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Ming dynasty porcelain vase sold for HK$167.8 million

Hong Kong,  Shanghai or Beijing  — which is the fairest of all ?


We know that Hong Kong is the world’s third  largest auction market and now a new museum for contemporary art is in the planning stage to rival New York and London.  Artfix Daily just wrote an article about this
 
 
 
 
A Ming dynasty porcelain vase sold for HK$167.8 million ($21.6 million) including buyer’s premium, at a Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong.
(Sotheby’s)

Beijing and Shanghai have long had significant art scenes, and been home to a number of notable artists, such as Beijing’s high-profile Ai Weiwei (who recently sold his “Sunflower Seeds 2010” to the Tate Modern for an undisclosed amount). 

Yet, it is Hong Kong that has fast become a contender in the art world; known for its trade and finance the city is poised to become Asia’s art capital. 

Beginning in 2007, the former British territory has held the position of world’s third largest art auction market, after New York and London. As of 2008, Hong Kong has hosted a successful contemporary art fair; the inaugural edition drew 19,000 visitors, and representatives from 100 galleries, numbers that have more than doubled.

Hong Kong’s artist community, however, is still small and the expense of living in the city means that artists must often work day jobs to support themselves.  Finding open studio space is also tricky.

Also lacking was a significant museum, but now plans are underway for a contemporary art museum, which would open to the public in 2018.  An international competition for the building design will be held this year and plans include 20,000 square meters of exhibition space.  The ambitious project aims to rival with New York’s Museum of Modern Art and London’s Tate Modern.

On an earnings conference call Feb. 29, Sotheby’s CEO William Ruprecht and CFO William Sheridan said China was an “underpenetrated” market. With consolidated sales of $1 billion, the company plans to open new premises in Hong Kong which will have competition in strong mainland auction houses such as Beijing Poly International and China Guardian Auctions.

Hong Kong has already attracted a number of well-known art galleries, including London’s White Cube, which accommodates the area’s newly wealthy collectors. Graham Steele, the gallery’s Asia director, said to the BBC, “The energy of the city is very seductive for dealers and artists. It’s a scene that’s about to blossom and in a really great way.”

Whether the nascent gallery scene expands will depend on whether China can continually produce the buyers and sustain its economic upward trajectory. MarketWatch points out that, according to the World Bank, almost all of China’s growth since 2008 has come from “government influenced expenditure”.

(Report: Christine Bolli for ARTFIXdaily)

CHINESE ART IN AN AGE OF REVOLUTION: FU BAOSHI

January 31, 2012 Leave a comment

CHINESE ART IN AN AGE OF REVOLUTION: FU BAOSHI (1904-1965)

METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART
 
 
“Often After Being Drunk” reads the seal on several of Fu’s  paintings – not an uncommon state to be in for  intelligentsia and artists.
Fu Baoshi  who was a brush and ink painter, a historian and an accomplished seal carver, lived in tumultuous times.  Throughout his career, Fu had to remain flexible, make some accommodations with the Communists to remain alive and in China – unlike some of his contemporaries he did not leave the country. Some 70 paintings and 20 seals never shown outside China are included in this exhibit that has been organized under the auspices of the classic Chinese Painting Department  and Maxwell Hearn, the Met’s head of the Asian Art, by a joint cooperation of the Nanjing Museum and the Cleveland Museum  of Art ( see my blog about the Xu Beihong exhibit currently at the Cleveland till January 29th). Fu Baoshi  who is one of the best figure and landscape artists of  20th century China, is best known for his mist-shrouded  and rain-swept mountain scenes. 
 
 

CONTEMPORARY BURMESE ART BY BURMESE ARTISTS IN BURMA

November 16, 2011 Leave a comment
A recent article in the NYT (October 23rd) highlighted Burmese Artists. It explained that contemporary or modern Burmese art had been slow in developing because of lack of interest, lack of local support and at one time, political censorship. Several galleries were mentioned: 
 
River Gallery in the old Strand Hotel in Yangon. 
New Treasure Art Gallery, owned by Min Wae Aung; also offering an artist in residency program. 
 
The painting featured in the NYT  of five monk figures rendered in a somewhat abstract style – that I liked most –  was by Min Wae Aung and it said that his paintings sell for up to $ 20,000 through galleries in Hong Kong, London and Paris. 
 
