Archive for the ‘Chinese’ Category

Museum for Vancouver

SINGAPOREAN BILLIONAIRE plans to build Asian Art Museum in Vancouver  dedicated to Asian and Buddhist Art.

Oei Hong Leon, a part time resident of Vancouver, loves Buddhism “not so much as religion but as a personal philosophy “. He owns about 50,000 pieces now housed in a private museum in Singapore.

At the same time the Vancouver International Centre of Contemporary Asian Art, and proponents like Robert H. N. Ho and China’s Poly Culture Group have suggested to build a museum for Chinese Art in Vancouver. My comment: The Poly Culture Group operates as a culture and art company in China – as art business and auction, as performance and theater management and as cinema investment and management company – all specially fostered by China Poly Group, a gigantic state owned Chinese business- if I am not mistaken.

And Poly Culture has launched a flagship art gallery for rare artifacts from Beijing’s Famous Summer Palace – in Vancouver.

I must visit Vancouver soon!!!





An interesting situation developed for a Chinese National Treasure— a painting hanging in the Forbidden Palace in Beijing and by some scholars long thought not to be the original by the Five Dynasties court painter Zhou Wenju (active  942-961) but a rendering by the Sung  Emperor Zhou who delighted in rendering or making studies of earlier masterworks— an activity often encountered in Chinese art.


The book “Original Intentions” edited by Nicholas Pearce and Jason Steuber deals extensively with productions, reproductions and interpretations in the arts of China (University Press of Florida 2012). Such later renderings of original works of art make it often enormously difficult to authenticate Chinese paintings. And who is to say whether  the original or the  exact rendering of the original should be worth more?
Now a painting has surfaced in New York  that is thought to be the original  done by the artist himself. The painting will be offered by Gianguan Auctions, formerly Hong Kong Auctions on March 19th. The painting is titled “Chess Game abut of Screen”.
I am curious who is behind Gianguan Auctions?  A quick internet search:
Gianguan Auctions

Gianguan Auctions (also known as Hong Kong Auctions) specializes in Chinese and Asian arts and has a wide clientele from China and Asia. Established in Hong Kong in 2002, a New York office opened in 2004. Four times a year, auctions are held at the Lefcourt Building on New York’s Madison Ave. Under the management of Mr. Kwong Lum, Gianguan has successfully sourced high-quality consignments that has resulted in record prices. Recently, Mr. Lum was appointed by Beijing’s National Museum’s Appraisal Centre as its chief consultant, an exceptional honour, which solidifies their reputation as experts in Chinese, antiques.

Gianguan Auctions Fine Chinese Art Auctions include an important selection of American Chinese private collections of traditional painting and calligraphy, bronzes, porcelain, jade and scholars items, dating from the Soong Dynasty to contemporary time with representations from each period”.

Go to to see the catalogue of their upcoming auction.
Elisabeth and Natasha


Yes there is some.
The spotlight has very long now been on very hot and very much in demand Chinese art resulting in sometimes exorbitant prices and sometimes these sales are not paid for.  But this is not what I want to talk about.
Lark Mason ( the Chinese art and antiques expert, independent curator, appraiser, consultant, educator and author and founder and president of iGavel Auctions and Chairman of Asia Week New York said something recently that resonated with me:
There are several areas of  fine, tribal and folk Asian art that can be purchased for under $ 5,000. He pointed to several areas:  Meiji period (1868-1912), (and later Japanese art I might add) such as bronze, ceramic and lacquer objects. I can think of several that recently sold at auction in the $ 1,200 to $ 5,000 range. Depending on your budget there are  also Japanese screens, Japanese contemporary ceramics, 19th century Japanese paintings all available in a reasonable price range.
Mr. Mason also mentioned art from Southeast Asia Thailand, Burma, Cambodia, Sri Lanka (and Laos and Indonesia I might add). SEA art is my specialty and I follow it closely. Many pieces especially from Cambodia can be quite expensive in comparison with the neighboring countries.
And there are Japanese woodblock prints. I just read a press release by Scholten Japanese Art participating in Asia Week with the exhibition: Ukiyo-e Tales: Stories from the Floating World. Most of you are familiar with color woodblock prints  and many were made in huge quantities, are still available in large quantities or at least later renditions thereof. Authentic prints, perhaps from the 18th and early 19th century, from a specific genre (kabuki actors, beautiful woman, warriors, erotica, etc), by an artist who did not produce so many prints and might be less known can be a good find and a little more expensive but still very reasonable for such a work of art. Scholten offers a very fine print by Eisen dated ca. 1830 for $ 3,800.
A dealer whose Japanese prints I have followed for a long time – – offers several 20th century ukiyo-e prints between $ 5,000 and $ 10,000 and I wish I would have purchased them when these artists were in the $ 2,000 range and it was not that long ago.  Check them out and his more recent prints.
Martha Sutherland of  M. Sutherland mentions Chinese album leaf paintings by well known artists  to be quite affordable, under $ 5,000, whereas larger  works  by the same artists would be quite expensive.
I must not forget India having recently appraised some Chola pieces I am aware of the  high price tag but there are lesser known periods of Indian art, such as Nayak period as pointed out by Sanjay Kapoor of Kapoor Galleries.
So we should all have fun and  focus on one reasonably priced niche of Asian art it is quite doable! Very dangerous for me who has accumulated more than I can handle.
Elisabeth and Natasha


