We want to alert all participants in Asia Week activities to proposed legislation by the US Senate, which would greatly affect the collecting and trading of antiquities. Last month, on 16 September 2016, a bill called “Terrorism Art and Antiquity Revenue Prevention Act” was introduced in the US Senate as Senate Bill 3499, in the form of an amendment to the National Stolen Property Act, a criminal statute.
The purpose of the bill is to provide a means to prevent the import into the US of Iraqi and Syrian antiquities, which have been looted by ISIS and are being sold to fund their terrorist activities. None of us objects to the goal of thwarting ISIS, but the extreme and all-encompassing measures outlined in the proposed bill would create extraordinary risks and penalties for all collectors, curators and dealers handling any kind of ancient art from any country in the world. The bill would give US Federal agencies virtually unlimited discretion to seize and repatriate any cultural artifacts on the basis of the assumption that they may possibly have been removed illicitly from the country of origin. The reach of the proposed bill extends to items, which may have been long traded and displayed in the US.
The proposed senate bill calls for criminal prosecution by amending the National Stolen Property Act to make it illegal to possess, sell or transport artifacts valued over $5,000, which may be considered stolen on the basis of a “national patrimony” or “national ownership” law that is consistently applied in that foreign country.
We strongly recommend that you read the content of this website link and consider supporting them with a donation. We all should do our best to help with efforts to avoid such a wide-ranging overreaching bill as now has been proposed.
We all support the goal of opposing ISIS in every way possible, but the enforcement of all foreign cultural property laws by US federal agencies is not an effective method, and it would give arbitrary power to prosecute and penalize innocent collectors, dealers, and curators seeking to exhibit, study, preserve, and trade in ancient art from around the world.
Geoffrey Bradfield with Liao Yibai's Fake Ring, Pink Iceberg (2010).
Refined, luxurious, exquisitely curated, fearless, bespoke, and completely of the moment—these are the essential elements of Geoffrey Bradfield’s signature style, sought after by Fortune 500 clients and others for whom the firm long ago coined the phrase “silent celebrities,” which include some of the most prominent aristocratic and royal families in the world. Among Bradfield’s many highly celebrated projects are: a major overhaul of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s Westbury, Long Island estate, restoration of the late King Hussein’s mansion in Maryland, and the design of Hollywood director Oliver Stone’s riverside New York apartment. Geoffrey Bradfield Inc. is headquartered in New York.
"I am particularly intrigued with burgeoning Asian artists," Bradfield shared with us. "Their creative vision puts a new spin on the genus. Among the many, Liao Yibai's current collection “Real Fake” is stunning. I am also enamored with the work of the Luo Brothers and Sui Jianguo, whose pieces I have showcased in famed movie director Oliver Stone’s New York residence."
We asked Asian art specialists at Sotheby's, Christie's, and iGavel Auctions for their advice on how to approach auction sales as a budding collector.
"First and foremost, buy what you love," says Leiko Coyle, VP and Senior Specialist in Indian and Southeast Asian Art at Christie's. "Art is about emotion and passion. You should have a visceral reaction to what you collect." Christina Prescott-Walker, Senior VP and Division Director of Asian Art at Sotheby's, echoes the sentiment: "Buy what appeals to you, what you will be interested in researching, and what you would like to see around you in your home."
"Second, do your homework. The best way to learn is to look," continues Coyle. Lark Mason, founder of iGavel Auctions, recognizes that "auctions can be intimidating," but "one of the best strategies is immersion. Fortunately, auction houses are welcoming and there are ample opportunities for a novice bidder to attend an exhibition, purchase a catalog, and pick out a dozen or so objects that are interesting to follow in an auction sale."
"Don’t be afraid to come to an auction house view and handle the objects; handling pieces is the best way to learn," adds Prescott-Walker. "The specialists are also happy to view with you and answer questions." You should also "go to museums to train your eye," suggests Coyle, but remember, at an auction house "you not only get to look, but have the option of handling the work."
