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Art Market

Museums and the art trade get together for Asia Week New York

9 March 2024

From the February 2024 issue of Apollo. Preview and subscribe here.

In its 15th year, what sets Asia Week New York (AWNY) apart from other similar events that dot the international calendar? For its new chairman, Brendan Lynch of the London-based gallery Oliver Forge and Brendan Lynch Ltd, it’s the fact that year after year AWNY attracts curators from major museums in the United States and from overseas. ‘Also, it’s that you can buy very decent works of art for under $50,000,’ he adds. ‘Quite frankly, Asian art is largely inexpensive compared to many other areas of the art market.’

Japanese art across disciplines is relatively accessible, ‘given the weak yen and a paucity of new collectors’. Seventeenth- to 19th-century Indian court paintings are another opportunity for buyers. ‘This is not an area most Indian collectors focus on; the newly wealthy younger generation prefer contemporary art,’ Lynch says. At the same time, both private collectors and institutions across Asia are increasingly keen to purchase work from their countries of origin, he believes. ‘This is driven firstly by economic conditions, but also by fashions that change every few years,’ Lynch says. He nods to the strong market for Vietnamese ceramics, powered by the country’s growing economy, as an example.

This year, one new gallery – Alisan Fine Arts in Hong Kong – is being added to AWNY’s roster, while four are returning to the fold after some time away: the Loewentheil China Photography Collection and Carlton Rochell Asian Art in New York, Bachmann Eckenstein from Basel, and London-based Francesca Galloway. Only five of the fair’s 28 exhibitors are travelling from overseas; Lynch believes that a ‘draconian and inflexible’ import tax for dealers and works of art of Chinese and Tibetan origin, levied by the Trump administration in 2018, is still a ‘serious deterrent’, despite having been lowered from 10 per cent to 7.5 per cent.

Two Birds (1684), Muhammad Zaman. Oliver Forge and Brendan Lynch LLC

For Lynch, highlights of this year’s AWNY can be found at the six participating auction houses: Bonhams, Christie’s, Doyle, Heritage Auctions, iGavel and Sotheby’s. These include a complete set of Hokusai’s series of woodblock prints, Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji (1830–33), offered by Christie’s on 19 March. Such a set has not appeared on the market for 20 years. At Bonhams, the sale of the second half of Alan and Simone Hartman’s comprehensive collection – ‘Alan was a very successful dealer of Asian art, with quite catholic collecting tastes’ – will be sure to merit attention.

For his personal highlight, Lynch chooses a rare watercolour study of two birds from 1684 by the Persian court artist Muhammad Zaman, offered by his own gallery, but looks forward to discovering what his fellow dealers have to offer. ‘Asia Week never disappoints when it comes to surprises,’ he says, ‘and there is always that frisson of excitement over record prices being broken.’

Asia Week New York takes place at various venues and online, 14–22 March.

Quadrilogie amoureuse (c. 1932), Francis Picabia. Photo: courtesy Michael Werner Gallery, New York and London; © Estate of Francis Picabia

Gallery highlights

Francis Picabia, Women: Works on Paper 1902–1950
23 February–3 May
Michael Werner Gallery, London

The female figure plays a key role in the work of many male artists. What makes Francis Picabia’s approach unusual is the sheer number of styles the French artist adopted: from an early dalliance with Impressionism, through to cubism, Fauvism, Dadaism, Surrealism, abstraction and a kind of Pop. The exhibition includes some 40 drawings and paintings made over the course of 50 years.

Marisa Merz
Until 23 March
Thomas Dane Gallery, Naples

‘There has never been a separation between my life and my work,’ Marisa Merz once asserted. Merz, the only woman to have been associated with the Arte Povera movement, drew on everyday life in both the substance and the themes of her sculptures. These incorporate traditionally feminine crafts and the use of materials more commonly associated with domesticity.

Jason Rhoades: Drive
27 February–14 January 2025
Hauser & Wirth, Los Angeles

For the best part of a year, Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles is devoting a gallery to an exhibition of LA native Jason Rhoades’s monumental installations, sculptures, drawings and videos, which will evolve across the months, each iteration exploring a different theme. It’s a particularly strong pairing of person and place: an artist fascinated by the place of the car in American life, in a city infamous for its car culture.

Until 23 February
Thomas Gibson Fine Art, London

Watercolours and oil paintings including landscapes, floral still lifes and figurative works by Die Brücke member Emil Nolde are now on show at Thomas Gibson Fine Art in London, before travelling to Maastricht for the gallery’s presentation at TEFAF (9–14 March). All the works bar one come directly from the Nolde Foundation Seebüll in Neukirchen.

Berenice Cuts Her Hair (1665), Michele Desubleo. Maurizio Nobile Fine Art

Fairs in focus

10–18 February
ModenaFiere, Modena

The art and antiques fair Modenantiquaria is returning for its 37th edition, which takes place at the city’s ModenaFiere exhibition centre. Highlights include ‘Sculptura: Italian Masterpieces from the 13th to the 20th Century’, which features a selection of 30 works presented by 15 dealers, curated by the architect Ruggero Moncada di Paternò, and ‘Petra’, a presentation focused on landscape design.

Art Dubai
1–3 March
Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai

Galleries from some 40 countries are travelling to the resort town of Madinat Jumeirah for the 17th edition of Art Dubai. More than 100 exhibitors – the majority from the Global South – will appear across its four sections: Contemporary, Art Dubai Modern, Bawwaba (meaning ‘Gateway’ in Arabic), which focuses on art made in the last 12 months, and Art Dubai Digital, which features new media work.

From the February 2024 issue of Apollo. Preview and subscribe here.