What's Happening in Asian Art...

2017 Gallery Hop: Focus on Contemporary Japanese Art

February 27, 2017

For Asia Week New York 2017, we're creating walking itineraries with various areas of focus to help you navigate the 50 gallery exhibitions on view. For this first post in our 2017 Gallery Hop series, we're focusing on contemporary Japanese art, with a 1.5-mile itinerary that takes you to six galleries, from midtown to the Upper East Side. Total walking time should be about 30 minutes, but the time you spend in each gallery, of course, is entirely up to you!

Start at Laurence Miller Gallery at 20 West 57th Street.
Exhibition on view: Toshio Shibata, Recent Work
Type: Photography

Walk towards 5th Avenue and walk north. Turn right on 64th Street, to reach Dai Ichi Arts, Ltd. at 18 East 64th Street.
Exhibition on view: The West in the East
Type: Ceramics

Walk north on Madison. At 67th Street, make a left and walk up to Erik Thomsen Gallery at 23 East 67th Street.
Exhibition on view: Post-War Japanese Calligraphy
Type: Calligraphy

Go back to Madison Avenue and continue walking north for ten blocks. Turn right on 77th Street, to Dalva Brothers at number 53, where Onishi Gallery is exhibiting.
Exhibition on view: Japanese Art and Modern Living
Type: Ceramics and Decorative Objects

Go back to Madison Avenue and walk one block north. Make a right on 78th Street, to Joan B. Mirviss Ltd. at number 39.
Exhibition on view: Timeless Elegance in Japanese Art: Celebrating 40 Years!
Type: Ceramics, Paintings and Prints

Go back to Madison Avenue and walk north to 82nd Street. Make a left to reach Carole Davenport at 5 East 82nd Street.
Exhibition on view: THEN NOW / Meet Hiroyuki Asano & His Sculpture in a Milieu of Classic Art
Type: Sculpture

(Note: While you're there, you may want to visit the lower level of the building, where participating dealers Runjeet Singh and Alexis Renard are holding exhibitions.)

A custom Google map of the itinerary, which you can share with others, is below:

Interior Designer Spotlight: Juan Montoya

January 12, 2017

Above: House in Miami. Photo by Ken Hayden

Juan Montoya, one of the most acclaimed and prolific interior designers in the world today, was born and spent his early years in Colombia. After studying architecture in Bogotá, he moved to New York where he graduated from Parsons School of Design. Following two years of work and study in Paris and Milan, he returned to New York, where he founded the design business he has presided over since. His firm specializes in residential and contract interior design, with projects located throughout the United States and Internationally. He is a member of the Interior Design Hall of Fame, as well as a recipient of an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Parsons School of Design, the Star of Design Award, and the Legends Award from Pratt Institute. 

Juan Montoya is not wedded to a particular style or period. Through the careful placement of objects that often reflect his interest in a variety of cultures, Montoya enhances the qualities of a room or of an entire apartment or house. His firm, Juan Montoya Design, is based in New York City.

Park Avenue Apartment, NYC. Photo by Billy Cunningham.

"Since the beginning of time Asian art has taken an important role in interiors and architecture," comments Montoya. "Therefore, incorporating Asian art is almost like a necessity for me. I find Han Dynasty clay pieces especially beautiful, and also like to incorporate 17th and 18th century Japanese screens as works of art in modern and contemporary interiors."

See more of Juan Montoya's designs below:

Apartment in Miami. Photo by Ken Hayden.

Apartment in NYC. Photo by Scott Frances.

The Incredible Restoration of an Ancient Japanese Scroll

December 5, 2016

As part of its Conservation Lab column, The Creators Project blog recently ran an article on the restoration of an ancient Japanese scroll at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. The beginning of the article reads as follows:

"If you visit the Museum of Fine Arts Boston these days, you can witness conservation in action on an enormous Japanese hanging scroll, which is currently being remounted in the Asian paintings gallery. Hanabusa Itchō’s masterpiece The Death of the Historical Buddha was painted in 1713 and entered the MFA Boston’s collection in 1911. Though it was last on view in 1990, the scroll hadn’t been treated since 1850. “Usually these scrolls are remounted every 100 years or so, which is why the project was a priority,” Jacki Elgar, Head of Asian Conservation at the museum, tells The Creators Project.