So what's next? Mason recommends a practice run:
"Make notes on the condition of the objects you choose and go home, do some sleuthing in the ‘sold lot archives’ and find similar examples that have previously sold at auction, and come up with an amount you would bid if you were really bidding. Once you do your homework, contact the auction house and request a ‘condition report’ for a small number out of your larger selection, and then attend the auction. See who bids and follow the results. You’ll learn a lot and not risk any money, and prepare yourself for the real thing next time."
Prescott-Walker also emphasizes how crucial condition reports are. "Ask for condition reports or print them out online, and view the objects with the condition report in hand. Without knowing the condition of a piece, the final auction result has little meaning."
All recommend closely following auction results in order to understand the market. You can also "visit galleries and inquire about pricing," Coyle reminds us.
Once you're ready to bid, do so "in person, by phone or online if you can, rather than leaving a written bid. It will help you get a feel for prices."
From September 9–17, it's Fall Asia Week in New York. Many of our participating dealers are open to the public, showcasing traditional and contemporary examples of the best of Asian painting, sculpture, ceramics, and photography. Think of it as a teaser for the March 2017 edition of Asia Week New York! Here's our guide to the exhibitions on view (please consult individual gallery websites for visiting hours—most are open, at minimum, from 11am to 5pm).
Walter Arader is presenting an exhibition of recent acquisitions, including a large scale 13th century Tibetan copper alloy figure of Buddha Shakyamuni seated at 48.7 cm (19.25 in), a 4th century Gupta stone bust of the goddess Varahi, a large scale 18th century Thangka of an accumulation field, and other fine works. On view September 9–17 at 1016 Madison Avenue.
Qian Han (b.1953), Jinan Auto Mechanic, 1976.
China 2000 Fine Art marks the 40th anniversary of the end of the Cultural Revolution with an exhibition entitled "Rejoice Over Victory." “These paintings are more than propaganda, more than a voyeur’s look into a devastating decade for China; they are the prototypes upon which the following generations would base their perceptions of the world,” writes the gallery in an announcement. On view September 6–28 at 177 East 87th Street, #601.
KIYOMIZU Rokubei VII 七世清水六兵衛 (1922-2006). Incense Burner “Seki-toh-yoh 9” 席陶容-九, 1989. Stoneware. 8.6 x 4.8 x 4.6 in (22 x 12.2 x 11.8 cm).
Dai Ichi Arts, Ltd. celebrates the art of incense burners with an exhibition entitled “Scented Splendors.” “Incense is believed to expel evils, to refresh the environment, purify the spirit, and to provide a calming and pleasant atmosphere,” explains the gallery in an announcement. On view September 15-30 at 18 East 64th Street, Suite 1F.
Morita Shiryu. SO, 1963. Lacquer on rice paper. 58 x 46 in.
A diverse array of works make up Carole Davenport's "Recent Acquisitions," including pieces by Morita Shiryu and Hiroyuki Asano. On view September 10–20 at 131 East 83rd Street.
Vishnu in His Cosmic Sleep. Beige Sandstone, Central India (Madhya Pradesh), circa 11th century. 11 1/2 x 22 inches.
Nayef Homsi Ancient Art of Asia is staging an exhibition of Indian stones revolving around the Hindu deity Vishnu, dating from the 9th-12th century. A very early Gandharan sculpture of a seated Buddha, considered the last avatar of the god Vishnu, will also be on view. The exhibition runs September 9–16 at 7 East 75th Street, Unit 1A.
A Large Painted Figure of a Groom. Northern Dynasties, Mid-6th century A.D. Height: 53.3 cm (21 in).
The advent of fall is being observed at Kaikodo with an exhibition entitled "Worlds in Flux," which brings together Chinese and Japanese paintings of autumn, along with a selection of works of art produced during China’s Six Dynasties period—a deeply fragmented era that was also marked by intense creative energy in the realms of art and literature. On view September 9–17 at 74 East 79th Street.
Radha and Krishna under parasol Bundi school, India. Gouache heightened with gold on paper, circa 18th century. Folio: 6 7⁄8x 9 1⁄2 in. (17.5 x 24.1 cm).
This September, Kapoor Galleries, Inc. is exhibiting a selection of quality works from India and the Himalayas. The gallery is open 11am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. Appointments are suggested.
