New York: From the minute the 400 guests started streaming through the revolving doors of the Guggenheim Museum on March 15 to celebrate the launch of Asia Week New York, up until the last closing of the 43 gallery exhibitions on March 24, the exuberance and enthusiasm was palpable as hundreds of international collectors, curators, scholars and Asian art aficionados converged in New York to see and purchase an extraordinary array of treasures from every corner of Asia. The Asian art specialists here from Australia, England, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Switzerland, and the United States reported strong sales to known and new buyers from around the globe, with many works on reserve by museums. To date, the combined sales realized by these galleries together with the highly successful auctions—many with record-breaking prices—at Bonhams, Christie’s, Doyle New York and Sotheby’s, achieved 175 million dollars up from last year’s 170 million dollar total.
“After a whirlwind week of exhibitions, auction sales, lectures and museum shows, Asia Week New York concluded its 2013 edition on a very high note reinforcing New York as an important destination for Asian art collectors,” said Carol Conover, the newly appointed Chairman of Asia Week New York and director of Kaikodo LLC. “This year saw a 25% increase in dealer participants with record numbers of Asian art curators and their patrons in tow, as well as strong buyers from China, Japan and India.” Conover noted that the new marketing campaign for this year helped to attract more visitors. “It was impossible to miss our Asia Week New York banners and the welcome-mat size logos placed in front of many gallery entrances. These elements combined with our newly designed website in English and Chinese certainly boosted traffic.”
According to Conover, seen throughout the week were curators from the Sackler Museum at Harvard, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Princeton University Art Museum, the Yale University Art Gallery, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the St. Louis Art Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, the Clark Center for Japanese Art & Culture, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Newark Museum, the LA County Museum of Art, the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, the Harn Museum of Art, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Detroit Institute of Art, the Lowe Art Museum at University of Miami, Berkeley Art Museum, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Kimbell Art Museum, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Norton Museum of Art, Portland Art Museum, the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell, Middlebury College Museum, the Smart Museum of University of Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Rubin Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Asian Art, Berlin, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, the Kyoto National Museum, the Korean National Museum, the British Museum, and the Rietberg Museum in Zurich.
“I had a record-breaking week which surpassed all my expectations,” said Joan B. Mirviss of her eponymous gallery. “The responses from both the museum world and the savvy collectors have been astonishing. We have already sold 65% of the "Seven Sages of Ceramics" show (30 ceramics) but closer to 80% by value. In addition we have sold several works by contemporary artists, ukiyo-e prints by Utamaro and others, as well as two eighteenth-century paintings, one by Nagasawa Rosetsu.” Among the sales Mirviss reported was a twisting, carved crackled-celadon glazed vessel by Okabe Mineo, fired in 1968.
James Lally of J. J. Lally & Co. in New York said: “Our special exhibition of Song Dynasty Ceramics was very well received, and as of this moment we have sold 85% of the items in our special exhibition from the Longsdorf Collection of Song Dynasty Ceramics. The number of serious collectors and curators and Asian art aficionados passing through our gallery during Asia Week 2013 was significantly higher than last year. We heard enthusiastic and positive comments on other special exhibitions at various dealers as well as kind comments about our own show all week long. Several European and Asian collectors purchased items but the majority of the collection was sold to American collectors and American museums. Among the prized objects snapped up was a Rust-Splashed Black-Glazed Ovoid Bottle-Vase, Song Dynasty (A.D. 960-1279).”
“The energy and traffic was considerably greater than 2012, which was already a strong year for us,” said Suneet Kapoor of the Kapoor Galleries in New York. “I noticed some new museums visiting, which have not done so in the past, such as the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Korean National Museum, as well as the regulars such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, Newark Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Dallas Museum of Art and some of the University Museums: Lowe Museum at the University of Miami, Smart Museum at University of Chicago, Yale University Art Gallery. We also noticed an uptick in European collectors as well, on the rise over the past two years, reinforcing New York as a premier destination for Asian art.” Among the items picked up by private collectors and museums were Krishna lifts Mt. Govardhan, Jina Candraprabha, 2 Arhat Thangkas, Illustration to Bhagavata Purana series.
Erik Schiess of the Portland, Oregon-based Jadestone, reported that he developed new relationships and met new museum clients as well. “We sold most of our top items. Approximately 2/3 of the sales were to mainland Chinese buyers and the rest were to European and American clients.” He added, “We sold quite a few nice things, but the one with the most interest was the Imperial Chinese scepter from the Jiaqing period (1796-1820). We also sold a 14th century wooden model of Manjushri, a number of jade carvings, Buddhist bronzes, a late Shang Dynasty ritual vessel (Jue) and many fine snuff bottles including jade, imperial porcelain and agate.”
“The energy and enthusiasm is more intense than last year,” said Katherine Martin of Scholten Japanese Art in New York. “I had visitors almost non-stop throughout the week.” According to Martin, The Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture from Hanford California acquired two works from The Nightlife exhibition: the elaborate hanging scroll painting by Utagawa Toyokuni of a courtesan and two attendants on parade under cherry blossoms, and the highlight of the show, an important mid-17th century six-panel folding screen depicting Okuni, the famous female shrine dancer who is credited with originating the kabuki theater.
“We had an amazing week selling more items this year than ever before,” said Michael C. Hughes from New York. Among his sales were a green and russet jade bottle, Master of the Rocks School, 1760-1850, and an archaistic Eastern Zhou style bronze vessel, gui, probably 17th/18th century.
Brendan Lynch, of the London-based Oliver Forge & Brendan Lynch, reported that a number of institutions bought and reserved Indian miniature paintings, including The British Library, The Art Institute of Chicago, and Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University. “We had more curators returning to visit than for the past two years with our private buyers from America and Europe,” said Lynch. Among the sales was Portrait of Ikhlas Khan, Vakil of Bijapur Golconda, circa 1675 A.D., an opaque watercolor with gold on paper.
“We were very happy with the response to our exhibition,” said Leonardo Vigorelli, of the Milan-based Dalton Somaré Gallery, who reported excellent sales of major pieces from their show, “After Alexander.”
"My exhibition this year was a rare opportunity to view a comprehensive selection of Song Ceramics from one kiln (Jizhou),” said Eric Zetterquist of Zetterquist Galleries, in New York. “I was delighted to see hundreds of past, current and future clients, as well as academics and museum curators from all over the country take great interest in the exhibition and catalog."
“The response to my show has been enormous and extremely positive,” said first-time participant Dr. Robert R. Bigler, from Ruschlikon, Switzerland. “I have sold a considerable number of objects to private buyers from China, Europe, Australia and the U.S. and have made many new contacts, as well as enjoying lengthy and inspiring discussions with museums curators and professional colleagues.”
“We had one of the best Asia Weeks in years with sales across the board from $7,500 to over $3M,” said Carlton Rochell, whose gallery is based in New York.
Milan-based Carlo Cristi sold the highlight of his exhibition, the richly saturated Heruka mandala made for the Bardo ritual, the transitional stage time between death and reincarnation, and the very earliest mandalas known to exist, as well as a selection of bronzes. “I was very impressed with the energy of this year’s Asia Week New York,” said Cristi. “There were many more international visitors than in the past.”
Marsha Vargas, of the Xanadu Gallery in San Francisco, was “very pleased with the comments and requests from several museums.” She added, “We sold three good Himalayan bronzes as well as some jewelry items, Chinese snuff bottles and works of art we anticipate additional sales as a result of the exhibition.”
New York contemporary Chinese painting specialist Martha Sutherland reported that two Hsia I-fu ink monochrome landscapes were sold, “with many other sales from American museums.”
John Siudmak, from London, explained that “this was a very good year, with more museum curators visiting the gallery than in prior seasons.” Among the sold objects is a rare cast bronze mask of Bhairava from the ancient Gandhara region dating from the Hephthalite period.
Asia Week New York will be held March 14 through 22, 2014. For more information, visit www.asiaweekny.com.