Eight days of exhibition, five days of sales and eleven auctions of Asian art brought Sotheby’s New York a combined of $78.4 million, far exceeding the pre-sale estimate. Works sold to collectors in Europe, Asia and the Americas included Zhang Daqian’s $6.6 Million Water And Sky Gazing After Rain In Splashed Color, one of the top lots of Asia Week across all of New York. See the 14 artworks that surpassed one million dollars. Asia Week
There are scores of depictions of holy figures on view at Sotheby’s during Asia Week, but on Friday we welcomed one of Tibetan Buddhism’s holiest leaders in the flesh. Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the 17th Karmapa Lama, was visiting the New York area as part of a Tibetan New Year celebration. The 32-year-old spiritual leader of millions stopped by Sotheby’s New York galleries where Asia Week, which covers 3500 years of artistic history across the continent, had just opened. He was especially interested in seeing the Ernst Collection of Himalayan Art, which spans the 12th to the 19th centuries and includes many Tibetan masterworks. THE KARMAPA LAMA, PHOTOGRAPHED AT THE GUYTO MONASTERY. PHOTO BY TASHIIIII, WIKIMEDIA COMONS. His Holiness stopped in front of one magnificent 16th-century Thangka (a traditional Tibetan Buddhist painting) which depicts Palden Rinchen surrounded by a heavenly retinue that includes one of the Karmapa’s predecessors: just to the right, wearing the black hat that signifies his office, is Karmapa Rangyung Dorje. Elsewhere in the galleries His Holiness would have seen a pocket-sized Gilt-Bronze Figure of a Karmapa, perfect for a traveling lama; the present Karmapa lives mainly in India, but is on a plane all the time to visit his global following. Sino-Tibetan politics notwithstanding, the Karmapa also made time to tour galleries devoted to Chinese paintings and works of art. A GILT-BRONZE FIGURE OF A KARMAPA, TIBET, 16TH/17TH CENTURY. For Anuradha Ghosh-Mazumdar, head of the Indian and South-East Asian department at Sotheby’s, the visit was an unexpected and thrilling encounter. “I cannot describe what it was like to be in his presence,” she reports. “He radiates inner calm, which comes with higher spiritual consciousness and control.” Ghosh-Mazumdar notes that the Karmapa is himself an accomplished artist, primarily creating thangkas. So he was able to appreciate the Asia Week objects from an artistic, as well a spiritual, perspective. “He loved the shows,” she concludes. “It was the most amazing thing ever.” ANURADHA GHOSH-MAZUMDAR WITH THE KARMAPA. “WE ARE TRULY BLESSED.” LEAD IMAGE: A THANGKA DEPICTING PALDEN RINCHEN, TIBET, 16TH CENTURY.
Rather than living in museum-like environments with a single prevailing style, many of today’s collectors have embraced eclecticism, filling their homes with works of art from across centuries and continents. Contemporary interiors are layered, reflecting the diverse interests of their inhabitants, who might juxtapose Abstract Expressionist paintings with Chinese furniture, or present an array of African objects on a Louis XVI console, or as our specialists Anu Ghosh-Mazumdar and Eric Shiner have done, pairing Indian works of art with paintings by contemporary artists. Click ahead to see their selections styled in dynamic interiors.
Human beings are “collectors” by nature. They want to preserve their glorious history forever. They try to leave indelible traces of their past. But not everybody is a creative artist and most humans depend on the creativity of others to design a worthy tombstone or a respectable monument. Naturally, this is true also for me. I thought that by fostering an ancient culture I contributed a little bit to my own immortality. Depending on the available wealth, mortal people have come up with various means to mark their unique importance. I have felt that by linking myself to the age-old sages of Tibetan History, I might achieve the same goal, perhaps with a mixed conscience but nevertheless with some originality as I have no natural motivation for such a link. It was just my love and admiration that caused my irresistible attraction for Tibetan art and culture. Perhaps, I am already saturated by Westernized culture and presumption that are guiding me subconsciously. I admire the fresh approach of Tibetan philosophers and artists, and I am caught by their spontaneity and their metaphoric strength. I know I am not alone in my Tibetan fascination. But I am not carried just by a common wave of Tibet-friendliness; it was from the beginning a deep attraction by Tibetan symbols and their powerful message by the skillful usage of shapes and colors in the ancient paintings.
Assembled under the leadership of a distinguished curatorial team,The Cleveland Museum of Art’s Indian and Southeast Asian art collection is among the highest in quality and importance in the United States. On 15 March, as part of New York's spring Asia Week, Sotheby’s will offer several pieces from the museum in the Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Works of Art sale. Watch and discover some of the spectacular works in the upcoming auction, including an iconic Buddhist sculpture.
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