Joan B. Mirviss Ltd is presenting "Waves of Ink: Painting in Porcelain," a solo exhibition of new works by Kondo Takahiro (b. 1958). Celebrated for his “silver mist” (gintekisai) overglaze, Kondo has created a new body of large and small works based on his continuing preoccupation with the 3/11 tsunami and its short and long term effects on the people and landscape of Japan. On view September 13–October 28 at 39 East 78th Street.
IMAIZUMI Imaemon XIV (b. 1962). Vase with Zuika (Mullein) Flower Patterns, 2013. Porcelain with iro-e polychrome enamel painting with light sumi and sumi-hajiki. 14 1/2 x 12 1/4 in (36.6 x 31.2 cm).
In honor of its 10-year anniversary, Onishi Gallery presents a landmark exhibition entitled "Kōgei: Contemporary Japanese Art." With works by 30 contemporary artists, this exhibition introduces Kōgei into the international art market—a category of objects that can be translated from Japanese as "art crafts," and draw upon regional aesthetics and materials. On view September 8–October 8 at 521 West 26th Street.
Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III, 1786-1865). Morita Kanya XI in the role of Saito Tarozaemon Toshiyuki. 1860, woodblock print. 14 3/8 by 10 in (36.5 by 25.3 cm).
Scholten Japanese Art presents "Strike a Pose: Spectacular Imagery of the Kabuki Theater," an exhibition that brings together an array of imagery related to one of Japan’s most distinctive, and yet possibly least understood, cultural exports: the kabuki theater. The exhibition focuses on ukiyo-e woodblock prints portraying popular actors in lavish costumes on stage as well as relaxing off stage. On view September 8–16, and then again November 1–5 for Print Week, at 145 West 58th Street, Suite 6D.
Tomohiro Muda. Mizu 06, 2011. Inkjet Pigment Print, Edition of 25. 47¼ × 31½ in (120 x 80 cm).
Erik Thomsen Asian Art is holding an exhibition of works by Tomohiro Muda (b. 1956). Previously best known for images inspired by sites of religious devotion and pilgrimage, for this New York debut show, Muda has turned his focus to the natural world with a selection of photographs of earth’s most abundant natural resource: water. On view September 12–October 7 at 23 East 67th Street.
Small Sancai Amphora. Tang Dynasty, 618-907 A.D., China. Height: 10.75 cm.
Eric Zetterquist will be showcasing an assortment of Chinese ceramics from the Tang, Song and Yuan Dynasties, along with additional pieces from the Feng Wen Tang Collection and pieces sourced from Japanese and American collections. Open to the public September 9–17 at 3 East 66th Street, #1B.
by Sarah Laursen, Curator of Asian Art, Middlebury College Museum of Art
I first encountered “Perseverance: Japanese Tattoo Tradition in a Modern World” two years ago while visiting the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. Curated by tattoo artist Takahiro Kitamura (AKA Ryūdaibori, formerly Horitaka) and designed by photographer/filmmaker Kip Fulbeck, the exhibition consisted of more than 100 stunning photographs of Japanese-style tattoos, ranging from single sleeves to full bodysuits. I knew immediately that I wanted the exhibition to travel to the Middlebury College Museum of Art in Middlebury, Vermont.
In this exhibition I saw an opportunity to reach out to a diverse cross-section of tattooed Vermonters, including some who may never have visited our museum before. According to The Harris Poll, almost one in three adults in the United States has one or more tattoos, and I suspected that the number might even be higher in Vermont. Even those without tattoos, like myself, might be curious or find inspiration in the gorgeous flowers, fish, deities, and warriors who adorn the subjects of Fulbeck’s photographs. However, in a state with such a small population, I knew it would be difficult to get the word out—I needed a special event to capture the public’s attention.
My brother-in-law, Christopher Holt, and his San Francisco-based tattooer NaKona MacDonald bravely volunteered to do a live tattooing demonstration. Although traditional Japanese tattoo, or irezumi, is performed manually by impressing needles attached to a tool into the skin, this demonstration would employ the tattoo machine, which was invented in 1891 by tattoo artist Samuel O’Reilly.
