. February 24, 2008

Sotheby’s is pleased to announce its spring series of Asian sales in New York: Contemporary Art Asia: China Japan Korea on March 17th; Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art on March 18th; Modern Indian Art on March 19th; and Indian and Southeast Asian Works of Art, including Miniatures, on March 19th. The exhibitions will open to the public on March 13, 2008.

March 17, 2008
Sotheby’s spring sale of Contemporary Asian Art in New York will feature an important and monumental work by Cai Guo-Qiang Escalator: Explosion Project for Centre Pompidou, made of gunpowder on paper (pictured on page 2, est. $500/700,000*). The work was commissioned for the Centre Pompidou in 2003, drawing upon the museum’s infrastructure, for the exhibition “Alors, la Chine”. From Zhang Xiaogang’s enigmatic Bloodline Series is a work from 1996 depicting two Mao-suited youths in the
artist’s signature style in which he attempts to find continuity not only in Chinese culture but in the vast embrace of Chinese people themselves (est. $1/1.5 million). Rounding out the highlights is Zhang Wang’s stainless steel Artificial Rock #31, 2001, edition 3 of 3, a surreal contemporary sculpture inspired by classical scholar rocks (est. $180/250,000).

March 18, 2008
Highlighting the March sale in New York are two archaic bronzes, led by an outstanding and extremely rare archaic bronze wine vessel, Fang Yi, Western Zhou dynasty (est. $4/6 million). The four-sided vessel is boldly cast on each side in raised relief with a central taotie animal-mask panel. Another smaller extremely rare archaic bronze wine vessel, Fang Zun, Western Zhou dynasty, bears a similar four-sided form and taotie animal-masks but with a round neck and wide trumpet mouth, crisply cast with descending dragons on the neck and foot (est. $3/4 million). Another cornerstone of the sale is a magnificent and extremely rare pair of Huanghuali horseshoe-back armchairs inlaid with mother-of-pearl, horn, ivory, amber and soapstone embellishments and dragons, 17th/18th century (est. $300/500,000). Exquisite ceramics from the Song, Jin, Yuan and early Ming dynasties are represented by the more than 30 lots from the Dexingshuwu Collection. Highlighting this collection is a fine and rare ‘longquan’ celadon carved pear-shaped bottle vase, (yuhuchunping), Hongwu period of the Ming dynasty (est. $300,000/500,000). The offerings of jade will include works from a Mid-Western Collector, including a fine and rare spinach-green jade brushpot, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period (pictured here, est. $250/350,000). At over 6″ high, the exterior is beautifully carved and undercut with four scholars and their acolytes in a mountainous landscape. A fine and rare white jade Mughal-style jar, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period, will also be on offer from the same collection (est. $60/80,000). This delicately carved vessel, just under 6″ high, bears twin acanthus and pendant flower-bud blossoms at the shoulder, and a floriform foot. Another highlight of the March sale is an outstanding ‘doucai’ five-lobed vase (meiping), Qianlong sealmark and period, of elegant five-lobed baluster form. At over 10″ high, the vase is considered a masterpiece for its complex and innovative form, derived from the traditional meiping shape and for the masterly painting in traditional Ming doucai style (est. $140/180,000). Rounding out the sale is a selection of over 50 superb bamboo carvings from the Walter and Mona Lutz Collection. These works, collected over half a
century, comprises brushpots, cups and figures, and features a large and intricately carved bamboo mountain and a group depicting the Eight Immortals on a raft. Many of the works have been published and have been on exhibition in the Denver Art Museum.

March 19, 2008
A highlight of Sotheby’s spring 2008 sale of Modern Indian Art is an Untitled painting of a nude and horse by artist M. F. Husain (pictured here). The horse has remained an enduring theme in Husain’s works since the 1950s. The artist was fascinated by horses since his childhood, and in ancient Indian mythology, these animals are a symbol of life force and energy. The present painting, estimated at $250/300,000, depicts a faceless rider who attempts to mount a rearing stallion. The interaction between the two, articulated in clashing diagonal planes, is intensely kinetic and both figure and horse seem to be spinning in a vortex of energy. The application of color itself in sweeping fluid strokes heightens the sense of movement and power. Another highlight of the sale is a 1968 Untitled landscape by Ram Kumar. Estimated at $120/180,000, the work is executed in the artist’s trademark earth brown and ocher tones and is typical of his paintings from the late 1960s that mark a decisive stage in the progression of his style towards pure abstraction. In works from this period the elements of the landscape are reduced to barely recognizable forms that seem to meld into each other in fluid and shifting vertical and horizontal planes, as seen in the present painting. The sale also includes notable works by other senior modern Indian artists such as F. N. Souza, S. H. Raza, Tyeb Mehta and Arpita Singh.

March 19, 2008

buddha.jpgHighlighting this year’s sale of Indian and Southeast Asian Works of Art is a gilt copper Buddha Shakyamuni, Tibet, 14th/15th century, from A Private Swiss Collection (pictured on page 1, est. in excess of $2 million). This exceptionally fine and radiant sculpture is one of the largest and most important early Tibetan gilt bronze figures of Shakyamuni Buddha outside Tibet. The statue remains in pristine condition, with a seamless covering of rich mercury gilding over the meticulously cast figure and separately made pedestal, the face and neck painted with powdered gold and pigments in accordance with Tibetan ritual practice. The character of the sculpture is wholly Tibetan, yet certain Nepalese artistic references are discernable. The iconographic form in which the historical Buddha is seated with his right hand in the earth-touching position, bhumisparsha mudra, recalls a momentous episode from his spiritual biography in which he triumphs over
Mara just prior to his enlightenment. A Vajrasattva, made of gilt copper and semi-precious stones, Tibet, 13th century, will also be on offer from the Private Swiss Collection (est. $300/400,000). The Vajrasattva, Adamantine Being, is regarded as an archetypal Buddha remaining as bohisattva for the benefit of sentient beings and is supplicated in rites of purification. In this exceptionally fine and rare sculpture, Vajrasattva appears strong and youthful yet with a compassionate gaze, his exalted regal status evident in his sumptuous crown and jewelry. The sculptural style of this important deity in the Tibetan pantheon is closely related to the Nepalese traditions of the Newar artists who were highly appreciated by Tibetan patrons of the arts from the seventh century onwards. Another highlight of the sale is a Khmer gray sandstone torso of a Male Deity, Baphuon, first half 11th century, with a slender waist and broad hips, wearing a vertically striated sampot bound with a plain belt, overlapping folds of a stylized pocket on his left thigh and a fish-tailed bow tied below his back. Measuring over 30”, the piece is being offered from a Distinguished Private Collection and is estimated to bring $400/600,000.

*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium

Category: Auction News

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