Burma has such a rich  Buddhist cultural tradition that one does not expect impressionistic oil paintings, paintings of nudes, and abstract art. Artists have flourished and been censored and neglected but survived, depending on patronage and political  climate  and Burmese art will surely continue to blossom.  What is surprising to me is how frequently Burmese artists seem to exhibit in places like Hong Kong, London and Paris – considering how isolated the country is politically.  But art always finds a way!
 
This is the link to the article: New Vistas for Burmese Artists
 
This painting is by Min Wae Aung, titled Monks on the Morning Round, and I found it on dhammaweb.net. It conveys the style I like.
 
 

SOUTHEAST ASIAN ARTISTS AT AUCTIONS

September 15, 2011 Leave a comment
I neglected  to report  on one of my favorite fields  – SEA art by native as well as western artists who have settled in SEA- 20th century artists from Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia –  if Chinese paintings are too expensive for you, you may want to follow SEA art auctions  taking place in Hong Kong and Singapore. I can remember when an Affandi was not out of the question for a regular budget – now you would have to buy  his ink on paper drawings if you want to find something under $ 10,000/20,000.  And what about Theo Meier, Rudolf Bonnet, Walter Spies, Ari Smitt? The last Ari Smitt I appraised about four years ago, a large floral acrylic was approximately  $ 14,000 – but no more!   
 
Adrien-Jean Le Mayeur de Merpres was always more expensive but in the recent Christie’s  Hong Kong auction on May 30th,  a  painting titled  Temple Festival in Bali went for  US $ 989,450; his works  sold in the $ 300,000 to $ 400,000 range some five years ago. But not all paintings are readily sold.  It took me some time to broker a painting by the Philippine painter Tabuena but it was easy to sell a Fernando Amorsolo. 
There is an art market for artists from Cambodia and Thailand, right now mainly handled through dealers and prices have steadily gone up. While there is a large expatriate artist community in Bali, it is mainly  ethnic Thai and Cambodian painters. I have clients who wish to sell their Thai paintings from the 1960’s/1970’s and I will probably work on this soon!
 
A client asked me who commanded higher prices, the expats or the local artists? There are several artists like Affandi, and the eccentric  Indian artist Maqbool Fida Husain (although he died a Quatari national on June 9, 2011) who command very high prices – but not in comparison with Chinese artists.  I would say that with some exceptions, the expat artists sell for less at the moment. 
 
Christie’s has two sales for South Asian, Indian and SEA art. 1. South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art, September 13, 2011 in NYC, including quite a few Jamini Roy, some not too expensive, M.F. Husain ($ 300,000-$ 500,000), Souza (including several very interesting ink on paper drawings estimated under $ 3,000; and 2. Indian and Southeast Asian Art, September 13, 2011, NYC. I selected a few items that appealed to me……
 
 
 
 
 

SCULPTURE AT THE NATIONAL ART MUSEUM OF CHINA IN BEIJING

If you are passionate about sculpture (rather than paintings) like I am, you will welcome hearing more about Chinese sculptural artists.
 
Xu Dong Rong shows more than twenty of his works at an exhibition at the National Art Museum of China in June 2011. Check it out at www.namoc.org/en
 
This piece is carved from one single slab of natural white marble.
 

Japanese Art Does Well

STRONG SALES AND ATTENDANCE AT JAPANESE  ART EXHIBITIONS  AND AUCTIONS DURING ASIA WEEK NEW YORK 2011

 
(Lacquer Paddle-Shaped Writing Box, Meiji period (1868 –1912), circa 1910, Courtesy Erik Thomsen Asian Art / Japanese Art Dealers Association.)
 
 
According to JADA (Japanese  Art Dealers Association) attendance at JADA dealers grew by 25% over the preceding year. JADA members exhibited in their galleries, hosted out-of-town dealers at their galleries and also exhibited  at the Ukrainian Institute of America on 79th Street. The number of visitors to JADA 2011 grew by 25%.  My favorite pieces (to dream about) were an Arita figure of a seated beauty with wonderful enamel work, sold by Sebastian Izzard LLC Asian Art, and a pair of large  Momoyama ink on gold leaf screens with wave and rock design offered and sold by Leighton R. Longhi, Inc. 
 
Also during Asia Week, Bonham’s and Christie’s held very successful Japanese auctions. 
 
I feel that Japanese art sales are coming back. In general prices achieved  are still well under the figures we saw a number of years ago (except for a number of rare items)  and  now  is the time to buy Japanese art and antiques! 
 
