgeous flower arrangements at Dai Ichi Arts Ltd!
See you tomorrow in the galleries!
March 12, 2018
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January 25, 2018
While most gallery exhibitions are open for all ten days of Asia Week New York 2018, which runs March 15–24, several will not be open every day. And a few will stay open past March 24!
We've created a handy graph with exhibition dates for all 45 participating dealers. If an exhibition is open past the last day of Asia Week New York, the closing date is listed at far right.
Download a PDF of the graph here!
We recommend printing it out and taking it with you while you gallery hop.
December 4, 2017
Perhaps the best online explanation of a Chinese handscroll can be found on The Metropolitan Museum of Art Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History—Dawn Delbanco's beautifully penned description is pasted below:
A significant difference between Eastern and Western painting lies in the format. Unlike Western paintings, which are hung on walls and continuously visible to the eye, most Chinese paintings are not meant to be on constant view but are brought out to be seen only from time to time. This occasional viewing has everything to do with format.
A predominant format of Chinese painting is the handscroll, a continuous roll of paper or silk of varying length on which an image has been painted, and which, when not being viewed, remains rolled up. Ceremony and anticipation underlie the experience of looking at a handscroll. When in storage, the painting itself is several layers removed from immediate view, and the value of a scroll is reflected in part by its packaging. Scrolls are generally kept in individual wooden boxes that bear an identifying label. Removing the lid, the viewer may find the scroll wrapped in a piece of silk, and, unwrapping the silk, encounters the handscroll bound with a silken cord that is held in place with a jade or ivory toggle. After undoing the cord, one begins the careful process of unrolling the scroll from right to left, pausing to admire and study it, shoulder-width section by section, rerolling a section before proceeding to the next one.
To mimic the experience of viewing a handscroll from right to left, scroll all the way to the right first, then use your mouse to slowly move left across the image.
Lo Ping (1733-99)
Dreaming of Retirement at Lou-t'ai, 1774
Handscroll, ink and color on paper
5.2 x 139.2 cm (10 x 54 3/4 in)
Image courtesy of Kaikodo LLC
The experience of seeing a scroll for the first time is like a revelation. As one unrolls the scroll, one has no idea what is coming next: each section presents a new surprise. Looking at a handscroll that one has seen before is like visiting an old friend whom one has not seen for a while. One remembers the general appearance, the general outlines, of the image, but not the details. In unrolling the scroll, one greets a remembered image with pleasure, but it is a pleasure that is enhanced at each viewing by the discovery of details that one has either forgotten or never noticed before.
Looking at a handscroll is an intimate experience. Its size and format preclude a large audience; viewers are usually limited to one or two. Unlike the viewer of Western painting, who maintains a certain distance from the image, the viewer of a handscroll has direct physical contact with the object, rolling and unrolling the scroll at his/her own desired pace, lingering over some passages, moving quickly through others.
Look Forward to Peace, 2012
Ink on rice paper, handscroll
12 x 97 1/2 in
Image courtesy of M. Sutherland Fine Arts
The format of a handscroll allows for the depiction of a continuous narrative or journey: the viewing of a handscroll is a progression through time and space—both the narrative time and space of the image, but also the literal time and distance it takes to experience the entire painting. As the scroll unfurls, so the narrative or journey progresses. In this way, looking at a handscroll is like reading a book: just as one turns from page to page, not knowing what to expect, one proceeds from section to section; in both painting and book, there is a beginning and an end.
Shao Mi (1592?-1642)
The Filial Liu Mourning his Parents, 1631
Handscroll, ink on paper
28 x 87.5 cm
Image courtesy of Kaikodo LLC
Indeed, this resemblance is not incidental. The handscroll format—as well as other Chinese painting formats—reveals an intimacy between word and image. Many handscrolls contain inscriptions preceding or following the image: poems composed by the painter or others that enhance the meaning of the image, or a few written lines that convey the circumstances of its creation. Many handscrolls also contain colophons, or commentary written onto additional sheets of paper or silk that follows the image itself. These may be comments written by friends of the artist or the collector; they may have been written by viewers from later generations. The colophons may comment on the quality of the painting, express the rhapsody (rarely the disenchantment) of the viewer, give a biographical sketch of the artist, place the painting within an art-historical context, or engage with the texts of earlier colophons. And as a final way of making their presence known, the painter, the collectors, the one-time viewers often “sign” the image or colophons with personal seals bearing their names, these red marks of varying size conveying pride of authorship or ownership.
Thus the handscroll is both painted image and documentary history; past and present are in continuous dialogue. Looking at a scroll with colophons and inscriptions, a viewer sees not only a pictorial representation but witnesses the history of the painting as it is passed down from generation to generation.
