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Christie's New York Asian Art Week

Total of  $70.75 million is second highest ever

September 14-17, 2010

Overview and Highlights of Asian Art Week

(See separate reviews)

Indian and Southeast Asian Art

September 14, 2010 2 PM

Sale 2337

South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art

September 15, 2010  10 AM

Sale 2336

                    Japanese and Korean Art featuring Arts of the Meiji Period
              September 15, 2010, 2 PM
Sale 2338

         The Sze Yuan Tang Archaic Bronzes from the Anthony Hardy Collection
             September 16, 2010, 10 AM
Sale 2508

           Property from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections
(Lots 951-995)
     September 16, 2010, 2:30 PM
   Sale 2509

                Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art 
                 September 16, 2010, 3:30 PM (Lots 1001-1094)/September 17, 2010, 10 AM (Lots 1095-1300) & 2 PM (Lots 1301-1498)
Sale 2339

Untitled by Souza; Dr. Klein; "La Terre" by Raza

Left: Lot 334, “Untitled (Large Head),” by Francis Newton Souza, 1962, oil on canvas, 62 5/8 by 40 5/8 inches, from the collection of the late Robin Howard CBE; Dr. Deepanjana Klein, center; Right: Lot 323, “La Terre,” by Syed Hyder Raza, 1985, acrylic on canvas, 78 by 78 inches, formerly in the collection of Vincent Grimaud, Paris

All Photos except where noted copyright Michele Leight

By Michele Leight  

From September 14-17, 2010, Christie's New York Asian Art Week will offer a dazzling array of art and artifacts from India and Southeast Asia, China, Japan and Korea. Over 1200 lots will be sold in six sales expected to achieve in the region of $45 million dollars, but will most likely exceed this cautious pre-sale estimate.

Theow H. Tow, Deputy Chairman of Christie's Americas and Honoaray Chairman at Christie's Asia said: "This season's sales totaling $70.75 million have shown the market for Asian art, both classical and contemporary, remains extremely vibrant and I am delighted that we achieved the second highest total for Christie's Asian Art Week in New York, and the highest total of $55.5 million for a series of Chinese art sales in New York, a milestone achievement. Throughout the week clients were very eager and competitive for rare and important works with reasonable estimates. Examples of high quality and prestigious provenance across all of the Asian sales performed exceptionally well, especially those from Anthony  Hardy, Dr. and Mrs. William Corbin, Property from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, Julian Sherrier, Jerry Lee Musselwhite, and many otheres. clients from Asia continued to participate strongly, but American and European buyers were equally active, indicating a truly international and robust market."

Hugo Weihe hold Gandaran "Silver Cup"

Dr. Hugo Weihe, Christie’s International Specialist Head, Asian Art, with Lot 39, a Gandharan “Silver Cup” from the Collection of Julian Sherrier (estimate $50,000 to $70,000)

At a press conference, specialists from Christie’s Asian Art departments presented unique and exciting highlights of the sale, some featured here. Dr. Hugo Weihe, Christie’s International Specialist Head, Asian Art, said that with a pre-sale estimate of $10 million, the South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art sale will be the highest value sale of its kind ever offered. The contrast between modern and contemporary and ancient South Asian art and artifacts on offer is spellbinding and thought-provoking, complementing each other in range, quality and beauty.

"Red Carpet III" by Rana

Lot 382, “Red Carpet III,” by Rashid Rana, 2007, chromogenic print and Diasic mounted, 52 3/8 x 72 inches, number one from an edition of five plus one artist proof

Firmly rooted in the present, a cutting edge chromogenic print and Diasic, by Rashid Rana executed in 2007, “Red Carpet III,” (Lot 382, estimate $150,000 to $250,000), comments on contemporary geopolitics via miniaturized, pixelated photographs of slaughtered goats as prescribed by halal law – their gory death skillfully transformed into a gorgeous collage. It is only upon close inspection that the “red carpet” reveals its subject matter.  It sold for $182,500.