The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in Morningside Heights in New York has two monumental Phoenix birds suspended in the nave. Fashioned from salvaged construction material in China the birds have feathers fashioned from layers of shovels, crowns made from old hard hats and bodies from jackhammers — unexpected junkyard material very elegantly transformed into a male and female Phoenix bird. As is true with many works of art from China, the conceptual artist Xu Bing interprets many cultural and political ideas with his Phoenix birds. For me the fact that these Chinese birds are inside a massive Gothic style cathedral in New York is amazing – they were welcomed by the Very Rev. Dr. James A. Kowalsky, the Dean of St. John the Divine. He says that the birds create a discourse and that Mr. Xu is a global citizen “who sees from this debris the human condition”

Here is the link to the NYT article.

Link to the Cathedral website:

The Art of Continuity: Revering our Elders

November 23, 2013 Leave a comment

The Art of Continuity: Revering our Elders


The Art of Continuity: Revering our Elders

December 14, 2013 – January 5, 2014.

So much Chinese art – painting, sculpture and other objects are connected with ancestor worship, reverence for elders, Confucian family values, rituals for guiding them through transition to afterlife. This exhibit features paintings and sculpture from East Asia and Papua New Guinea.

Check it out!




October 30, 2013 Leave a comment

at the

What is interesting is the use of 3D miniature buildings  placed on the ground plan of the Forbidden City for this exhibit.  The exhibition  will be open until February 2nd, 2014 and includes a number of  sumptuous luxury items made exclusively for  the Imperial Court as well as some exquisite  erotic  drawings from the Ferdinand Bertholet collection.





October 29, 2013 Leave a comment


ART MARKET (not often seen)

ART MARKET IN CHINA (rarely seen)

FORGING  (seen with some frequency not necessarily front page)

Who will make this into  movie? 

I am in the middle of authenticating and appraising for insurance purposes and perhaps resale purposes, for a Chinese born client several 18th and 19th century porcelains (no problem) and several black ink on paper paintings signed  Qi Baishi (will not do this). Client explained that there were many high  auction records in China for similar ceramics and paintings. Yes there are and I was about  to explain that the Chinese auction market has played havoc with appraisal values and with auction results,  and with transparency, and why a Chinese artist may want to render something in an earlier style to pay respects to an earlier master  (all so  clearly set out in a book I recently blogged about: ORIGINAL INTENTIONS, ESSAYS ON PRODUCTION, REPRODUCTION, AND INTERPRETATION IN THE ARTS OF CHINA, Pearce/Steuber, 2012 University Press of Florida), and that as an appraiser at this time, we cannot rely so much on Chinese auction records.

But instead I handed my client the NYT article spread over three and one half pages! The article  explains why the art market in China has taken off so fast over the last few years, why Chinese artists rank first  or seem to rank first as best selling artists in the world, why  auction prices in China are so high, what in the Chinese culture  entices the Chinese buyer to buy and then not infrequently not pay,  how the reverence for earlier masterworks  is  seen as contributing to forgeries as I mentioned above,  and why the raising of a paddle in the west and in China seems to have different interpretations.

Here it is: