November to December 2000 Editorial

WITH THIS ISSUE ARTS OF ASIA completes its Thirtieth Anniversary Year. For an overview of the subjects of the five main articles I strongly advise our readers to first turn to the Preface by Drs Hugo E. Kreijger on pages 50-54. Asian Art Consultant to the Southeast Asian Department of Christie’s International, which he headed until 1997, Hugo organised and coordinated the present exhibition, “Majapahit: The Golden Age of Indonesia: Late 13th-Early 16th Century” held in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, which runs from November 26th, 2000 until May 25th, 2001. The exhibition celebrates the inauguration in that city of the renovated and extended Museum of Ethnology which is now renamed the Wereldmuseum (Worldmuseum). Illustrated is a photograph of the building (1).

It is the first exhibition in the West solely devoted to the arts of this flourishing period of Indonesia, when the archipelago then became for the first time politically and economically united, covering most areas of present-day Indonesia. The fourteenth century can be regarded as the beginning of the Golden Age of Indonesia and many wonderful stone, bronze, gold, terracotta and tuffstone works of art have survived to our times. Around two hundred objects will be on display in the exhibition, from which Hugo Kreijger and five distinguished associated expert authors have selected from amongst the most memorable to discuss and illustrate in ARTS OF ASIA. I am delighted through our magazine, to be able with such expert scholarship, to produce a descriptive catalogue of the exhibition in essay form which is otherwise unavailable.

Many of our international collector subscribers will be travelling to England for this year’s Asian Art in London, which “From 9th-17th November, 2000 celebrates unparalleled artistic, academic and commercial expertise in the field of Asian Art with a special programme of exhibitions, auctions, gallery openings, lectures and events throughout the city”. Amongst many possibilities, no doubt on Korea Day, Saturday November 11th, 2000, they will want to visit the permanent gallery at the British Museum (Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG, Tel: 020-7323-8000), which Jane Portal, an Assistant Keeper in the BM’s Oriental Department of Antiquities, covers for us in this issue. John Guy, Deputy Head of the Indian and Southeast Asian Department at the Victoria and Albert Museum (Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL, Tel: 020-7938-8500) and Curator of the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain sculpture collections also previews for this number the sculptures in the V&A exhibition, “Unseen Indian Bronzes”, which will be running from November 1st, 2000 to January 3rd, 2001.

Forty-nine Asian art dealers and five auction houses in London are supporting this year’s celebrations and are listed in the neat and Imperial-yellow bound guidebook. This is a useful record of the participants, their addresses and map directions, including museums with Asian collections, societies and even Asian restaurants.

Last year ARTS OF ASIA were supporters of “The Gilded Dragons Gala” at the British Museum in aid of the Asian Programmes, which included funding for new education and academic posts, extending the collections, support of forthcoming exhibitions, and subsidising both high quality and affordable catalogues. This year we are Gala Supporters of Asian Art in London’s November 10th reception “Voyages in the East-a glittering celebration to launch Asian Art in London, 7 pm to 10 pm at the Victoria and Albert Museum. All proceeds from the evening will go towards the V&A’s Asian Educational Publications Programme”. As part of our supporting activity one thousand copies of the November-December 2000 edition will be additionally printed and presented to guests as they arrive. Guests will have the opportunity to view the museum’s wonderful collections and temporary exhibitions.

I will be in London myself for the magazine, with my son Robin, and we look forward to visiting many of the art galleries that are holding exhibitions. They have for some time now, their owners tell me, been putting together selected items for this purpose. Sam Fogg the rare books and manuscripts specialist moved at the beginning of October to 15D Clifford Street, London W1S 4JZ, which has been transformed into permanent viewing galleries, a library and an additional gallery for regularly changing exhibitions. Established as a leading dealer in medieval manuscripts and works of art, the new gallery will also house an extensive collection of Islamic manuscripts, Chinese printed books and Indian paintings. As part of the Asian Art in London celebrations the gallery is showing two exhibitions, “Indian Court Painting” and “Chinese Illustrated Books from Song to Qing Dynasty”. Their new catalogue “Chinese Printed Books and Manuscripts” is specially produced for the show in November.