Delbanco, Dawn. “Chinese Handscrolls.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/chhs/hd_chhs.htm (April 2008)
November 9, 2017
Asia Week New York dealer participant Nicholas Grindley recently published a fascinating article on Chinese toggles on his website, written by Rebecca Gardner and Jane Oliver, and pasted below. Enjoy the read!
One of the most whimsical Chinese objects is the belt toggle, a palm-sized carving in nearly every natural material transformed into a miniature sculpture. Compared to the avid collecting of Japanese netsuke, Chinese belt toggles have been oddly overlooked. No longer the curios of Chinese markets, toggles are becoming rarities that are beginning to catch the eyes of collectors who can appreciate their inventiveness and quirky charm.
Chinese belt toggles, or zhuizi (墜子), are ornaments worn principally by men. Traditional Chinese dress does not have pockets, so small bags for tobacco, pipes, money and other accoutrements were suspended from the belt by cords, counterweighted by the toggle. In other circumstances, the toggle adorns the loop of a tobacco pipe or a woman’s embroidered bag for perfume and medicinal powders. Like the netsuke, the Chinese toggle was devised primarily for function and only achieved its status as a unique accessory over time. These toggles became treasured objects of identity and expression, the wearer selecting toggles that were not only decorative but that had seasonal, magical, medicinal or auspicious connotations. The material chosen and the motif represented were personal statements of style and of symbolic meaning.
Chinese toggles come in an astonishing range of materials—from wood and ivory to seashells, seeds, brass, glass, porcelain, jet, turquoise, amber and jade. Though we might assume that the wealthier would select a precious material such as crystal or jade, wooden toggles have broad significance. Boxwood (huangyangmu) was ideal for the carver. A widely available timber, boxwood is slow growing and has a very fine grain and density, which make it perfect toggle material. Carvers could work in minute detail and add intricate and precise designs without splitting the wood. The choice of boxwood also was dictated by the belief that box, being an evergreen plant, was highly auspicious—evergreens retain their leaves throughout all harsh conditions, surviving hard winters and summer droughts. The Chinese consider boxwood to be the essence of long life, energy and good health, representative of the yang principle in the harmonic structure of the cosmos. Box leaves themselves were used in medicine, and ash from burnt box timber was used medicinally from cooling fevers to helping ease labour pains for women in childbirth. Practically then, a householder wearing a boxwood toggle had his very own first-aid kit.
Each toggle symbolises something, be it the wood itself for good health or for auspicious reasons. The carvings are as varied as their materials—from temples and immortals to longevity fungus, animals of the zodiac, lions, legumes, babies, dustpans and shoes. A toggle in the form of a reed mouth organ, a sheng, is a homophone for sheng, “to rise in rank” or “to give birth”; a water bucket is a homophone for “unite” and “boy,” a fortuitous wish for marital bliss and fecundity. With their infinite possibilities for word play and association, toggles eclipsed their practical purpose and have become successively prized as objects of fascination.
Like ornaments on modern key rings and mobile phones, toggles were important to the wearer but not always to contemporary documentarians. This has made it difficult to trace their histories. Like interest in the netsuke of Japan, scholarly attention to Chinese toggles has been generated by modern Westerners. Caroline Bieber, an American who lived in Peking during the 1920s and 1930s, assembled a comprehensive collection of toggles that she donated to The Field Museum of Chicago. Schuyler Cammann, the curator of Far Eastern Art at the University Museum, Philadelphia, published the Bieber toggle collection in Substance and Symbol in Chinese Toggles (1962), still one of the definitive works in the field. A recent addition to the literature is Margaret Duda’s Traditional Chinese Toggles: Counterweights and Charms (2011). She illustrates a toggle carved with frog and lotus similar to the boxwood toggle we show here dating from the Qing dynasty, 19th century. The toggle has two frogs climbing down one side, a single frog climbing down the other, the underside with lightly incised seed pods and the stem curving over to form a loop for the cord. In discussing the fertility symbolism of the frog, Cammann comments that the Chinese, unlike most Westerners, found the frog an intriguing creature inhabiting two worlds as an amphibian with prolific powers, despite its lack of obvious generative organs (p. 130). Duda adds that the lotus is a homophone for “continuous connection,” implying a blessing for a long line of sons.
Still affordable and with an appealing diversity of subject, symbolism, style and material, Chinese toggles are ideal collector’s objects for those looking, as Schuyler Cammann put it, for “subtle beauty, glimpses of inner wisdom and sheer pleasure.”