Asia Week New York 101: Talking With Dessa Goddard of Bonhams
Asia Week New York has become one of the most important annual events spotlighting all eras of fine and decorative art from China, India, the Himalayas, Southeast Asia, Tibet, Nepal, Japan, and Korea. Held annually each March across the Big Apple, its mission is “to celebrate and promote Asian art in New York City.” To learn more about Asia Week New York, Auction Daily spoke with Dessa Goddard, Bonhams’ US Head of the Asian Art Group and Senior Specialist for Chinese Art and Chairman of Asia Week New York. Here’s what she had to say about this signature annual event.
Auction Daily: Please give our readers an overview of Asia Week– what it is, its scope, and how it has evolved to become such an important event over time.
Dessa Goddard: After the International Asian Art Fair ended, Asia Week New York began in 2009 as a way to celebrate and promote the importance of Asian art in New York City. In the intervening years, the annual event has become a collaboration between world-renowned museums and Asian cultural institutions, major auction houses, and important Asian art specialists to present an array of museum-quality treasures. It has now grown to a year-round platform and hub showcasing our members and webinars on important topics of Asian art, as well as posting a weekly newsletter and blog highlighting the activities of museums and member events. This year, from March 16 to 24, 22 dealers, six auction houses and 11 museums will host events, auctions, and lectures throughout New York City, with an Open-House weekend, where all participating members open their doors to the public.
Auction Daily: Who attends Asia Week activities?
Dessa Goddard: Asia Week New York attracts collectors and curators from all over the United States and across the globe who want to gather to view the rich offerings of our members in the galleries and auction houses, and to meet with friends, fellow collectors, and colleagues to attend the wealth of lectures and events taking place over this ten-day period.
Auction Daily: How does Bonhams observe Asia Week, and what is your company’s role as an auction house as part of the overall event?
Dessa Goddard: Bonhams joined Asia Week as a participating member shortly after its inception in 2009 and has been an active supporter ever since, holding a position on the Planning Committee of AWNY along with the other major houses and dealers and involved in the planning and execution of the webinar program we started three years ago. Bonhams opened Asia Week this year on March 15 and 16 to preview our upcoming sales, with auctions commencing Monday, March 20 presenting six live auctions in multiple sessions over three days, with works of art from China, Japan, India, the Himalayas, and Southeast Asia. In addition, Bonhams will host three lectures this coming weekend and a cocktail reception. Please visit our website to see our complete auction series schedule, sale highlights, and full catalog offerings.
Auction Daily: What are some highlights of your company’s Asia Week auction offerings, and why are these treasures so noteworthy?
Dessa Goddard: This year Bonhams will be presenting an incredibly strong slate of sales highlighted by two major collections from notable names– J. J. Lally & Co. Fine Chinese Works of Art, and The Mary and Cheney Cowles Collection of Classical Chinese Furniture. A leading participant in the Chinese art market for more than 50 years, James J. Lally is recognized for his expert connoisseurship and superb presentation of the finest Chinese art during the 35-year run of the J. J. Lally & Co. gallery in New York. His collection at Bonhams features 69 lots of early Chinese jades, Chinese ceramics, and silver. Cheney Cowles founded the Crane gallery in 1975. Shortly thereafter, he and Mary began building a personal collection of Classical Chinese furniture for their home along with a significant collection of Japanese paintings. They have recently gifted a significant portion of their painting collection to the Metropolitan Museum, Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art, and the Portland Art Museum. Three huanghuali chairs are among the top lots of this exceptional collection.
An important star lot of the Bonhams sale week is a very rare thangka of (Akshobhya) Shakyamuni Buddha from 12th-century Tibet offered in the Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Art sale. Very few Tibetan paintings have ever appeared at auction, and few match the quality and excellent condition of this Buddha thangka.
Also sure to draw interest is a collection of contemporary Japanese ceramics. It’s a rare opportunity to see a group of established and emerging ceramicists presented together. This includes well-known artists like Fukami Sueharu, Ken Mihara, and Yasuhisa Kohyama, in addition to emerging stars like Fujikasa Satoko, Fukumoto Fuku, Hosono Hitomi, and Moriyama Kanjiro.
Auction Daily: And finally, as an Asian Art specialist, what has been the most outstanding, memorable, or remarkable experience you have had being part of past Asia Week events?
Dessa Goddard: As Chairman of Asia Week New York for the last two years, I have had the privilege of working with exceptional scholars and specialists in all aspects of Asian Art. Their wealth of experience and our common goal of providing the highest level of art and professional behavior to the world community, despite unprecedented global challenges, has propelled all of us forward in our belief that art has the power to build bridges, enhance mutual understanding, and inspire us to be the best in what we do.
Find more information about Asia Week New York 2023 here. Looking for more news coverage? Check out Auction Daily’s guide to the 2023 Asia Week New York auctions.
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