As time goes on, scroll mounts can begin to fail or damage the painting, she explains—this is the most common reason for treatment. A painting might also become a candidate for remounting if the mount is inappropriate (for example, a 16th century painting that is mounted in a 20th century style), or if it was put inside a frame by a Western collector, in which case it can be returned to its original, hanging scroll format.

At 10 feet tall by 6 feet wide, Death of Buddha is the largest scroll in the MFA Boston’s collection, and conservators knew the project would take some extra sets of hands. Lucky for them, the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery is currently closed for renovations, so two of its East Asian painting conservators were able to travel north and join the effort. The MFA Boston began working on the logistics of the project three years ago, and hands-on work in the lab finally began in the spring of this year. In August, the scroll was moved to the Asian paintings gallery so the public could watch the process."

See photos and read the entire article here, and watch the MFA Boston's video of the process below:

Asia Week New York Reading List, Part III: Indian, Himalayan, and Southeast Asian Art

November 30, 2016

We asked some of our participants for their favorite Asian art-related books—both fiction and non-fiction. For Part III of our reading list, we are focusing on Indian, Himalayan, and Southeast Asian art. We hope you'll find inspiration in these pages. These are all available on Amazon, but do support your local bookstore if you can!

Indian Sculpture: Volume I and Indian Sculpture: Volume II
by Pratapaditya Pal

Leiko Coyle of Christie's deems both of these volumes "must-haves for Himalayan art."
"This splendid collection, while not representing all the major styles of sculpture that flourished on the Indian subcontinent from 700-1900, is certainly one of the most comprehensive among American and European museums," reads the synopsis.

Wisdom and Compassion: The Sacred Art of Tibet
by Marilyn M. Rhie

This is another of Coyle's must-haves. It "illustrates, explains and celebrates 241 examples of Tibetan sacred art of the 9th to 12th centuries," according to the synopsis. "The authors discuss the religious meaning and use of tangkas, Buddhist iconography and the aesthetics of tangka paintings, sculpture and mandalas."

Indo Tibetan Bronzes
by Ulrich Von Schroeder

"It is the BIBLE when it comes to Himalayan metalwork," comments Suneet Kapoor of Kapoor Galleries Inc. "Although more valuable for the pictures, it is indispensable when researching the subject matter. No serious Himalayan art enthusiast/scholar is without this book in their library!"

The Art of Indian Asia: Its Mythology and Transformation
by Heinrich Robert Zimmer

Kapoor also recommends this two-volume set, calling it "a perfect primer for those who seek to gain an understanding into the various religions of India & South Asia." The synopsis promises "a unique product of scholarship and photography, which presents a view of Indian Art that is believed to be the most comprehensive ever undertaken."

Indian Painting: The Scene, Themes, and Legends
by John Kenneth Galbraith and Mohinder Singh Randhawa

"The book is engaging to novice readers, yet the illustrations will serve as reference for seasoned collectors, scholars and curators," says Kapoor. "From a personal standpoint, this is a special volume, as both authors were frequent visitors to my father’s gallery during the 1960’s, when he had a gallery in South Extension Market, New Delhi."

Read our other book recommendations:

Asia Week New York Reading List, Part I: Chinese Art
Asia Week New York Reading List, Part II: Japanese Art

Asia Week New York Reading List, Part II: Japanese Art

November 21, 2016

We asked some of our participants for their favorite Asian art-related books—both fiction and non-fiction. For Part II of our reading list, we are focusing on Japanese art. We hope you'll find inspiration in these pages. These are all available on Amazon, but do support your local bookstore if you can!

