art · international

My Top Picks from Bonham’s Asian Art Auction

Happy Saturday, friends! I’ve got more of my top picks for Asian Art Week. Today’s post is all about Bonhams Auctions. Bonhams refuses to be left out of the Asian Art Auction fun: the auction house will be having three auctions featuring Asian art exclusively. Just like in my last post, I’ll be focusing on just a select few items from the sales that caught my eye.

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The first auction is on September 10 at 10 AM EST. The sale – Chinese Works of Art and Paintings – features just a little less than 300 lots covering several different historical periods. I swooned when I saw these stunning silk robes. The vibrant hues and intricate detailing are the things that dreams are made of. Every now and then, I want to rock the traditional dress of a different country, so this is right up my alley. I love both the blue and red robe, and I’d gladly wear both! The robes could easily sell for more than $5000, per the auction estimates.

Two Han Lady ‘s Embroidered Silk Informal Robes

The other two auctions will occur on September 12. Earlier in the day, the Ancient Skills, New Worlds: Twenty Treasures of Japanese Metalwork auction will occur (starting at 10 AM). This carefully curated selection of 20 pieces from a private collection will sell quickly but the items are all distinct and unforgettable. The piece that I adored is this iron and gold miniature cabinet. This cabinet is a marvel: the perfect blend of strength and style, it is one of the most ornate pieces in the collection. This shiny jewel could easily sell for more than $30,000.

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Komai Otojiro, Iron and Gold Miniature Cabinet

Finally, at 1 PM on September 12, Bonhams will have its last Asian-themed auction, the Fine Japanese and Korean Art auction. Kudos to Bonhams for being one of the few auction houses to have a sale devoted exclusively to art originating from outside of China. While I love China and Chinese art, I enjoy browsing a collection that focuses on different Asian countries. This auction is predominantly Japanese art: out of 307 lots, roughly 10 of them are Korean.  From the Japanese art, I found I was smitten when I saw the small lacquer writing box. I loved its elegance and the fact that this beautiful box held writing instruments. Even though I won’t be bidding on this beauty (it could sell between $4,000 to $6,000+ at auction), I love the notion of having a luxurious container to hold your writing utensils. That’s an idea I may have to try for myself.

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Shiomi Masanari, Small Lacquer Writing Box

When it came to the Korean art in this auction, I really liked the calligraphy attributed to Kim Jeong-Hui. There’s something minimalist but still very lavish about this fine piece. The timeless nature of this piece is especially impressive when considering the fact that is is over 200 years old. Also, the simplicity of the design means that it could hang in any room of a home with ease. Prices for this one could soar over $4,000, and it’s easy to see why.

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Calligraphy Attributed to Kim Jeong-Hui

Those are my top picks from Bonhams’s Asian Art Week. This auction house has fewer pieces overall but the focused themes make Bonhams’s events stand out among the other auctions occurring during Asian Art Week. Be sure to check out their catalogs and see if anything catches your eye!

art · culture

When Maturity Was Valued

A couple of weeks ago, I gave an abbreviated review of Nasher Museum in Durham, NC. I mentioned in that post that I was considering doing a separate post about a particular exhibit that caught my eye. Well, I had a moment to really process what I saw, and I want to share my thoughts with you here.

I want you all to take a good look at the marble bust below.

This is a bust of a Roman matron, sculpted sometime between 40 and 30 BCE. She’s poised, stately and undeniably mature. The sculptor didn’t attempt to depict this woman as a youthful maiden or an adorable waif. This likeness captured is that of an adult woman, self-possessed and satisfied with her position in life.

What really struck me is the caption next to the bust. The museum described this period of art as being one where “portraits tended toward a realism that valued maturity and experience over idealized youthfulness”.  I looked in awe at this woman that was able to enjoy her maturity being captured in marble and I thought to myself, “When did things change?”

I know that every adult was once young, and there are many beautiful things about youth. But I wonder why we spend so much time idealizing youth, both in art and culture. Is it because the fleeting nature of it is akin to the scarcity factor that fuels the supply/demand concept that we learned so well in those college economics courses? Is it because life’s disappointments make us long for the days before we knew the troubles that laid ahead for us? Is it because we wish for some of the fearlessness that we once knew but had to trade in for the “seriousness” of adulthood?

I’m not exactly sure when youth became the ideal, but I long for a time when we return to reverence for maturity. After all, the average person spends way more years as a mature adult than as an inexperienced youth, and if you have experience, you can make wiser choices that lead to a happier life. Even though I’ve had my share of disappointments and frustration, I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed my 30s far more than my 20s, and once I get to my 40s, I’m sure my life will be even better.

I can’t change an entire culture that worships youth, but I can share this lovely bust with you, and encourage you to see the beauty in being aged, experienced and (hopefully) wise.

That’s it for today. Have a great afternoon, and take care!

art

Art Auction: Art from Africa, Oceania and the Americas

I hadn’t recently posted about any auctions (partially because I’ve been working on a juicy post all about auctions just for you all!) but I came across this one and I had to share.

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Some of the lots offered at Sotheby’s upcoming auction

Sotheby’s is auctioning off some extraordinary art from Africa, Oceania and the Americas (specifically, ancient Mesoamerica and North America). These lots are not just decorative objects: they are ancient artifacts that bridge the collector to faraway (both in the sense of time and distance) worlds.

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This totem pole from southeast Alaska is estimated to command up to $350,000 at auction

The auction features 90 lots, expected to fetch from $2,000 on the lower end to upwards of $350,000. This wide range of estimated selling prices guarantees that this auction will attract a variety of collectors.

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 A Maori nephrite pendant is estimated to command a price upwards of $50,000

My favorite piece of the auction is the Yoruba Altar Emblem from Nigeria. It isn’t the most expensive piece of this auction, but the colorful detailing, as well as the connection to the orishas, fascinates me.

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Yoruba Altar Emblem for Oko, Nigeria

The event will be held on May 14 at 10:30 AM, at Sotheby’s New York location (1334 York Avenue, New York, NY). All items can be viewed prior to the sale (10 AM to 5 PM Monday – Saturday, 1 PM to 5 PM on Sunday) so that you can experience these artifacts in person.