Gilt bronze of Amitayus, Tibet, 14th Century
Lot 88 “An Important Gilt Bronze Figure of Amitayus,” Tibet, 14th Century, 16 inches

In total contrast to death and geopolitics is a timeless 14th century Tibetan bronze, Lot 88, (estimate $600,000 to $800,000), “Important Gilt Bronze Figure of Amitayus” depicting the ancient Buddha Amitayus, the Buddha of Infinite Life: amita means infinite and tayus means life. It is an awesome work of art. The creation of the contemporary photo/collage and ancient sculpture featured here span more than six centuries.  It passed.

Untitled by Gupta

Lot 347, “Untitled,” by Subodh Gupta, 2004, oil on canvas, 66 by 90 inches

Roman or Gandarvan silver sieve

Lot 49, “A Silver Sieve,” Roman or Gandhara, circa late 1st century B.C. – early 1st century A.D.

Roman or Gandara silver ladle

Lot 50, “A Silver Ladle,” Gandhara, circa late 1st century B.C.- early 1st century A.D., 8 7/8 inches

Another irresistible comparison is between Subodh Gupta’s painting “Untitled,” (Lot 347, estimate $200,000 to $300,000), featuring contemporary sieves and ladles, an ancient silver Roman or Gandharan sieve (Lot 49, estimate $5000-7000), held in the hand of Sandhya Jain-Patel, and an extremely rare ancient ladle from Gandhara, (Lot 50, estimate $7,000 to $9,000), both dating from the 1st century B.C. to early 1st century A.D., from the Collection of Julian Sherrier, illustrated here.  Lot 347 sold for $112,500.  The top lot of the sale was Lot 33, "A Roman Silver Kantharos, Gandhara, Circa Late 1st Century B.C., which sold for $434,500.

Young girl with Ipod taking a break from Indian Art

A Young Girl with her Ipod takes a break in a gallery filled with Ancient Art (Photo by Carter B. Horsley)

Ancient and Contemporary Asian Art make for compelling viewing as the imagination drifts back and forth in time, playing off against each another in the galleries and offering dynamic insights into the broad sweep of the art history and the history of mankind. It is also a reminder of how very ancient Asia is, even as nations like India and China forge ahead in the contemporary global arena.

Hugo Weihe said: “There is increased interest in India for antiquities, which happened in Chinese art.”

Holding up a stunning “Silver Cup,” with distinctive ribbed walls, the cover lot of the collection, (Lot 39, estimated at $50,000 to $70,000), Mr. Weihe said:

“There is no other like it in private hands.”  It sold for $56,250.

"Scars of an  Ancient Error" by Santosh

Lot 387, “Scars of an Ancient Error,” by T.V. Santosh, 2006, oil on canvas, 54 by 70 inches

This cup is also from the collection of Gandharan silver from the Collection of Julian Sherrier that will be auctioned on Tuesday September 14th. Dr. Weihe said it is associated with Taxila, a famous Gandharan archaeological site, dating to the late 1st century B.C. – early 1st century A.D., and other fine and rare examples of sieves, ladles, goblets, cups, medallions and bowls from The Collection of Julian Sherrier are inscribed with the owner’s or donor’s names, of Greek, Scythian, Iranian and mostly Indian origin, reflecting the vibrant exchange of concepts, ideas - and unique material goods - at the crossroads of Asia at a pivotal moment in civilization.

Sandya Jain Patel, Christie’s Indian and Southeast Asian Art, said how few examples of cooking and dining utensils like those from the Julian Sherrier have survived, given their age and delicacy. Also from Gandhara is a beautifully sculpted head of Buddha, illustrated below.

Gray Schist head of Buddha, Gandara, 2nd-3rd Century

Lot 17, “A Gray Schist Head of Buddha,” Gandhara, 2nd-3rd Century, 7 inches, estimate $25,000 to $35,000

Fast forwarding to the modern and contemporary era, Dr. Weihe spoke about the late Robin Howard C.B.E., a legendary collector and patron of the arts, who had a close association with the artist F.N. Souza, and whose “Untitled (Large Head)” is a highlight of this sale, reviewed at length in the section on South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art.

