Ten years ago, a number of Manhattan galleries formed what was then called the “Asian Art Dealers of the Upper East Side” — a project initiated to promote the arts of Asia in an open-house platform through focused exhibitions. Now known as the “Asia Week New York,” this multi-day event occurs annually in the spring and fall, featuring local New York dealers, international pop-up galleries, auctions from major houses like Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Bonham’s, and Heritage, and events hosted by museums and educational institutions. While the spring edition of the Asia Week brings in a larger number of exhibitors and collectors, the fall edition functions as a season’s preview. Officially, Asia Week runs through September 14th, but most participating galleries will be showing work through the entire month of September.
Exhibitors this fall include many New York dealers showing works that span from contemporary to ancient, from ceramics to scrolls, and Japanese to Indian. More information about exhibitors can be found on Asia Week web site. As of Saturday, the major auctions associated with Asia Week ended, leaving noteworthy sales in their wake along with some unexpectedly passed lots.
A sale of stunning Chinese pottery and jades from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection, which included a pair of Famille-Rose Pomegranate Vases from the late Qing Dynasty, was held at Sotheby’s on Saturday. This sale was one of the most successful of the week, with many of the works selling significantly higher than their pre-sale estimates. Among others, Yixing Teapot was sold for $81,250, much exceeding its pre-sale estimate of just $6,000-$8,000, and a Qi Baishi fan, with a pre-sale estimate of $7,000-$9,000 was sold for $118,750.
A highlight from Bonhams New York sales lineup was its Fine Japanese and Korean Art auction that included works by woodblock masters like Katsushika Hokusai and Utagawa Hiroshige, along with decorative objects from vases and teapots to daggers. Hokusai’s Shimotsuke Kurokamiyama Kirifuri no taki (depicted above) far exceeded the presale estimate, achieving over $90,000 in Wednesday’s sale. Although some pieces surpassed expectations, there was a fair amount of bought-in lots (works that failed to get the minimum bid required to sell). The pictured Hiroshige did not sell, for example, despite its very good condition.
The only major auction house to feature Southeast Asian art this fall is Christie’s, with its South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art and Indian, Himalayan, and Southeast Asian Works of Art auctions. The latter sale was relatively uneventful, with only a few works exceeding estimates while many others sold under the low estimate. In contrast, the modern & contemporary sale received considerable attention from buyers. Notable works from the Modern and Contemporary Art sale included Sayed Haider Raza’s “Untitled” that sold for $543,000, alongside works by Jamini Roy and George Keyt.
The auctions and exhibitions that took place throughout the week indeed are but a sample of what is to come in the spring, when dealers from around the world gather in New York and museums host special events for participants, collectors, and lovers of Asian art. The Asian art market traditionally has a stronger hold in London and Hong Kong, so the presence that Asia Week New York creates is integral to the field. New York’s auctions provide opportunities for those interested in Asian art with a focused time to view and learn about it at the time when efforts across New York are concentrated. If you missed this week’s events, you can catch the spring edition held on March 12th through 19th, and stay updated by checking Asia Week New York’s official website.