The Great Wave: Gilded Age Misfits, Japanese Eccentrics, and the Opening of Old Japan
by Christopher E.G. Benfey

Jeffrey Olson, director of the Japanese department at Bonhams, recommends this title, which "tells the story of the tightly knit group of nineteenth-century travelers—connoisseurs, collectors, and scientists—who dedicated themselves to exploring and preserving Old Japan," according to the synopsis.

The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Family's Century of Art and Loss
by Edmund de Waal

Carol Conover of Kaikodo LLC describes it as "a true story about the inheritance of a collection of netsuke, covering three generations in three countries."

In Praise of Shadows
by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki

"I have always loved and treasured this insightful and elegant small book-essay," shares Joan Mirviss. "Written in 1933, it brilliantly captures the essence of the particular aesthetic sensibilities of the Japanese."

The Printmaker's Daughter
by Katherine Govier

"This novel is about the talented artist, Katsushika Oi (ca. 1800 – ca. 1866), who lived under the shadow of her father, the great 19th century Japanese artist, Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849)," says Katherine Martin, the director of Scholten Japanese Art.

She also recommends two novels by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki, Naomi and The Makioka Sisters, adding: "These both capture the dynamic time before World War II in Japan, and some of the art I handle seem to be portraits of the female characters brought to life in these novels."

Read our other book recommendations:

Asia Week New York Reading List, Part I: Chinese Art
Asia Week New York Reading List, Part III: Indian, Himalayan and Southeast Asian Art

Asia Week New York Reading List, Part I: Chinese Art

November 17, 2016

We asked some of our participants for their favorite Asian art-related books—both fiction and non-fiction. For Part I of our reading list, we are focusing on China and Chinese art. We hope you'll find inspiration in these pages. These are all available on Amazon, but do support your local bookstore if you can!

The British Museum Book of Chinese Art
by Jessica Rawson

The staff at J. J. Lally & Co.  say this is "the best book for the general reader looking for a good overview of the basics of Chinese art and culture, and an excellent resource for scholars. The essays are well-written and accompanied by beautiful color illustrations. Even though the book was published over 20 years ago, the scholarly research still stands today and provides a reliable outline of the history of Chinese art."

A Cup of Light
by Nicole Mones

Recommended by Carol Conover, director of Kaikodo LLC, this novel centers on Lia Frank, an American appraiser of Chinese porcelain. "When she is sent to Beijing to authenticate a collection of rare pieces, Lia will find herself changing in surprising ways…coming alive in the shadow of an astounding mystery," reads the synopsis.

Our Great Qing: The Mongols, Buddhism, and the State in Late Imperial China
by Johan Elverskog

Michael Hughes recommends this history book, which provides an "insightful analysis of the principal changes that Mongolian concepts of community, rule, and religion underwent from 1500 to 1900 while offering new insights into Qing and Buddhist history," reads the synopsis.

The China Collectors: America's Century-Long Hunt for Asian Art Treasures
by Karl E. Meyer and Shareen Blair Brysac

Lark Mason of iGavel Auctions calls it "a very interesting insight into the early years of collecting by Americans."

Monks and Merchants: Silk Road Treasures from Northwest China
by Annette L. Juliano and Judith A. Lerner

The staff at J. J. Lally & Co.  recommend this title, describing it as "a catalogue of an excellent exhibition of ancient Chinese, Central Asian and Middle Eastern art and artifacts all found in China. The beautifully illustrated book shows many famous sculptures, including rarities not well published anywhere else. In the wide-ranging catalogue essays by Annette Juliano, Judith Lerner and five other scholars, the story of the mercantile and cultural interaction across great distances over the now famous ‘Silk Road’ is presented in a work of high scholarship. Fascinating to read."