The only potential obstacle was Vermont’s strict regulatory laws. In order to receive a temporary license—in fact, the first temporary license ever issued by the state—I had to convert the café in the Mahaney Center for the Arts (where the museum is housed) into an actual tattoo shop. This endeavor entailed the participation of more than forty people, including the state inspector who walked me through the process, a local masseuse who lent a massage table, the facilities crew who removed the café’s cappuccino machine, the college lawyers who gave the go-ahead, and the student health center staff who contributed hospital-grade disinfectant and needle disposal. I myself had to draft consent forms and make several trips to the store for gauze, razors, gloves, and other provisions.
On July 9th, with licenses issued, NaKona began sketching out the next phase of Chris’ dragon back piece. That week, a Burlington-based newspaper called Seven Days had listed the event as its top pick for that weekend in Vermont, and more than 300 visitors attended the demonstration and exhibition. (On an average summer Saturday, that number is usually closer to forty.) Museum-goers of all ages—from children perched on parents’ shoulders to octogenarians from the nearby retirement center—flocked to the exhibition and to the café-turned-tattoo-shop, where they peppered NaKona with questions and offered encouragement to Chris.
Perhaps the most remarkable outcome of the demonstration and exhibition was the visible transformation of visitors, from curious and apprehensive to comfortable and inquisitive. Tattooing is still considered taboo in Japan, and that stigma does exist to a lesser degree in the United States. However, exhibitions like “Perseverance” challenge those negative views and open the door to endless new forms of artistic expression.
Watch a brief video of the tattooing demonstration below:
As an internationally acclaimed interior designer, Ronald Bricke is sought worldwide for his innovative approaches to both traditional and contemporary design. His scores of projects include the Elsie DeWolfe townhouse in Manhattan (featured in House & Garden, July 1999), the Frank Lloyd Wright house in New Canaan, the Mauksberry Club in London, various homes in the Hamptons and across the United States and residential apartments in Paris, Japan, and New York. One of the rare inductees as an Honorary Member of the American Society of Interior Designers, Mr. Bricke has served on the Board of Directors of the Isabel O’Neil Foundation for the Painted Finish and as a member of the Board of Governors of his alma mater, Parsons School of Design.
Forged fine silver organism by Junko Mori and two crystal “silver mist” ceramics by Kondo Takahiro rest upon an ivory and marquetry inlaid table (approximately 1790) and are accompanied by a Valdavian sculpture (1580 BC) and a Farnes Harakles sculpture (1st-2nd century AD). A “Celestial Realm” photograph by Wang Wusheng hangs in the background.
We asked him: What do you collect and how do you combine Asian works of art into your interiors?
"The exquisite nature of simplicity is the inherent characteristic that prevails upon my collection. With this aesthetic in mind, I have made the discovery that differing cultures and artwork combine seamlessly. Our global connections are invaluable in finding these uniting features."
"My collections incorporate contemporary Asian works of art with Roman, Greek and Valdavian sculptures. I also rely heavily on other collectors (for example, Adrian Sassoon, Joan Mirviss and Erik Thomsen) for their inspirations, perceptions and vast knowledge."
See more photos of Ronald Bricke's work below:
In the background, placed upon the window ledge is a tall fluted vessel (stoneware – sand glaze) with pinched waist and incised surface patterning by Sakiyama Takayuki (b. 1958). A Japanese bronze bird, a black lacquer scroll box and a forged fine silver organism by Junko Mori have been placed upon the coffee tables.
Two pieces of stoneware with colored clay inlays by Kishi Eiko (Japanese, b. 1948) reside behind a white ceramic Japanese bowl in the shape of a flower by Ito Hidehito (b. 1971). A porcelain with blue underglaze and a four-legged rectangular vessel with green glass cover and “silver mist” both by Kondo Takahiro (b. 1958) are placed in front of a brass urn by Gustave Serrurier-Bovy. All items are placed upon a cipollino marble, custom “outrigger” table.
Frank Lloyd Wright House: A six panel Japanese screen of “Matsushima” (Pine Island) with finishing nets beneath Mount Fuji by the Kano School, circa 1800 provides the backdrop for a Frank Lloyd Wright dining room and is complemented with a Dale Chihuly sculpture in the foreground.
