Despite the frigid temperatures, Asia Week New York—the ten-day Asian art extravaganza—which concluded on March 18, 2017 roared to a close with a record-breaking $423,772,742 in combined sales which included the fifty galleries and five auction houses: Bonhams, Christie’s, Doyle, iGavel, and Sotheby’s.
The annual event was celebrated with a gala reception on March 13, co-hosted with the Asian Department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Thomas P. Campbell, the director of The Metropolitan Museum, Mike Hearn, Chair of the Asian Art Department and Lark Mason, chairman of Asia Week New York welcomed 750 collectors, curators and Asian art specialists. The event ignited excitement even further when the Asian art world buzzed with recording-breaking auction sales that were packed with international buyers from Mainland China, Taiwan, India, Japan, Korea, Europe and the United States.
“With the influx of Chinese buyers, museum curators and collectors, Asia Week New York ended on an upbeat note with record-breaking sales in all categories,” said Lark Mason, chairman of Asia Week New York. “An unprecedented 50 galleries participated with exhibitions spanning five centuries and auction house totals skyrocketed like never before. All in all, Asia Week New York was a huge success!” Asia Week New York is always a draw for international museum curators on the look out for treasures for their museums, and this year was no different. They represented museums such as the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, The Brooklyn Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Newark Museum, the Phoenix Art Museum, the San Antonio Art Museum, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Herbert F. Johnson Museum at Cornell University, the Harvard University Art Museums, the Indianapolis Art Museum, the Yale University Art Gallery, the Portland Art Museum, the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College, the Museum of the City of New York, the Nelson-Atkins Museum, the Philadelphia Museum, the Kimbell Art Museum, the Worcester Art Museum, the University of Michigan Museum, the Cleveland Museum, the Crow Collection in Dallas, the Virginia Museum of Art, The Berkeley Art Museum, the Princeton Art Museum, the Jordan Schnitzer Art Museum, the Norton Museum of Art, Asia Society Museum, Ackland Art Museum, The China Institute, The Toledo Museum, The Korean Cultural Center, the Freer and Sackler Galleries, the Smart Museum and from abroad the British Museum, The Hong Kong Museum of Art, the Royal Ontario Museum, and the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore.
Even the mid-week snowstorm worked to the dealers’ advantage with many surprised by the brisk foot traffic and numerous sales. Praise came in from just about every quarter, as evidenced by the comments by the participating galleries.
Chinese specialist James Lally of J.J. Lally & Co. in New York commented: “Asia Week 2017 was significantly stronger for us than last year. Attendance was up and despite the fact that our exhibition this year concentrates on a rather esoteric subject, buyers were very eager and sales were brisk. Our exhibition included Chinese Buddhist sculptures spanning a thousand year period including a 5th entury Bronze Standing Buddha, Northern Wei Dynasty and a Large 14th-15th century Bronze Figure of Avalokitesvara Seated on a Lion, Early Ming Dynasty.” According to Lally, 70% of his special exhibition sold including three items to American museums and one item to an Asian museum.
“We have firmly sold 79 works of art, which is record for us,” said Joan Mirviss of her eponymous New York gallery. “Several other works are pending approval with institutions. Most are with established collectors and museum clients but we have had new visitors making acquisitions too.” Among the notable sales were a very rare woodblock print by Suzuki Harunobu titled “The Evening Bell of the Clock, dated circa 1766; a very rare major work by Kawai Kanjiro, an important clay artist; a flattened vessel (henko) with flaring mouth and sançai red, green and black iron-oxide glazes on unglazed Shigaraki clay body, dated circa 1960 and a blue craquelure celadon long-necked kinuta-shaped vase, by Okabe Mineo, circa 1969.
“We were very excited to see the energy and exuberance for Asia Week New York continue,” said Suneet Kapoor. “The number of Asian clients looking for the best quality works of art across all specialties increased tremendously.” Kapoor reported that several major museums reserved works. “We are delighted to be a part of Asia Week New York and firmly believe in the power of a unified effort to enlighten the public as well as service museums and private collectors.” One of the exhibition highlights that sold was a Buddha from Burma, circa 12th century, from the Pagan period.
Chinese specialist Eric Zetterquist of his eponymous Zetterquist Galleries in New York commented: “We had great interest in our Vietnamese exhibition, as well as our collection of Chinese works of art,” he said. “We saw many Chinese collectors and dealers, who were active buyers. We sold 25 other Vietnamese pieces, including the parrot and most of the major Chinese works of art.”