From London it is easy to cross over to Europe and visitors to Asian Art in London will still have time to visit the outstanding exhibition of Chinese archaic jades at the gallery of Myrna Myers (11 rue de Beaune, Paris 75007, France), where being held until December 2nd is the exhibition “Radiant Stones: Archaic Chinese Jades-from the Neolithic period through the Han dynasty”. Although I have not as yet seen these actual pieces I do have a copy of the well-produced catalogue. Published by Myrna Myers herself, it is copyright 2000 by Dr Filippo Salviati, who has made extensive use of archaeological data in analysing and making attributions for the jades exhibited. The catalogue is available through the gallery and it is a must for serious collectors of ancient Chinese jade.

Filippo Salviati, who teaches Chinese art at the University of Rome, is the author of numerous articles in specialised publications as well as having undertaken catalogues for public collections such as the National Museum of Oriental Art in Rome, and more recently on Chinese archaic jades and bronzes for the Museum of Asian Art in Cologne.

The Preface in French and English is by Myrna and Samuel Myers whose first archaic jade acquisition was a Western Han dynasty cicada (2), 2nd-1st century BC, one from a shoebox full of small carvings bought in a cluttered shop in Philadelphia in 1974. They graduated to acquire from major French collections and sales, for example, the two axes (3) (circa 3500-2500 BC) and a bi disc (Eastern Zhou, 4th century BC) from the Armand Trampitsch Collection.

The Dutch publishing company Hotei Publishing (Zoeterwoudsesingel 56, 2313 EK Leiden, Holland) specialises in books on Japanese art and culture. It draws on the expertise of the Hotei Japanese Prints gallery in Leiden, the Netherlands, which concentrates on Japanese prints and paintings and Scholten Japanese Art in New York, dealers in Japanese lacquerware, ceramics and netsuke. The directors of Hotei Publishing are long-time collectors of Japanese art and cater for what may be called a niche market. Their new website, allows their customers to order their books online. Amongst their titles, which are mainly in English, are illustrated exhibition catalogues, an academic series, books on Japanese prints series and artists, Japanese history and history of art and culture.

During the past months they published a large number of new titles. This year 2000 has been notably busy for their company owing to the celebrations of four hundred years of relations between The Netherlands and Japan. Especially for the Buchmesse/Frankfurt Book Fair 2000, which was held from Wednesday, October 18th to Sunday, October 22nd, they issued an Autumn 2000 edition of their catalogue with the latest information about new and forthcoming titles.

Also to mark the four centuries of relations between Holland and Japan, Sotheby’s Amsterdam (De Boelelaan 30, 1083 HJ, Amsterdam) has organised a special sale of Japanese art on November 28th, 2000. The sale focuses on Japanese objects after European models and Japanese objects with typical European decorations. Of the first focus, is a late 17th century very large Arita blue and white apothecary bottle and cover (4), height 52 cm, made after a European model.

The circa 1900 Javanese Indonesia cotton batik illustrated above (5) is part of the exhibition by Tai Gallery/ Textile Arts of “Significant Textiles” to be held at the Haughton’s International 20th Century Arts Fair in New York from November 25th to 29th, 2000. Tai Gallery (1572 Canyon Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501, USA) will also be showing contemporary Japanese bamboo sculpture (6). Of the husband and wife team gallery owners, Mary Hunt Kahlenberg, formerly curator of textiles at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, is one of the world’s leading authorities on textiles and has mounted many shows dealing with their influence on 20th century art. Robert T. Coffland, who has travelled extensively throughout Japan to meet bamboo artists, is the contributor of the article “Japanese Bamboo Arts” in the March-April 1999 ARTS OF ASIA, and is also author of the 144-page hard-bound book, Contemporary Japanese Bamboo Art (7), published by Art Media Resources in late 1999. Twenty of Japan’s leading bamboo artists are featured in portraits by Art Streiber, and the stunning photographs of bamboo baskets and sculptures are again by Pat Pollard. The author gives the reader the necessary background to understand this previously rather neglected art form in the West and the challenges faced for its future.

Amongst the exhibitors at the San Francisco Arts of Pacific Asia Show next year held from February 2nd to 4th at the Fort Mason Center are L’Asie Exotique (P.O. Box 2607, La Jolla, CA 92038, USA) who will be displaying a variety of Japanese dolls. Shown is their Gosho (a reference to the Imperial Palace in Kyoto during the Edo period) Ningyo doll (8) which can be basically defined as plump baby figures with large heads, inflated round bodies and brilliant white skin. This information comes from the in-depth article “Gosho-Ningyo, Palace Dolls from the Ayervais Collection” by L’Asie Exotique co-owner Timothy Mertel in our July-August 1996 magazine.

