New York, NY (April 2011): Collectors, curators, scholars and Asian art enthusiasts from around the world convened for Asia Week New York 2011 in March—nine days of exhibitions, private sales, public auctions, special events and fund-raising—spending more than $250 million on Asian art. Complementing Asian exhibitions at 18 New York-area museums and cultural institutions were thousands of ancient through contemporary Asian works of art at 5 leading auction houses and at the venues of 34 Asian art specialists exhibiting in New York.
Dealers from the U.S. and abroad reported double and triple the attendance over last year with strong sales to collectors and institutions based in the United States, Europe, Hong Kong and mainland China with many works on reserve by museums.
Asia Week New York 2011 sales highlights include:
- Showing The John Menke Collection of Vietnamese Ceramics, Zetterquist Galleries announced that the entire exhibition of 56 pieces had sold to one collector. "It is wonderful to see that this exquisitely designed collection will stay together," said owner Eric Zetterquist.
- Of the 27 works of art offered by Oliver Forge & Brendan Lynch Ltd. of London in Indian Miniature Paintings from the Lloyd Collection, 25 sold or were placed on reserve (seven were reserved by museums).
- Reporting that 82 percent of the bronzes in the J.J. Lally & Co. catalogue for Ancient Chinese Bronzes were sold or placed on reserve, James Lally noted that the total sale is "in the millions."
- MD Flacks Ltd. sold 70 percent of its exhibition, Scholar's Trays, to collectors from Asia, Europe and the United States. The exhibition is thought to have been the first of its kind in the United States.
- "This is far-and-away the most successful exhibition of my 35-year career," said Joan Mirviss of her exhibition, Birds of Dawn: Pioneers of Japan's Sôdeisha Ceramic Movement, which took more than 10 years to organize. Of the 54 pieces in Joan B. Mirviss, Ltd.'s exhibition, 39 have sold at the time of this writing with several headed to important art museums. Two of the most outstanding pieces sold were by the Movement's leader, Yagi Kazuo. Additionally, two paintings by artists Suzuki Kiitsu (1796-1858) and Kawanabe Kyōsai (1831-1889) selected to accompany the exhibition were sold.
- Kapoor Galleries sold the 14th-century, Tibetan Vajradhara featured on its exhibition catalogue cover for A Sterling Collection of Indian and Himalayan Art to a private collector (the asking price was in the seven-figure range); each of two paintings from the famed Kangra Gita Govinda series sold to a new private client; all of the exhibition's Himalayan bronzes sold to private clients. Most of the featured paintings were sold to European clients; an important nayika painting is on reserve to an American museum and an Indian bronze of Vishnu is on reserve to a European museum.
- Sydney L. Moss, Ltd. of London reported that by the close of Centenary Exhibitions of Japanese Art, Including the Elly Nordskog Collection of Inro at the Alexandre Gallery, 35 objects had been sold, totalling over $750,000. The most important piece sold was a lacquered box, decorated with sagemono ensembles, by the great Japanese master of the applied arts, Ogawa Haritsu, known as Ritsu_ (1663-1747). It was sold for approximately $200,000 to an American collector who also purchased a Hanzan pottery censer for approximately $24,000, a Hanzan inlaid five-petal-form wood box with windblown theatre curtain design for $48,000 and two netsuke.
Carlo Cristi, who exhibited From the Himalayan Regions: Sculptures, Tangkas and Textiles at the AFP Galleries, noted many new visitors as well as returning patrons who had not visited in the past two years. Private collectors purchased tangka paintings, bronzes and textiles in the $160,000-$270,000 price range. Art of the Past, a gallery of Indian, Himalayan and Southeast Asian art, sold to private collectors several major paintings and sculptures in their exhibition, Saundarya: 35 Years on Madison Avenue, some of which were well in the seven-figure range. Gallery Manager Aaron Freedman commented, "This has certainly been our best Asia Week by far!" Collectors from America, Asia and Europe acquired rare Chinese works of art made for emperors, courtiers and scholars from Early Chinese Metalwork in Gold and Silver; Works of Art of the Ming and Qing Dynasties presented by Eskenazi Ltd., including a tiny gold and silver standing figure, probably an official, dating from the Warring States period (476-221 BC) and a Tang Dynasty (9th-10th century) parcel-gilt silver bowl with four panels finely chased with peony blooms, leaves, birds and clouds. Katherine Martin of Scholten Japanese Art said, "We were inundated by visitors and sold something every day" from Monogatari: Tales of Japan, including the Mano Gyotei painting Screaming Raijin. "In some instances, there was so much interest, we could have sold things twice," she said. There is strong museum interest in other highlights of the exhibition: the 17th-century Tale of Bunsho hand scrolls, an 18th-century pair of Tale of Genji screens as well as a 14th-century Buddhist hand scroll fragment.
John Siudmak Asian Art's sales from Indian and Himalayan Sculptures and Thankas from the Collection of the late Simon Digby at C.G. Boerner Gallery included a Kashmir bronze censer sold to a European museum and a Kashmir bronze Buddha sold to a private Asian collector. Kaikodo reported the sale of an archaic bronze for $250,000 exhibited in Asian Journeys: Chinese Japanese and Korean Paintings and Ceramics and many sales of ceramics and paintings featured in its annual Kaikodo Journal. Cynthia Volk of Cynthia Volk Asian Art, showing White on White: A selection of white wares from the Tang through Qing Dynasties commented, "[I've made] sales to new clients and old as well as several deals with buyers from Beijing. Among the sales of the past week: two important Tang Dynasty ewers have joined a well-known U.S. collection, and a white marble Tang Dynasty figure of a seated Bodhisattva is on its way to China." Karen Wender of China 2000 Fine Art reported that their exhibition, New Shoots Off the Old Trunk: Contemporary Chinese Art with Classical Roots, was very well received and three of the major pieces have been reserved: Annysa Ng's Ambiguous Space aka Hua Zuan, 2009, a large-scale ink-on-silk painting in two panels; Xu Bing's Square Word Calligraphy Couplet, 2010, a large ink on paper hanging scroll; and Zeng Xiaojun's Mountains and Rocks as Companions a work of color and ink on paper. Most dealers who reported results from Asia Week New York 2011 also expect additional significant sales to be finalized in the coming months.
In the wake of the Japan earthquake tragedy on March 11 Japan Society established the Japan Earthquake Relief Fund (https://www.japansociety.org/japan_earthquake_relief_fund) to aid victims of the Tohoku-Pacific Ocean earthquake in Japan. As of March 31, more than $3.25 million had been donated to the fund; through June 30, Japan Society is donating 50 percent of all ticket and admission sales to the fund. David Elliott, the internationally renowned curator of Bye Bye Kitty!!! Between Heaven and Hell in Contemporary Japanese Art at Japan Society, gave lectures and special presentations, the proceeds for which were also donated to the fund. Throughout the week, flyers about the fund were available at all the participating Asia Week New York 2011 locations and on the Asia Week website.
Celebrating the extraordinary works of ancient through contemporary art from Asia—even in the wake of the devastating tragedy in Japan last month—Asia Week New York 2011 culminated in revitalized and growing interest in these areas of collecting. The official 88-page guide and website (www.AsiaWeekNY.com) helped visitors to navigate the numerous events, sales and exhibitions. With collaboration among the international leaders in their fields as a basis from which to build, next year's event promises to continue this year's success and further establish itself and New York as the dominant western market for Asian art. High-resolution digital images are available upon request to accompany summary coverage of Asia Week New York 2011.