Photo of the Japanese garden at the Huntington Library, 2008, via Wikimedia Commons (Flickr user: sebi ryffel)
We asked Kaikodo LLC director Carol Conover: What are some of your favorite, under-the-radar Asian art collections across the United States? Here are her recommendations.
If you are traveling around the U.S. this summer and looking for Asian art, I recommend the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts. The Chinese ceramics collection is excellent, and was acquired early on through generous local collectors. The collection also includes a very rare pair of wood Standing Bodhisattvas dating to the Song dynasty.
The Ackland Art Museum in Chapel Hill, North Carolina has a very good permanent collection of Indian and Southeast Asian sculpture.
Many people have seen all the publications that have come out of the Harn Museum of Art in Gainesville, Florida, but should also know the Harn has a stand-alone wing dedicated to Asian art. The changing exhibitions are ambitious.
Also in Florida is the Norton Museum of Art, in West Palm Beach. The Norton is also an old collection, and has some very rare examples of Chinese archaic bronzes, as well as a gallery dedicated to Chinese paintings.
Out west is the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon in Eugene. When the museum opened in 1933, the founder Gertrude Bass Warner dedicated the largest gallery to the splendors of the Qing Court, where the museum has great strength, including not one, but two Imperial thrones.
For those wanting to be outdoors rather than inside museums, I recommend a visit to the Huntington Library in Pasadena, California, to see one of the oldest Japanese gardens in the United States, as well as the more recent Chinese Garden, which is among the largest outside of China.
Items that incorporate ivory and other materials from living creatures that are designated as ‘Endangered’ are restricted for sale in the US and for sale abroad by a variety of local, national, and international regulations and treaties. This article is a summary of some of these regulations and is intended not as a guide for any person seeking advice about a particular object, but rather to provide basic information about the subject to assist in the process of having a better understanding of what to do. For a detailed response to this issue, we suggest reading the informational link on the FWS.gov site and in particular, the question and answer format.
On July 6, the USFWS instituted a near-total ban on the sale of ivory in the US. Certain exceptions are allowed for the sale of ESA (Endangered Species Act) designated Antiques. For an object to meet the Antique Exemption, allowing for sale in the US into interstate commerce, it must:
- be 100 years old or older
- composed in whole or part of an ESA-listed species
- it has not been repaired or modified with any such species after December 27, 1973
- it is or was imported through an endangered species “antique port”
There are 13 Antique Ports of Entry in the US that were established in 1982.
Under Director’s Order No. 210, as a matter of enforcement discretion, items imported prior to September 22, 1982, and items created in the United States and never imported must comply with the first three requirements but not the Antique Port of Entry requirement.
GUIDANCE ON PROOF
How to prove the above? USFWS offers the following guidance:
"We want to clarify that forensic testing is not necessarily required. Provenance and age may be determined through a detailed history of the item, including but not limited to, family photos, ethnographic fieldwork, art history publications, or other information that authenticates the article and assigns the work to a known period of time or, where possible, to a known artist or craftsman. A qualified appraisal or another method, including using information in catalogs, price lists, and other similar materials that document the age by establishing the origin of the item, can also be used.”
Additionally, the USFWS in Director’s Order 210, Appendix 1 offers the following specific qualifications as to what constitutes a “Qualified Appraisal”
- A description of the article that is detailed enough for a person who is not generally familiar with the type of article to determine that the appraisal is about the article in question.
- The name and address of the qualified appraiser, or if the appraiser is a partner, an employee, or an independent contractor engaged by a person other than the person claiming the exception, the name and address of the partnership or the person who employs or engages the appraiser.
- The qualifications of the appraiser who signs the appraisal, including the background, experience, education, and any membership in professional appraiser associations.
- The date on which the article was appraised. o The scientific method in detail used to determine the age or species. o Descriptive information on the article, including but not limited to: the size of the article, the medium, the artist or culture, approximate date the article was created, and a professional quality image of the article.
- A detailed history of the article, including proof of authenticity.
