The Asian art week will commence on 6 September in New York. Christie’s is going to present an array of must-see art from contemporary classical and Chinese paintings to works with exemplary provenance from The Art Institute of Chicago. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights.
Fine Chinese Paintings
Date: 10 September, 10am
Bada Shanren (1626-1705)'s Bird and Rock
Christie’s Asia Week will be started with Fine Chinese Paintings which offers paintings and calligraphy from several periods in many styles and at a wide range of prices, from dramatic 17th century works to lively paintings by ever-popular Zhang Daqian and innovative contemporary ink works.
Leading the sale is a cursive script calligraphy of “West Village” by Fu Shan (1607-1684), estimated at US$300,000-400,000. Fu Shan was a renowned calligrapher, painter, and thinker from the Ming to Qing, he also excelled in poetry and medicine, and was one of the leading scholars in epigraphy. Like most of Fu Shan’s extant works, this cursive-script work bears no date. Scholars usually rely on brushwork from known periods and stylistic clues to determine an approximate date for his works. Fortunately, Fu Shan tells us that this poem, titled “West Village,” is an “old work from forty years ago,” therefore we can surmise that this calligraphy was written later in his life.
South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art
Date: 11 September, 10am
South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art showcases a group of important early paintings by members of the seminal Progressive Artists’ Group as well as important works by other pioneers of modern South Asian art.
The top lot of the sale is La Terre by Sayed Haider Raza, estimate on request. Painted in 1977, La Terre is one of the most important and largest works from a key period in Sayed Haider Raza’s artistic career, when, after many years working within the style of the Second École de Paris. La Terre represents a triumph in Raza’s long engagement with nature and the genre of the landscape, with its gestural brushwork, expressionistic use of colour and spiritual and symbolic engagement with the land and the notion of creation.
Indian, Himalayan and Southeast Asian Works of Art
Date: 11 September, 2pm
The sale features a selection of works including works from the Collection of Dorothy and Richard Sherwood; three important Sri Lankan artworks, one featured in the same 1977 exhibition; a wide array of significant Himalayan material including a large and important 14th-15th century gilt-bronze figure of Vajrasattva.
Estimated at US$600,000-800,000, the gilt-bronze figure of Vajrasattva depicted here is a primordial buddha as well as a highly-accomplished bodhisattva, with a perfected understanding of ultimate truth. This important Tibetan Buddhist deity is the primary and ceaseless source of Vajrayana teachings. He manifests in the sambhogakaya or celestial form or to assist in liberating all sentient beings from the undesirable cycle of rebirth in samsara.
Masterpieces of Early Chinese Gold and Silver
Date: 12 September, 10am
The sale is comprised of exquisite gold and silver objects from Ancient China, ranging in date from the Spring and Autumn Period (late 6th – early 5th century B.C) to the Qing period. Formed by Dr. Johan Carl Kempe, a prominent collector of Chinese art, the collection is particularly strong in gold and silver works dating from the Tang period, the zenith for works produced in this material.
Headlining the sale is a large parcel-gilt silver bowl, Tang dynasty (618-907) with an estimate of US$2m-3m. The large bowl is finely worked in repoussé with three rows of overlapping lotus petals, each gilded and exquisitely chased with a pair of birds in flight confronted on a ribbon tied in four loops against a background of leafy foliate sprays amidst leafy foliage, all below a further row of smaller repoussé petals that alternate with clusters of stamen below slender lancelot leaf tips that point towards the everted rim. The center of the interior is chased with a large medallion depicting eight birds in flight against a background of leafy foliate sprays as they encircle a ribbon tied in four loops with trailing ends.
Chinese Art from The Art Institute of Chicago
Date: 12 September, 2pm
The sale features 84 lots with a focus on Ming and Qing porcelains, and offers a rare insight into the taste for collecting Chinese ceramics and works of art in the Midwest from the end of the 19th century through the 1980s. The sale sold to benefit The Art Institute of Chicago’s Asian Art Acquisition Fund.
Highlights include two Wanli wucai garlic-head vases, a Qianlong blue and white dragon vase, tianqiuping, and a Qianlong blue and yellow stem bowl.
The Qianlong blue and white dragon vase, tianqiuping, is expected to fetch US$300,000-500,000. Globular vases, or tianqiuping, of this massive size and superb quality are extremely rare. From the painting style, with its deliberate echo of the Ming 'heaping and piling' effect, and its globular form, it is clear that the present vase was produced as an appreciation of early Ming dynasty prototypes.
Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art
Date: 13 September, 10am & 2pm
This sale features important masterpieces such as a Tang-dynasty jade dragon head and a Ming-dynasty huanghuali folding chair. Other highlights include exceptional Tang sancai from the Klingenstein collection and Ming and Qing porcelain from the Mayer collection, as well as archaic jades and bronzes, fine carved lacquer and ‘dragon’ robes and Song ceramics from private collections.
Valued at US$2.5m-3.5m, an pale greyish-green jade carving of a dragon head, Tang dynasty comes from the collection of Stephen Junkunc III (1904-1978). Stephen Junkunc III was one of the great Chinese art collectors. His collection at its height numbered over 2,000 examples of Chinese porcelain, jade, bronzes, paintings and Buddhist sculptures. Junkunc III once owned two examples of the fabled Ru ware, one of them was sold for an eye-watering price of almost US$1.6m at Christie’s to the prominent collector Au Bak Ling in 1992.
The Junkunc jade dragon head embodies imperial magnificence of the highest order—the extravagant expenditure of highly valued material on a large sculpture of a dragon, an established emblem of power. Excavated parallels in jade and pottery, as well as contemporaneous textual and visual records suggest it was created at the height of the Tang-dynasty during the 8th century.
Three online sales will also take place in during Christie’s Asia Week: Chinese Art from The Art Institute of Chicago Online, Gods and Guardians: South Asian Works of Art, Contemporary Art Asia.