tag archives: auction

sold for US$37.7 million.

a northern song dynasty (960-1127) ru guanyao brush washer.

the most expensive piece of chinese ceramics ever sold at auction.

a highly important and extremely rare ru guanyao brush washer | northern song dynasty (960-1127)

sold for 294,287,500 HKD (US$37.7 million) | song-important chinese ceramics from the le cong tang collection | sotheby’s hong kong | 3 october 2017 | sale HK0747  | lot 5

photo credits sotheby’s

ru ware is the rarest type of chinese ceramics.  less than 100 pieces exist.  only four pieces are privately owned.  the remainder are part of museum collections.

13 pieces are part of the percival david collection, which has now been transferred to the british museum, on loan from soas university of london, where i earned my MA in asian art and archaeology, with a specialization in chinese ceramics.

it was my privilege to have direct exposure to this valuable collection under the direction of my academic advisor, dr. stacy pierson, who was then curator of the percival david foundation of chinese art.

have you ever noticed that people are mesmerized by movement?

alexander calder: performing sculpture, an exhibition at the tate modern museum in london from 11 november 2015 – 3 april 2016, could be described as mesmerizing.  it’s the largest calder exhibition ever shown in great britain, with eleven galleries displaying approximately 100 works.

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alexander calder: performing sculpture | tate modern museum | london, united kingdom | 11 november 2015 – 3 april 2016

saint paul’s cathedral and the millenium bridge in the background

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

american sculptor, alexander calder (1898-1976), may be best known for transforming sculpture into a kinetic art form.

calder|antennae with blue dots|1953|bbc

alexander calder (1898-1976) | antennae with red and blue dots | hanging mobile | aluminum and steel wire | circa 1953

collection of the tate modern museum | london, united kingdom

photo credit (c) 2015 calder foundation, new york / DACS, london via BBC

his kinetic sculptures could also be described as performance art.

at the beginning of his career, calder gained fame, received introductions, and made friends through cirque calder, the miniature mechanical circus that he created and performed in paris and new york from 1926-1931.

calder’s friends included artists joan miró (1893-1983) and fernand léger (1881-1955), as well as composer edgard varèse (1883-1965).  my husband, bob, and i were captivated by calder’s three dimensional wire caricatures of them.

‘i think best in wire.’  -alexander calder

miro

alexander calder (1898-1976) | joan miró | wire | circa 1930

on loan from a private collection

photo credit courtesy of the calder foundation via the new centrist

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alexander calder (1898-1976) | varése | wire | 1930

on loan from the whitney museum of american art | new york, NY

photo credit (c) calder foundation via the whitney

Fernand Legersmall

alexander calder (1898-1976) | fernand léger | wire | 1930

on loan from a private collection

photo credit (c) calder foundation, new york / DACS, london via the arts desk

at the tate modern, the installation and the illumination capture the shadows cast by the suspended sculptures.

portraitsjoe humphrys tate photography

room 3 | alexander calder: performing sculpture | tate modern museum | london, united kingdom | 11 november 2015 – 3 april 2016

photo credit joe humphrys, tate photography / courtesy: calder foundation, new york / DACS, london via wallpaper

calder began creating abstract sculptures, most commonly made from wire and sheet metal, following a visit to the paris studio of dutch painter piet mondrian (1872-1944) in 1930.  he began suspending his abstract sculptures, and using airflow or touch, instead of mechanics or motorization, to generate movement.  another one of his friends, artist marcel duchamp (1887-1968), called calder’s suspensions mobiles, a pun on the french words for movement and motive.

like other viewers, bob and i were magnetized by the movement of the mobiles.

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room 9 | alexander calder: performing sculpture | tate modern museum | london, united kingdom | 11 november 2015 – 3 april 2016

photo credit joe humphrys, tate photography / courtesy: calder foundation, new york / DACS, london via wallpaper

some mobiles move silently.

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alexander calder (1898-1976) | snow flurry I | hanging mobile | painted steel sheet and steel wire | 1948

on loan from the collection of the museum of modern art | new york, NY

photo credit (c) 2016 calder foundation, new york / artists rights society (ARS), new york via MOMA

caldergamma1947c calder foundation

alexander calder (1898-1976) | gamma | hanging mobile | painted sheet metal and steel wire | 1947

on loan from the collection of jon a. shirley | seattle, WA

photo credit calder foundation, new york / DACS, london via wsj

while, the movement of other mobiles creates sound.

caldertriple gong1948c calder foundation

alexander calder (1898-1976) | triple gong | hanging mobile | brass, sheet metal, wire and paint | circa 1948

on loan from the collection of the calder foundation | new york, NY

photo credit calder foundation, new york / art resource, new york / ARS, new york / DACS, london via wsj

does silence somehow seem more eloquent?

calder|black widow|1948|joe humphrys

alexander calder (1898-1976) | black widow | hanging mobile | wire and painted metal | circa 1948

on loan from the institute of architects of brazil | säo paulo, brazil

photo credit joe humphrys, tate photography / courtesy: calder foundation, new york / DACS, london via wallpaper

our visit to london conveniently coincided with the post war and contemporary art auctions, which prominently featured works by alexander calder.

the auction previews provided an opportunity to view calder’s hanging and standing mobiles more closely.

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alexander calder (1898-1976) | untitled | hanging mobile | painted sheet metal and wire | 1967

sold for £962,500 (US$ $1,396,588) | lot 2 | sale 11795 | post war and contemporary art evening auction | 11 february 2016 | christie’s king street | london, united kingdom

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

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alexander calder (1898-1976) | crag with yellow boomerang and red eggplant | standing mobile | painted sheet metal and wire | 1974

sold for £1,874,500 (US$ 2719,900) | lot 3 | sale 11795 | post war and contemporary art evening auction | 11 february 2016 | christie’s king street | london, united kingdom

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

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alexander calder (1898-1976) | the black mountain | oil on canvas | 1945

sold for £602,500 (US$ 874,228) | lot 1 | sale 11795 | post war and contemporary art evening auction | 11 february 2016 | christie’s king street | london, united kingdom

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

you could say that calder performed rather well…

how would you use a demountable house?prouve

jean prouvé (1901-1984) | 6×9 demountable house | 1944-45

phillips | design evening sale | 28 april 2015 | london, united kingdom

lot 219 | estimate £600,000-£800,000

painted steel, corrugated aluminum, painted wood, glass

300 cm (118.125 in) x 900 cm (354.375 in) x 680 cm (267.75 in)

photo credit phillips

christie’s new york is selling an extraordinary collection of chinese furniture.

 the collection of robert hatfield ellsworth | christie’s new york | 17-21 march 2015

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

the extraordinary collection of robert hatfield ellsworth includes not only chinese furniture, but also buddhist art, scholar’s objects, and contemporary paintings.

 

polychrome wood figure of a seated bodhisattva | china | song-jin dynasty (960-1234)

this sculpture greeted guests as they entered robert ellsworth’s apartment

sold for US$ 1,685,000 | christie’s new york | 17 march 2015 | sale 11418 | lot 58

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

as well as chinese bronzes, jades, and ceramics.

gilt bronze figure of a seated bear | china | western han dynasty (206 BCE-8 CE)

one of a set of four weights, used to anchor the corners of a bamboo seating mat

sold for US$ 2,853,000 | christie’s new york | 17 march 2015 | sale 11418 | lot 1

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

along with japanese, himalayan, indian, and southeast asian art.

 stable with fine horses | one of a pair of six panel screens | japan | edo period (17th century)

sold for US$ 509,000 | christie’s new york | 17 march 2015 | sale 11418 | lot 45

photo credit christie’s | wsj

the ellsworth collection is the largest private collection of asian art ever sold at auction.  the 2000 object collection will be sold during six live auctions and one on line auction held from 17-21 march 2015.

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photo credits christie’s

i was thrilled that my recent trip to new york coincided with the auction preview, which is, not surprisingly, generating unprecedented crowds.  the auctions also seem to be generating unprecedented results.

robert ellsworth (1929-2014) was a prominent american asian art collector, dealer, and scholar.  he sold asian art from his 22 room new york apartment, located on fifth avenue near the metropolitan museum of art.  as an asian art dealer, ellsworth has been credited with establishing new collecting categories, such as ancient chinese jades, or chinese furniture from the ming (1368-1644) and qing (1644-1911) dynasties.  his clients included major museums, such as the met, the museum of fine arts, boston, the cleveland museum of art, the philadelphia museum of art, and the nelson-atkins museum.  plus, important private collectors, such as john d. rockefeller III, who donated his asian art collection to the asia society.

ellsworth’s publications include chinese furniture:  hardwood examples of the ming and early ch’ing dynasties, which is considered one of the chinese furniture reference books.

some of the most important pieces of chinese furniture in the ellsworth collection are huanghuali wood tables and chairs.

chinese furniture is usually categorized according to construction technique.  chinese tables usually have either corner legs or recessed legs.  corner leg tables can be either unwaisted or waisted.

huanghuali waisted rectangular corner-leg games table | china | ming dynasty (17th century)

robert ellsworth received this table as a 60th birthday gift

sold for US$ 1,205,000 | christie’s new york | 17 march 2015 | sale 11418 | lot 44

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace, christie’s, lisa walsh | innerspace, and christie’s

chinese games tables are usually square.  this table is exceptional because it is the only known example of a rectangular games table with drawers.  the removable top and game boards are also unusual.

 recessed leg tables can have either plain or cloud shaped spandrels.

huanghuali recessed leg painting table | china | ming dynasty (17th century)

sold for US$ 3,525,000 | christie’s new york | 17 march 2015 | sale 11418 | lot 42

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace
this painting table is exceptional because of the massive timber, generous width, and early date.

 huanghuali recessed leg table | china | ming dynasty (17th century)

sold for US$ 1,565,000 | christie’s new york | 17 march 2015 | sale 11418 | lot 46

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace, christie’s, and lisa walsh | innerspace

chinese armchairs usually have either rectangular or round backs with either protruding or continuous crest rails.