- The facts on which the appraisal was based including analyses of similar works by the artist on or around the creation dates.
State and Local Prohibitions
In addition to Federal regulations, many states have regulations that restrict the sale of ‘Endangered’ and ‘Non-endangered’ species. These states include New York, New Jersey, and California. Residents of states should check with their local and state government to learn about prohibitions, if any, governing the sale of plant and animal species that are incorporated into objects. Here is the link to state departments governing natural resources.
Objects that contain a small amount of African (not Asian) Elephant ivory, even if under 100 years of age, may qualify for sale in the US under The African Elephant 4 (d) rule. To meet this exception, the object must:
(i) If the item is located within the United States, the ivory was imported into the United States prior to January 18, 1990, or was imported into the United States under a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) pre-Convention certificate with no limitation on its commercial use; (ii) If the item is located outside the United States, the ivory was removed from the wild prior to February 26, 1976; (iii) The ivory is a fixed or integral component or components of a larger manufactured or handcrafted item and is not in its current form the primary source of the value of the item, that is, the ivory does not account for more than 50 % of the value of the item; (iv) The ivory is not raw; (v) The manufactured or handcrafted item is not made wholly or primarily of ivory, that is, the ivory component or components do not account for more than 50 % of the item by volume; (vi) The total weight of the ivory component or components is less than 200 grams; and (vii) The item was manufactured or handcrafted before July 6, 2016.
Some items that are over 100 years of age can be sold into interstate commerce, depending upon documentation or if they meet a deminimis exception. Most items under 100 years of age are not acceptable for sale, unless that object meets the deminimis exception. There are glaring problems with the regulations, namely:
- the cost to comply with the above is not practical for owners of small objects of minimal value
- objects without documentation showing proof of entry into the US prior to 1982 are unsalable, regardless of age
- owners of objects containing ivory should document the history of ownership and create a file/ folder that will accompany the object
Owners and sellers of items that contain endangered species materials, especially ivory must be aware of the regulations concerning commercial activity and are strongly advised to hold onto documents that prove the objects to have been in the US in accordance with US law.
Mirror valve: game of chess (c. 1300), Paris, in the Louvre's collection. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Asia Week New York media partner Apollo Magazine recently ran an opinion piece by Martin Levy, entitled "Antique ivory poses no threat to elephant conservation: in fact, it needs protection itself."
"There have been persistent attempts, in recent years, to link the universally applauded efforts to enforce elephant conservation, with calls to ban the movement of historic works of art made of or containing, ivory. These debates are frequently fractious, and often ill informed – and have elicited different responses in different countries." Read the entire piece here to learn more about the debate.
"Pursuing the Sublime" features five contemporary photographers in conversation with five nineteenth and early twentieth century Japanese printmakers. At Laurence Miller Gallery through June 25.
"Ikeda Iwao: The Life of Bamboo | The Spirit of Urushi" is on view at Erik Thomsen Gallery until June 29.
Contemporary artist Hui Chi Lee has a solo show at Fitzgerald Fine Arts, with a new body of hand-drawn graphite pen and colored pencil works on paper. Through June 30.
Kapoor Galleries and The Indo-American Arts Council present “Erasing Borders,” a richly provocative exhibition by artists of the Indian diaspora who confront issues of sexuality, terror, disease, the environment, racial and sectarian politics in painting, prints, installations, video, and sculpture. Opening reception on July 14, 6-8pm.
"Draw the Line" features the work of Yu-ichi Inoue, NAOYA, and Shun Sudo, three renowned Japanese artists who each push the boundaries of genre, style, and tradition. At Onishi Gallery through August 5.
To combat the heat, Scholten Japanese Art's summer exhibition brings together "a cooling compilation of watery subjects found in paintings and woodblock prints." Through August 31.
For its exhibition “Summer Rotation: Clay Sculpture,” Joan B Mirviss Ltd has carefully selected a striking group of sculptural works by both established and emerging artists, who have created works that supersede utility for the sake of form. On view July 13–August 31.
"Kingdom of Exile," a Rabin Mondal retrospective, remains on view at DAG Modern through September 3.