Read our other book recommendations:

Asia Week New York Reading List, Part II: Japanese Art
Asia Week New York Reading List, Part III: Indian, Himalayan and Southeast Asian Art

The Evolution of Chaekgeori: Its Inception and Development from the Joseon Period to Today

November 8, 2016

The exhibition The Power and Pleasure of Possessions in Korean Painted Screens explores the genre of Korean still-life painting known as chaekgeori 冊巨里 (loosely translated as books and things). Chaekgeori [Check-oh-ree, 책거리) was one of the most prolific art forms of Korea’s Joseon dynasty (1392–1910), and it continues to be used today. It often depicts books and other material commodities as symbolic embodiments of knowledge, power, and social reform.
For the first time in United States, more than twenty screen paintings dating from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries of the Joseon dynasty are on view at the Charles B. Wang Center at Stony Brook University in New York from September 29 to December 23, 2016.

Chaekgeori, the Scholar’s Accoutrements. Late nineteenth-century Korea. Ink and color on paper, Ten-panel screen, 78" (H) x 152" (W). Private Collection.
Curated by a group of Korean art experts that includes Byungmo Chung (professor, Gyeongju University), Sunglim Kim (professor, Dartmouth College), Jinyoung Jin(Director of Cultural Programs, Charles B. Wang Center), Sooa Im McCormick (Assistant Curator of Asian Art, Cleveland Museum of Art), and Kris Imants Ercums (Curator of Global Contemporary and Asian Art, Spencer Museum of Art), this collection showcases marvelous and rare examples of chaekgeori screens alongside the works of a diverse body of contemporary artists who continue this genre into the twenty-first century. Seven contemporary artists featured in the exhibition are Stephanie S. Lee, Seongmin Ahn, Kyoungtack Hong, Patrick Hughes, Sungpa, Young-Shik Kim, and Airan Kang.
Initially intended as a means to maintain and promote the disciplined Confucian lifestyle of Joseon Korea against an influx of ideas and technology from abroad, King Jeongjo (1752–1800, r. 1776–1800) encouraged court painters to emphasize books as the main subjects of royal screen paintings and to embrace the power of books and the ideas contained within them. He even went so far as to replace the screen behind his throne with a new chaekgeori screen—an extraordinarily dramatic break from tradition at that time. Realizing that books were vehicles of change in his society, King Jeongjo worked hard to popularize the idea of books as symbols able to transcend the tangible originals among Korea’s artisans and other elites. Yet in process, the value of physical books actually increased, and books were highly sought-after. This desire for books and other commodities in Korea set in motion a significant social and cultural shift toward materialism that continues into the twenty-first century. One can say that chaekgeori paintings not only have the ability to teach and inspire, but they also possess the power to shape the values of a society.

- by Jinyoung Jin, Director of Cultural Programs at the Charles B. Wang Center, Stony Brook University

After its run at the Charles B. Wang Center, the exhibition will travel to the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas (April 8–June 12, 2017), and then to the Cleveland Museum of Art (August 5–November 5, 2017). An exhibition catalogue will be available soon.

Chaekgeori, the Scholar’s Accoutrements. Late nineteenth-century Korea. Ink and color on paper. Six-panel screen, 59" (H) x 114" (W). Private Collection.

Stephanie S. Lee. Cabinet of Desire II, 2016. Natural mineral pigment, colored and gold pigment, ink on Korean mulberry paper. 48" (H) x 50" (W) x 2”(D). Courtesy of the Artist.

Terrorism Art and Antiquity Revenue Prevention Act

October 30, 2016

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.
A long outline of the contents of the bill and the dangers it presents for all buyers, sellers, appraisers, curators, and collectors of antiquities of any kind is provided by the website of the Committee for Cultural Policy.
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.

Interior Designer Spotlight: Geoffrey Bradfield

October 18, 2016

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."

See more of Geoffrey Bradfield's designs below:

SOLD! Bidding Advice for Budding Collectors

October 7, 2016

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."

Good luck and happy bidding!

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