Brendan Lynch of the London-based gallery Oliver Forge & Brendan Lynch said that they had a steady steam of visitors with buoyant sales from collectors and museums. One of the objects snapped up was Krishna and Balarama conversing with Nanda on a terrace, circa 1765.
Carol Conover, managing director of Kaikodo LLC, specialists in Chinese and Japanese paintings, Chinese ceramics and works of art reported that the American museums and collectors were very active. “Kaikodo had a good week selling across the board in our various areas of specialty. Over 30 museums, including several European and Asian curators, visited her Upper East Side gallery.
“We were so crowded over the weekend, that it was like the perfume counter at Macy’s on Christmas Eve,” remarked Katherine Martin, director of Scholten Japanese Art. “And on the day of the storm we had several visitors that were pleased to have somewhere to go since so many of the big venues and institutions were closed. We are happy to report that we sold Tsukioka Yoshitoshi’s six-panel Picture of the Great Battle of Kawanakajima and Picture of the Bloody Battle of the Brave Generals of the Takeda Clan, 1866 & 1867.”
David Priestley of the London-based Priestley & Ferraro commented: “Taking part in Asia Week New York for the first time we were very happy with our experience. In spite of some adverse weather conditions, we had a large number of visitors, many of whom we had not met before, and were very pleased with the sales that resulted. We intend to be back next year!”
"We were delighted with the success of our exhibition during Asia Week,” said Mark Slaats of Littleton & Hennessy Asian Art from London. “It is always a pleasure to see so many old, familiar faces as well as to meet new clients from all over the world. Once again New York proves to be an excellent venue for all those who share a passion for the best Asian art.”
Brooklyn-based Nicholas Grindley welcomed many mainland Chinese buyers, some new to him as well as many museum curators. "I've sold a few major pieces, including a Jichimu table in the form of an archaic fang ding, a bronze ceremonial vessel from the Qing Dynasty, probably Daoguang period (1821-1850).
First time participant Alexis Renard, from Paris, noted: “Asia Week was a very good way to reconnect with some collectors and museum people and also to meet new clients. I found the overall energy between dealers and visitors to be very positive.”
Also new to Asia Week New York was New York-based Heakyum Kim of HK Art & Antiques LLC. “I was very pleased to be part of Asia Week New York,” said Ms. Kim. “It gave me the opportunity to meet collectors and curators, many of whom I met for the first time.”
“We reconnected with clients we have not seen for many years and we met new private clients, and museums,” said Francesca Galloway whose namesake gallery, located in London. “Our exhibition, Pahari Paintings from the Eva and Konrad Seitz Collection, drew much interest as it was a rare opportunity to see a fantastic group of Pahari paintings outside a museum context.” Ms. Galloway reported selling twenty paintings. “Asia Week New York is a fabulous event for people interested in the field, and we always tremendously enjoy our time in the city. We look forward to returning in 2018.”
Alan Kennedy, a Santa Monica-based textile specialist, had a very positive experience this year with a steady flow of museum curators to his gallery and reports that three museums have received pieces, and final confirmation from their acquisitions committee are forthcoming very soon.
Michael C. Hughes, a New York private dealer specializing in Chinese and Korean art, reported that sales were very strong for him this year. “We had very active buyers who made this year’s Asia Week New York very successful.”
Brisk traffic and excellent sales were the order of the day at Kang Collection Korean Art in New York. “We had a very heavy flow of visitors and met twenty-four curators, and four museum directors,” said Keum Ja Kang, the gallery owner.
Nana Onishi, who specializes in contemporary Japanese metalwork, once again juxtaposed her contemporary Japanese ceramics with the French 18th and 19th century decorative arts at Dalva Brothers. “We had a very successful Asia Week New York, and sold many pieces including Mumyoi Neriage, Cylindrical Jar with Flower Patterns, 2016 by Ito Sekisui.
Martha Sutherland, whose gallery specializes in contemporary Chinese paintings, said that there is strong interest in Hung Hsien, Hai Tao and Yang Mian, with two museums vying for several Hung Hsien and Hai Tao works.
Walter Arader of Walter Arader Himalayan Art in New York was pleased with the week having received many museums and private collectors both new and old. Mr. Arader reported that his prized work of art, Padmapani Lokeshvara, a 16th century gilt bronze, was snapped up by a private collector.
Doug Frazer, of The Art of Japan, commented: “We had visits from at least 5 curators, including the Minneapolis Institute of Art and The Sackler Freer Museum Museum and met several young scholars, many collectors, both young and old and other dealers in Japanese prints and printmakers, including Paul Binnie. Among the works sold was Beauty Combing her Hair, a stunning woodblock by Torii Kotondo, dated 1933.