To be seen at the San Francisco Arts of Pacific Asia Show will be art and artefacts such as snuff bottles, historic photography, rank badges and woven embroidered robes from China; tea accessories, kimonos, metal articulated figures, woodblock prints and antique netsuke from Japan; gold and enamelled jewellery and temple figures from India; sandstone sculpture from Burma; furniture and ceremonial objects from Indonesia; and ceramics and porcelains from Korea.

This is the fifth time that I will be hosting our stand at the San Francisco Arts of Pacific Asia Show. It is always a great pleasure for me to meet our fans and supporters on these occasions. I also look forward to seeing our exhibiting dealer friends and discussing the state of their market and what we can do to help to develop it.

Is art collecting a gamble? This light-hearted question results from the unusual location of The First Las Vegas International Antique Fair which is scheduled to be held at the Sands Expo at the Venetian Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada from December 8th to 10th, 2000. The fair benefits The Nevada Museums, Library and Arts Foundation. Making this antique fair even more unusual than its venue is the strong support they are already receiving from exhibitors in Tokyo’s finest antique event: Japantique. Las Vegas features unparalleled theme hotels, the world’s top chefs and restaurants, the finest shopping to be found anywhere, extensive recreational and cultural activities, and a myriad of new attractions. This fine antique fair will capture the collecting world’s attention.

The Asia Society Hong Kong Center (4/F, The Chinese Bank Building, 61-65 Des Voeux Road Central, Hong Kong) established in 1990, has become the community’s forum for public discussion of regional and global affairs. Programmes vary from luncheon discussions and evening events to exhibitions, tours and seminars. A part of the Asia Society’s mission is the presentation of the arts and cultures of Asia to engender better understanding. As this mission closely corresponds with my own reasons for founding ARTS OF ASIA in 1970, I was truly delighted to receive the invitation to the Asia Society Gala Opening and Exhibition Preview on the evening of Thursday, September 21st, 2000 of the exhibition “Inside Out: New Chinese Art”. Held at the Hong Kong Museum of Art, this was followed by a Gala Opening Dinner at the Regent Hotel Ballroom, next door.

In her inspiring address at the dinner to an audience of over three hundred, Mrs Vishakha N. Desai (9), Senior Vice President for Cultural Programs and Director of the Galleries, Asia Society, discussed the origins of the exhibition, the curatorial and logistical challenges it presented, the response generated, and some of the surprises encountered during a five-year development period. The exhibition of contemporary Chinese art features over seventy works including installations, photographs, paintings, videos and performance art. Hong Kong, as well as the only venue in Asia, is the exhibition’s last stop. It closes here in Hong Kong on November 9th, 2000.

On Friday, October 22nd, I was pleased to attend the opening of “The Sensuous Divine” exhibition at Shambala Sculpture Gallery (2nd Floor, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, Hong Kong). This was the second of a series of exhibitions of Buddhist and Hindu sculptures. Seen with me in the picture (10), taken during the cocktail reception at the gallery, are two of the three Andy co-owners. Andy Robbins is on the left of the picture and Andy Rogers is on the right. They had thought it would take two years to put together all the pieces. So I am very impressed that they managed it in just one year after their first exhibition “The Sensuous Incarnate”. For those with the budget to buy genuine antiques, the exhibition is well worth visiting. Held in the largest gallery in Hong Kong, you can browse and take the time needed to assess a wide selection of historic stone, bronze and wood sculptures from Burma, Cambodia, India, Thailand and Tibet in interlinking spaces.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank our international readers for their support during our Thirtieth Anniversary Year. With the January-February 2001 issue we update our ARTS OF ASIA covers and contents while maintaining the original sense of design and purpose which was formulated and has been maintained since so many years ago. During the 2001 year we will do our very best to build on our past achievements, while looking forward to introducing new museum features and reporting on the latest trends and discoveries in both historical and contemporary Asian arts.

As readers of the magazine who truly enjoy it, you may find it a timely and perfect gift to your friends, relatives and associates for the coming festive season and New Year. A year’s gift subscription of six beautiful issues only costs US$60 including surface mail postage. I would personally like you all to know that your support is truly valued and appreciated, whether advertiser, contributor or subscriber. My foremost true wish is that the understanding of Asia and its diversity is further increased through your enjoyment of the arts seen in our magazine. Happy New Year.

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