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ASIAN ART The newspaper for collectors, dealers, museums and galleries • june 2005 • £5.00/US$8/€10 THE NEWSPAPER FOR COLLECTORS, DEALERS, MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES • MAY 2018 • £5.00/US$10/€10

Stratospheric Prices for Extraordinary Works

In just over a decade the Asian art market has gone from seeing modest achievements for works of art to a casual acceptance of million-dollar figures arriving at most auction series – with the main influence being the arrival of hungry

Chinese things come up for

flooding the market. And we have seen the most extraordinary, beautiful, and rare

sale. In

Sotheby’s Hong Kong Spring sales, held end of this March/early April, three Chinese works of art sold for over HK$100 million – in just one morning: HM Knight’s Kangxi-period, gold-pink falangcai bowl (Asian Art Newspaper, April 2018 cover), not seen on the market for over 30 years, which sold for over HK$239 million; Xuande-period,

two sets of brocaded leporello

albums of illuminated Wisdom Sutra commissioned by imperial order that sold for over HK$239 million, creating a new auction record for a Buddhist manuscript, and the imperial handscroll,

Ten Auspicious Landscapes of Taishan by Qian Weicheng, which sold for $147 million.


Of course, price is linked to rarity and the works of art that achieved these prices on 3 April were once-in-a- lifetime purchases. Te imperial falangcai bowl was the finest example ever to come onto the market with only one similar example known – in the National Palace Museum in Taipei. Te Ming-dynasty Wisdom Sutra albums, considered by some to the most important Buddhist manuscripts to have appeared at auction, were commissioned by the emperor Xuande, who only ruled for 10 years (1425- 1435). Te sutras were in pristine condition and the only surviving example outside the National Palace Museum in Taipei. Te handscroll by renowned imperial court painter Qian Weicheng is considered one of his masterpieces and inscribed with 10 poems by the emperor. Te period the

painting was created is highly desirable to a collector of Chinese works of art – the reign of Qianlong. Te handscroll was

of many buyers for the first time. Back to the 2018 Spring sales. Tey

mentioned in the Qianlong

emperor’s catalogue of court art in Te Sequel to the Precious Collection of the Stone Canal Pavilion and then more recently recorded as being kept in the Ningshou Gong of the Forbidden City and was given by the last emperor Puyi to his younger brother Pujie in the early 1920s. So no surprise these combined

Spring sales for Sotheby’s had spectacular results – achieving a total of HK$3.64 billion (US$466.5 million), the second highest series in the company’s history. It runs second to the Hong Kong autumn 40th anniversary celebrations in 2013 that achieved HK$4.1 billion (then US$525 million). It was when Te Last Supper by Zeng Fanzhi sold for over HK$180 million (over US$23 million).

Bringing Chinese contemporary to the attention

proved that there is still a consistent demand in the market, with this series showing an average sell-through rate of 89%. So, there is no lessening of desire for the extraordinary,


beautiful, and most importantly the outrageously rare. And plenty of cash to buy it. However, as we have often seen, the middle market may still be suffering with all this, unless it is seen as a new area in which to collect with the possibility of growth in value. Te statistics go on … 20 auction

Detail from two sets of brocade leporello albums of the Wisdom Sutra commissioned by the Xuande emperor (1425-1435), 15th century, executed using liquid gold on indigo-coloured goat-brain ritual paper, sold at Sotheby’s for HK$239 million


Oceans Formed: Glass Works by Midori Tsukada

May 24 – June 21, 2018 Opening Reception:

T ursday, May 24, 6 – 8 p.m.

NEW JAPANESE CURATOR, METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART, NEW YORK Diane and Arthur Abbey, well-known New York collectors of Japanese bamboo art, have established an endowment for a curatorship in the Metropolitan Museum’s Department of Asian Art. In recognition of their gift, the position has been named the Diane and Arthur Abbey Curatorship for Japanese Decorative Arts. Assistant Curator Monika Bincsik, who joined the department five years ago, is the first incumbent, and took up her position earlier in the year. Te curatorship is the first endowed position for Japanese decorative arts in the museum’s history. Te Abbeys designated more than 70 works of Japanese bamboo art as promised gifts to Te Met with most of these being featured in the recent exhibition: Japanese Bamboo Art: Te Abbey Collection, which was curated by Monika Bincsik. Te exhibition (June 2017 to February 2018), attracted more than 420,000 visitors. Bincsik specializes in Japanese decorative arts, especially lacquer. She grew up in Budapest, Hungary, and received her PhD in Budapest for a dissertation on the history of collecting Japanese art in the West.

AGA KHAN PRIZE FOR MUSIC His Highness the Aga Khan has announced the establishment of the Aga Khan Music Awards. Tese awards, which come with US$ 500,000 in prizes, recognise exceptional creativity, promise, and enterprise in music performance, creation, education, preservation and revitalisation in societies across the world in which Muslims have a significant presence. Te first Music Awards ceremony is scheduled to take place in Lisbon, Portugal from 29-31 March 2019 and will be co-hosted by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the Lisbon Municipality. Tese musical genres and styles embody music’s traditional Continued on page 2

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records in 19 auctions in 6 days. Te sales beat the weekly footfall of many museum exhibitions at 30,000 people during the week. And you can always celebrate with a glass of wine - the wine auctions also achieved a world record with a 100% of the 1,758 lots sold … One must wonder where all this is going … are there any brakes or are we just heading for the stars?

Inside 2 5


10 12 14 16 19 20


Profile: the artist Adel Abdessemed Guo Jian - Chinese artist in exile in Australia The age of discovery and Japan’s global Baroque A guide to Cultures and Asian Art in Brussels

Minority textiles in China, the craft of the Kam people in Guizhou Figures in Islamic Art, at the David Collection in Copenhagen New York Asia Week auction reviews

Auction previews in Hong Kong, London and Sydney

East and Southeast Asian ceramics in Vienna, Lee Bae in St-Paul de

Vence, Junya Ishigami in Paris Contemporary gallery shows in New York: Japanese ceramics, Japanese glass, and Chinese contemporary art

22 23

The International Antiques Fair, Hong Kong Listings

Islamic Arts Diary

Next issue June/Summer Quarter 2018 People, travel, summer exhibitions

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