A Guide to This Year’s Asia Week New York Auctions

Liz Catalano
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Across the industry, auction houses are gearing up for the 12th annual Asia Week New York. This collaborative event brings museums, galleries, specialists, and auction houses together to celebrate the category and emphasize its importance in the United States. It will formally run from March 11th through March 20th, 2021.

Collection of lacquer wares coming to auction in March. Image from Bonhams.
Collection of lacquer wares coming to auction in March. Image from Bonhams.

What is Asia Week New York?

In March of 2009, 16 galleries from New York’s Upper East Side collaborated on a week of open house Asian art exhibitions. More galleries joined the effort the following year, running 31 simultaneous yet independent exhibitions in Manhattan. This loose organization of galleries and Asian art specialists formalized in 2011. The Asia Week New York Association now runs the yearly event. Most major auction houses coordinate Asian art sales for mid-March. 

This year’s Asia Week New York will primarily take place online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some galleries will still offer by-appointment viewings, and the Asia Week New York Association will sponsor several webinars for Asian art education. An online exhibition will show works from 29 international galleries. Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Bonhams, Doyle, and Heritage Auctions will also present dedicated Asian art sales throughout the month. 

Late Shang dynasty ritual vessel (the “Luboshez gong”). Image from Christie’s.
Late Shang dynasty ritual vessel (the “Luboshez gong”). Image from Christie’s.

Christie’s

Christie’s will kick off Asia Week New York with a Japanese and Korean art auction. Starting at 10:00 AM EDT on March 16th, the event brings ukiyo-e prints, contemporary art, lacquer works, and a selection of ancient sculptures. Bidders will find copies of Katsushika Hokusai’s iconic Great Wave, works by Utagawa Kuniyoshi, and a Heian-era wood sculpture of Kannon, the bodhisattva of mercy (USD 250,000 – $350,000).

The dedicated sales continue through the week at Christie’s with both live and timed South Asian contemporary art auctions. The live sale features the work of Benode Behari Mukherjee, a pioneer of Indian modern art. Additional auctions, spread through the rest of the week, offer Himalayan and Southeast Asian works of art and important Chinese ceramics. On March 18th, the auction house will present bronze works and sculpted jades from the Junkunc Collection. The 20th-century collector spent a lifetime curating Chinese jades from the Neolithic era through the Qing dynasty. 

Christie’s will conclude its Asia Week offerings with a five-lot auction of early Chinese ritual bronzes from the Daniel Shapiro Collection. The Luboshez guong or gong, a ritual vessel possibly used to pour wine, is notable ($4,000,000 – $6,000,000). It was likely cast between the 13th and 12th century BCE. 

Vasudeo S. Gaitonde, Untitled, 1962. Image from Sotheby’s.
Vasudeo S. Gaitonde, Untitled, 1962. Image from Sotheby’s.

Sotheby’s

Sotheby’s will offer four dedicated auctions during Asia Week New York, starting with a modern and contemporary South Asian art auction on March 16th. Vasudeo S. Gaitonde’s Untitled (1962) leads the listings with an $800,000 to $1,200,000 estimate. The catalog also boasts works from Jehangir Sabavala, Nasreen Mohamedi, Maqbool Fida Husain, and Meera Mukherjee. The auction house also recently announced a surprise lot, Prabhakar Barwe’s Dwelling from 1988 ($80,000 – $120,000). 

Asian art auctions at Sotheby’s continue through the rest of the week. A selection of jades and cloisonné enamels from the Brooklyn Museum is gathering steam in a March 17th auction. The sale highlights items produced during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Timed and live auctions of Chinese fine and decorative artworks finish out Sotheby’s Asia Week offerings.

A 33-deity Ushnishavijaya mandala. Image from Bonhams.
A 33-deity Ushnishavijaya mandala. Image from Bonhams.

Bonhams

At Bonhams, art from Southeast Asia and the Himalayas will take the spotlight during Asia Week. Several major brass and copper alloy figures lead Bonhams’ March 16th sale, including an 11th-century Vajravarahi bronze ($400,000 – $600,000). A Tibetan Ushnishavijaya mandala is also notable. Possibly made at the Ngor monastery, this piece shows the goddess of wisdom as a shining figure amid a crowd of colorful deities ($200,000 – $300,000). 

Japanese and Korean fine art will also hit the Bonhams auction block this month. Several porcelain pieces from the Joseon dynasty stand out, including a carved white porcelain brush holder and a blue-tinted incense burner. The catalog offers uchidashi or repoussé armor, a wood figure of Amida Nyorai, and various anonymous paintings from both Japanese and Korean cultures. 

Northern Indian bronze Buddhist trinity, Pala period. Image from Doyle.
Northern Indian bronze Buddhist trinity, Pala period. Image from Doyle.

Doyle

To mark 2021’s Asia Week, Doyle will offer a broad Asian art sale on March 15th. The auction highlights countries and cultures across the continent. A Northern Indian bronze figure grouping from the Pala period leads the catalog ($50,000 – $70,000). The eight-inch tall bronze piece depicts two bodhisattvas standing next to a crowned Buddha. Chinese porcelain and vessel collectors will also find strong examples in this event.

Qi Baishi, Chicks. Image from Heritage Auctions.
Qi Baishi, Chicks. Image from Heritage Auctions.

Heritage Auctions

Heritage Auctions will offer 343 pieces of Asian art during Asia Week. The Fine & Decorative Asian Art sale will begin on March 16th, 2021, at 11:00 AM EDT. Among the leading lots is an ink on paper painting by Qi Baishi. Active through the early 20th century, Qi was one of the last traditional Chinese painters. The available ink piece depicts a group of chicks moving from right to left ($40,000 – $60,000). Other notable lots include painting and calligraphy handscrolls in the style of Lu Zhi, a pair of painted guardian figures from the Tang dynasty, and several pieces of decorative cloisonné. 

Auction Daily will continue its coverage of the 12th annual Asia Week New York as the events develop.

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James Ardis
James Ardis
Senior Writer and Editor

James Ardis is a writer, editor, and content strategist focused on the auction industry. His company, James Ardis Writing, has partnered with auction houses, galleries, and many clients outside the art world.

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