"La Terre" by Raza

Lot 323, “La Terre,” by Syed Hyder Raza, 1985, acrylic on canvas, 78 by 78 inches, estimate $2,000,000 to $2,500,000

Citing a spectacular work by Syed Hyder Raza, “La Terre,” Dr. Deepanjana Klein from Christie’s Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art Department offered further insights into the challenges of acquiring works of this caliber. In June 2010, a painting by Raza, “Saurashtra,” dating from the same period in his artistic career, in exactly the same dimensions, made history at Christie’s in London when it fetched $3,486,965, a world auction record for the artist, and a new world auction record for any Modern Indian work of art. Deepanjana Klein said: “ Of course, breaking the record helped us be able to approach other collectors with works of this caliber.”  Lot 323 sold for  $1,932,500. It was the top lot of the sale.

"Kahlki" by Atul Dodiya

Atul Dodiya’s shop-shutter installation “Kalki,” Lot 392, with an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000, with shutter closed - see below for photos of “Kalki” with shutter open

Modern works by F.N. Souza  “Untitled (Large Head),” Lot 334, with an estimate of $1.2 million to $1.8 million, painted in 1962, and Syed Hyder Raza’s magnificent “La Terre” (Lot 323, $2,000,000 to $2,500,000), a masterpiece painted in 1985, are illustrated at the top of this story, and above. Dr. Klein was enthusiastic about Subodh Gupta’s two fantastic “utensil” paintings and Lot 383, wittily entitled “Two Cows,” (estimate $280,000 to $350,000), a favorite of this reviewer, and a “shop-shutter” installation entitled “Kalki,” by Atul Dodiya, (Lot 392, estimate $180,000 to $250,000), painted in 2002. This is a gem that would enhance any collection. She also cited two important paintings by T.V. Santosh on offer at this sale, an artist who has garnered a global fan club with his boldly colored, solarized, photographic imagery. Lot 387, “Scars of an Ancient Error,” is estimated at $100,000 to $150,000, is illustrated here. It sold for $122,500.  Lot 334 sold for $1,426,500.  Lot 383 sold for $542,500.

Tina Zonars, International Director of Chinese Works of  Art said after the auction: "Today's auction was a phenomenal end to Asian Art Week. The strength of the Chinese art market combined with an extraordianry group of works of supreme quality and works of art that came from prestifious private collections including the Dr. and Mrs. William L. Corbin Collection, the Palmer Collection, The Richard Rosenblum Collection and many others. The Sackler name once again proved irresistible to bidders, resulting in a sale total of $686,000, far exceeding the pre-sale estimate. Combined, the two sales were 94% sold by value, which reflects the robust and escalating market for the traditional collecting categories for Chinese Art."

"Important and rare bronze wine vessel and cover, fangyi

Lot 822, “An Important and Rare Bronze Wine Vessel and Cover, Fangyi, Late Shang Dynasty, Anyang, 12th-11th Century B.C.

Reversing back to the 11th –12th century B.C, Michael Bass, Co-Head of the Chinese sale highlighted several spectacular “Sze Yuan Tang Archaic Bronzes from the Anthony Hardy Collection:

“Bronze was a medium for showing off your wealth,” he said, and then raised the cover of Lot 822, “An Important and Rare Bronze Wine Vessel and Cover, Fangyi,” (estimate $1.2-1.8 million) that leads sale and dates from the late Shang dynasty, Anyang, 12th-11th century BC., offering an enticing view of the interior.  Strewn with dragons and encrusted with malachite, this extraordinary artifact was clearly owned by a very important person. Mr. Bass added: “they used millet wine that was flavored with tree resin, spices and herbs.” It must have been quite an experience to drink from this – hefty - status symbol. If the owner could afford to commission such a wine vessel, it is more than likely that he had an attendant to do the heavy lifting.  It sold for $3,330,500. It was the top lot of the sale.

Michael Bass and Christopher Engle, Co-Heads of Sale, Chinese Works of Art, New York, said: "Today's sale demonstrated strong enthusiasm across all categories supported mainly by private collectors worldwide. In a salesroom packed for two full days, we witnessed numerous record rices including those achieved for th very rare carved rhinoceros horn "log-raft" cup ($3,106,500 million), a magnificent white jade brush pot ($1,762,500 million), and a handsome set of Zitan armchairs ($506,500). The momentum continued unabated throughout the afternoon session with outstanding results achieved for the exceptionally rare early Ming monochorme ceramics from the Corbin Collection, including the imperial white-glazed deep bowl ($1,178,500), the pale celadon-glazed compressed globular jar ($1,082,500), and the imperial yellow-glazed dish ($902,500). We were extremely pleased with the exceptional results, which eclipsed the previous record for a series of Chinese art sales in New York by $15 million."

Magnificent white jade cylindrical brush pot discussed by Michael Bass

Lot 1155, “A Magnificent and Finely Carved White Jade Cylindrical Brush Pot, Bitong, Quianglong Period, (1736-1795), 6 inches johj

Michael Bass then spoke about Lot 1357, “An Extremely Rare Pale Celadon-Glazed Compressed Globular Jar,” from the Yongle Period, (1403-1425), with an estimate of $300,000 to $500,000), and tw o incredible jades, Lot 1155, “A Magnificent and Finely Carved White Jade Brush Pot,” shown above, with an estimate of $700,000 to $900,000, and Lot 956, “A Rare Greyish-Green and Opaque Buff Jade ‘Toothed’ Pendant Fragment,” from the Neolithic Period, circa 3500-3000 B.C., (estimate $30,000 to $50,000), illustrated below, from The Arthur M. Sackler Collections.  

Rare opaque buff jade "toothed" pendant fragment, Neolithic Period

Lot 956, “A Rare Greyish-Green and Opaque Buff Jade ‘toothed’ Pendant Fragment,” Neolithic Period, Hongshan Culture, circa 3500-3000 B.C.

“Jade is also a sign of prestige,” said Mr. Bass, holding the tiny fragment, which once was part of a larger pendant, found in a tomb. Lot 956 measures a diminutive 3 inches, and is from the Hongshan culture (circa 4000-2500), which flourished in southeastern Inner Mongolia and western Liaoning province. It seems to depict a creature with sizeable tusks, however it remains mysteriously abstract, a mythological beast or creature - or perhaps the pre-historic ancestor of the venerable Yak. We shall never know, but that only makes it more fascinating.  Sadly, it passed.

Cloisonne-enamel vase, Meiji Period

Lot 582, “A Large Cloisonne-Enamel Vase,” Meiji Period (1890s), signed on base on square plaque Kyoto Namikawa (Workshop of Namikawa Yasuyuki, 1854-1927), and with initials G.P. on the exterior of the enamel foot

Katsura Yamaguchi, Christie’s International Head of Japanese Art tenderly held “A Large Cloisonne-Enamel Vase,” (Lot 582, estimate $300,000 to $400,000), from the Meiji Period, (1890s), that was strikingly beautiful in its “spare-ness.” This quality is reflected in many works of the period that are a strong focus of this sale, he said, which is entitled “Japanese and Korean Arts of the Meiji Period.”  It passed.

This slender, ovoid masterpiece was created in the workshop of Namikawa Yasuyuki of Kyoto, one of the most famous cloisonne-enamel artists of Japan. The initials GP and its fairly large size confirm its status as the private order of an unidentified Western client. It is decorated with a cherry tree, two handsome cockerels, and a few plants set against a predominantly luscious black polychrome background. Mr. Yamaguchi was moved to describe it further:

“There is so much empty space – it looks quite quiet. Not all Japanese Art is flashy and gold.”

Lacquer book cabinet, Meiji Period

Lot 607, “A Lacquer Book Cabinet (Shodana), Meiji Period (Late 19th Century), signed Heian Zohiko Sakusei (Zohiko Company, Kyoto)

Another outstanding work of art from the Meiji Period, Lot 607, “A Lacquer Book Cabinet,” (Shodana),” (estimate $350,000 to $450,000), signed Heian Sakusei, is described in detail in the full review of Japanese Art.  Sadly, it passed.

8-panel screen on silk, Royal Banquet for 50th anniversary of Emperor Gojong

Lot 728, “Anonymous (Joseon Dynasty, July 1901), Royal Banquet for the Celebration of the 50th Birthday of the Emperor Gojong; Eight-panel screen; ink and color on silk, 59 by 19 1/8 inches    

Heakyum Kim, from the Department of Korean Art at Christie’s described a screen entitled “Royal Banquet for the Celebration of the 50th Birthday of the Emperor Gojong,” (Lot 728, “Anonymous, Joseon Dynasty, July 1901). Emperor Gojong was a hero of Korean nationalism, and this important event lasted several days and is immortalized in a magnificent eight-paneled screen:

“In the first and second panels, no women are present, because they depict a large public event with members of the royal clan, government officials and foreign guests. On the third day women participated at a more private banquet, reserved for family members” said Ms. Kim with a smile.

Any party heavy on the officials without any women would be a very dull affair, but presumably once they were on board everyone had a great time. This fantastic screen meticulously records details such as the food and drink served, seating arrangements, musical instruments, flowers and costumes. It is possibly the last example of a Korean royal banquet screen ever produced. In 1910 Korea was annexed to Japan. Gojong died in confinement in his palace in 1919. Lot 728 has an estimate of $300,000 to $350,000.  It sold for  $842,500.  It was  the top lot of the sale.

Assembled deities by Doilk

Lot 697, “Assembled Deities,” by Doil (active 19th century), Hamyun, Munwu, Wanik, Myeonsun, Sanghui; dated intercalary 11th month, 1812 and inscribed with temple name Heungguksa, Sncheon-bu, Mount Yeongchuk, and with artists names; hanging scroll: ink, color and gold on silk, 41 by 37 inches

A wonderful hanging scroll, Lot 697, “Assembled Deities,” painted in 1812 and illustrated here, is from The Jerry Lee Musslewhite Collection of Korean Art, has an estimate of $15,000 to $20,000.  It sold for $52,500.

"Densely Packed" by Gupta, left; "Karuna" by Dodiya, center; and "Two Cows" by Gupta, right

Left: Lot 388, “Densely Packed,” by Subodh Gupta, 2004, oil on canvas, 65 5/8 by 89 5/8 inches; Center: Lot 386, “Karuna,” by Atul Dodiya, 2004-2006, enamel paint, synthetic varnish and acrylic expoxy on laminate, 71 inches by 48 inches; Right: Lot 383, “Two Cows,” by Subodh Gupta, “Two Cows, installation with 2 bicycles, 8 milk cans; from an edition of three.               

The first time I visited the Christie’s gallery exhibiting South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art, Atul Dodiya’s “Karuna” had not yet arrived. I was rewarded on my second visit a day later, as it had just been brought into the gallery, and was resting between Subodh Gupta’s superb “Densely Packed,” (shown at left, Lot 388, estimate $250,000 to $300,000) and Lot 383, iconic “Two Cows,” also by Gupta, (shown at right, estimate $280,000 to $300,000). Dodiya is a resident of Mumbai, and “Karuna” (Lot 386, shown at center) is from a series of allegorical paintings featuring his city’s film industry, with imagery from Bollywood and Indian cinema. This is done with tender irony, utilizing the vocabulary of western contemporary art. This painting is as fabulously Indian as it gets, and has an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000.  Lot 383 sold for $542,500.  Lot 386 sold for $110,500.  Lot 388  sold for $290,500.

In addition to all the treasures on offer during Asian Art Week, Christie’s is presenting an exhibition entitled “Trans-Realism” with The Center of International Cultural Exchange, China (CICE), a free exhibition featuring paintings, drawings and prints by 17 Chinese contemporary artists, on view at Christie’s Rockefeller Center from September 9-26, 2010.


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