 

Western Women Artists Active in Asia


VISION OF THE ORIENT: WESTERN WOMEN ARTISTS IN ASIA 1900-1940
Exhibition at the  Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, CA, March 4-May 29, 2011. 
This is a fascinating exhibit showing the influence Western art had on Asian art and vice versa,  Eastern art interpreted by Western artists in the Orientalist manner. The exhibit shows works of  art created by Helen Hyde (1868-1919), Bertha Lum (1869-1954), Elizabeth Keith (1887-1956), and Lillian Miller (1895-1942). All of these women  were active  and lived in Japan, were originally trained as painters and also worked on remarkable woodblock prints. While there were a few European artists living in Asia, it was fairly unusual for Western female artists to live in Japan at that time.  These artists, while born in the West, collaborated closely with Japanese artists, publishers and  teachers. They frequently portrayed Asian subjects  and they adopted the Japanese art of woodblock print making.  Their art is sought after  by Asian and Western collectors.  These four artists are primarily known as woodblock print artists. This exhibit shows their  watercolors, book illustrations and etchings. 

CHINA IS THE WINNER IN THE ART MARKET IN THE PAST DECADE!

 
 
China jumped from ninth place to first place in 2010, becoming the world’s largest auction marketplace for Fine Art, overtaking the United States and United Kingdom. In addition,  the dramatic evolution of the internet and its 2 billion and a half users have caused a speedy acceleration of online art sales. All this is reported by Artprice, the world leader of art market information. China not only played an important role in the global economic recovery, it also seized the limelight in cultural, art  and sports events. Expressing the pride of Chinese culture it took the global auction prices to new heights. And what I have commented about before — prices of Chinese artists have not only closed the gap but overtaken Western artists and art works. 
 
So it is no surprise that the Ullens Collection auctioned off at Sotheby’s Hong Kong on April 3, 2011 brought new record prices for contemporary Chinese art.

SODEISHA

March 30, 2011 1 comment

A very successful exhibition and sale is taking place at the gallery of Joan B. Mirviss Ltd. at 39 East 78th Street, New York: BIRDS OF DAWN: PIONEERS OF JAPAN’S SODEISHA CERAMIC MOVEMENT”. Some of us may not be so familiar with this movement. This show focuses on the three seminal founders of the extremely influential Sodeisha ceramic movement: Yagi Kazuo (1918-79), Suzuki Osamu (1926-2001), and Yamada Hikaru (1923-2001).

The name Sodeisha literally translated means ” Crawling through Mud Association” and the movement derived its name from a Chinese ceramic glazing term to express their complete absorption with their medium and its inherent limitations. Sodeisha was formed in 1948 in opposition to the Mingei or folk art movement that dominated the ceramic style and philosophy in Japan at the time. Sodeisha artists took a non-traditional avant-garde approach to their works focusing on sculptural ceramics. It helped me to understand their art when I learned that Sodeisha artists in impoverished conditions of post-war Kyoto first turned to creating functional vessels sometimes using Chinese Cizhou vessels as models. Cizhou ware often exhibit stark forms and colors. While these Sodeisha pieces are utilitarian they are nonetheless very sculptural pieces. In the mid 1950s Sodeisha artists were able to turn to more non-functional works of art. Some of the pieces are reminiscent of the bronze pieces of a Brancusi but fashioned of clay.

This exhibition has been ten years in the making and Joan Mirviss reports that twenty-nine out of fifty-four works have already been sold with several heading to important art museums. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully-illustrated book that includes essays by a number of recognized scholars and art curators. BIRDS OF DAWN runs through April 29, 2011.

Here is a piece by Suzuki Osamu

Where to Buy Art OnLine

 

1. VIP Art Fair is the first art fair to mobilize the collective force of the world’s leading contemporary art galleries. Its first art fair took place January 22-20, 2011 at http://www.vipartfair.com/. VIP Art  Fair will take place entirely online  with works from nearly 140 galleries. It aims to connect buyers, collectors, dealers and galleries with in-depth photos, comprehensive details on artworks and artists and with  live conversations with dealers.

2. 20×200  sells limited edition prints ranging from $ 20 to $ $ 5,000, at 20×200.com.

3. Art.sy is set to launch in spring and aims to match collectors with art based on their personal preferences. Website is not yet working.

4. Artnet restarted its online auction at artnet.com.