Luck Be a Lacquer: NYC Welcomes Asia Week New York

By Elias Dominguez

Asia Week New York wrapped up its 10-day long celebration of Asian art on March 25 with a series of auctions at Doyle’s and Christie’s, each closing with millions of dollars’ worth in bids, and an online lecture hosted by DAG, the foremost authority in Indian art.

Lot 21 of Christie’s Japanese and Korean Art Including the Collection of David and Nadya Utterberg, “Pine, Plum and Bamboo with a Multitude of Birds,” is a pair of six-panel screens on display in the auction house’s main entrance. It sold for US$50,400.

“Seated Four-Armed Vishnu” is the largest sculpture on display in The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s South Asian collection.

Despite recording its lowest sales figures since its founding in 2011, the event was regarded as a success by collectors, dealers and enthusiasts alike, who welcomed the return of this cultural staple on the New York City art scene after its two-year absence due to Covid.

Lot 745 of Bonham’s Japanese and Korean Art auction, “A pair of large bronze models of archers,” dated late 19th century and sold for US$25,312.

“We were delighted by the enthusiastic response we received from our collectors, curators, and scholars, who returned to New York for the many exhibitions, auction sales and museum shows,” said Dessa Goddard, chairwoman of Asia Week New York, in a statement released by the association. “The results of the sales testifies to the continued strength of the Asian Art market.”

Open houses, like this one for Bonham’s Chinese Works of Art Including the Richard Milhender Export Furniture Collection auction, gave the public access to view all the unique works irrespective of one’s intent to bid.

Each spring, Asia Week New York, in league with its interdisciplinary, multinational partners, arranges a week-long itinerary of exhibitions, lectures, open houses and auctions, focusing on the vast spectrum of pieces classified under the Asian art umbrella. These thematic showcases, which cover the entire category from antiquity to the contemporary era, represent the defining feature of the event and are, in their majority, free of charge and open to the public.

The Met transforms an open space into an ancient Chinese patio with backyard shrine. Large, architectural recreations like this one are a highlight of the museum’s many Asian exhibitions on display through the summer.

The 2022 edition of the event comprised of 22 in-person, international galleries, 14 live auctions, five live lectures and a bevy of dealer and museum exhibitions—The Met alone hosted seven— bolstered by 10 lectures, four exhibitions and six auctions held virtually. An esteemed cast of known figures throughout the art world and the larger cultural scene, within the New York City metropolitan area and the greater region alike, took part in collaboration to present rare historical and cultural treasures and educate the public about their significance and the diverse worlds they originate from.

Lot 81 of Christie’s Japanese and Korean Art Including the Collection of David and Nadya Utterberg, “A Variegated Lacing Daimyo Yoroi (Armor),” put on display in the auction house’s main entrance sold for US$189,000.

Many prominent Asian artists were highlighted throughout the event whose catalog performed well and were the subjects of stiff competition by bidders vying for their works. Among these were the famed ukiyo-e masters Hokusai and Hiroshige, whose masterpieces across 78lots garnered over $2.4 million in one, lone auction at Christie’s (Japanese and Korean Art Including the Collection of David and Nayda Utterberg), roughly 20% of the totals sales.

Inspired pieces of Chinese art and porcelain, some dating back to the neolithic period, were showstoppers throughout the event.  Indian and South Asian art was also given a spotlight and performed well across the board, rounding out the event’s catalog and offerings and ensuring it is representative of the entire continent and all its people.

Lot 320 of Sotheby’s Important Chinese Art auction, “A ‘Dehua’ seated figure of Guanyin, Qing Dynasty, 18th Century,” sold for US$21,420.

“The definition of Asian Art gets broader and more multifaceted with the increasing cultural globalization of the 21st century,” said one Asia Week New York participant, Miyako Yoshinaga, in a statement released by the association.

The variety and diversity found within Asian art is perhaps best exemplified through this 18th century piece of Mexican origin, on display at The Met, at a time when imported wares from Asia were salient in this country.

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