pair of huanghuali ‘four corner exposed’ official’s hat armchairs | china | ming dynasty (17th century)

sold for US$ 2,045,000 | christie’s new york | 18 march 2015 | sale 11419 | lot 121

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace and christie’s


pair of huanghuali bamboo-form continuous horseshoe-back armchairs | china | late ming-early qing dynasty (17th-early 18th century)

sold for US$ 2,629,000 | christie’s new york | 17 march 2015 | sale 11418 | lot 47

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace, lisa walsh | innerspace, and christie’s

this pair of horseshoe back armchairs is exceptional because the chairs have continuous back rails, which are quite fragile, and therefore extremely rare.  the round members, undulating aprons, and wrap around stretchers emulate bamboo, which was a less expensive material than hardwood.

a set of four huanghuali horseshoe-back armchairs | china | ming dynasty (17th century)

sold for US$ 9,685,000 | christie’s new york | 17 march 2015 | sale 11418 | lot 41

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace
several unusual features distinguish this set of four armchairs from other horsehoe-back armchairs.

huanghuali horseshoe-back armchair | china | qing dynasty (17th-18th century)

sold for US$ 581,000 | christie’s new york | 18 march 2015 | sale 11419 | lot 139

photo credit christie’s

the extremely elegant curve of the crest rails.  the exceptional sweeping hooks of the handles.  the unusual three-part pierced backsplats.  and, the sublime grain of the wood, which suggests a mountain landscape.

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

do you think that these features make the four armchairs worth US$ 9,000,000?

i love living in san francisco.  but, sometimes i miss living in a larger city, like london.  i especially miss the auction previews in mayfair and st. james’s.  they seem like pop-up museums.

i missed the harry bertoia selling exhibition at wright in their new york auction gallery from 1/22/14-2/15/14.  so, while i was working in new york last week, i popped in to see bertoia: a celebration of sound and motion, a selling exhibition at sotheby’s from 11 february-9 march 2014.

harry bertoia may be best known for his sound sculptures, called sonambients.

‘…a sculptural element breaking silence,

it has a voice,

hence, we listen to it,

maybe there is something to say.’

-harry bertoia, 1972

harry bertoia (1915-1978) | eleven monumental sound sculptures, commissioned for the standard oil building plaza | chicago, IL | 1975

harry bertoia (1915-1978) | monumental sound sculpture from the standard oil commission | beryllium copper and brass | 1975

photo credits wright 20 and lisa walsh | innerspace

and, for his other welded wire constructions.

 harry bertoia (1915-1978) | large spray | stainless steel and steel wire | circa 1965

harry bertoia (1915-1978) | pine tree | stainless steel and steel | circa 1955

photo credits sotheby’s

‘wire forms have a great range of expressions.

their constructions pertain to space rather than ground,

and their configurations can be light, airy, almost floating.’

-harry bertoia

the sotheby’s installation reminded me of the ruth asawa sculpture gallery at the de young museum in san francisco.  asawa’s looped and tied wire sculptures explore the relationships between light, shadow, transparency, and form.  bertoia’s sculptures also incorporate sound and motion.

click here to read my previous post about ruth asawa.

ruth asawa sculpture gallery | lobby | hamon tower | de young museum | san francisco, CA

harry bertoia (1915-1978) | dandelion | gilt stainless steel, brass and slate | 1960

photo credits joseph mcdonald, lisa walsh | innerspace, and sotheby’s

like bertoia’s wire constructions, his bush sculptures are radiant and organic.  almost like they could continue to grow naturally.

‘i regard nature as being the strongest influence.’

-harry bertoia, 1957

harry bertoia (1915-1978) | bush | patinated bronze | 1965

harry bertoia (1915-1978) | bush | patinated bronze | 1965

harry bertoia (1915-1978) | bush | patinated bronze | 1965

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

i have an asian art background.  so, some of bertoia’s naturalistic sculptures remind me of chinese antiquities.  the patina of ancient chinese bronzes.  the textures, forms, and perforations of antique chinese scholar’s rocks.

money tree | bronze with glazed earthenware base | eastern han dynasty (25-220)

asian art museum (aamsf) | san francisco, CA

black lingbi y-shaped scholar’s rock | 18th/19th century

christie’s new york | 16-17 september 2010 | sale 2339 | lot 1227

photo credits aamsf and christie’s


harry bertoia (1915-1978) | untitled | patinated bronze | circa 1965

harry bertoia (1915-1978) | untitled | patinated bronze | circa 1965

harry bertoia (1915-1978) | untitled | welded and patinated bronze | circa 1960

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

other bertoia sculptures are more metaphysical.

‘…my mind would think in terms of cosmic relationships,

such as planetary systems and galaxies…’

-harry bertoia, 1972

don’t you think that bertoia’s comet sculpture is spectacular?

 harry bertoia (1915-1978) | maquette for the comet sculpture, designed for the w. hawkins ferry residence | grosse pointe shores, MI | brass coated metal wire and bronze | 1964

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

‘the work of harry bertoia defies categorization.

its singular, aggressively personal expression,

sits on the borders between art, design, sculpture, and instrument.’

-reed krakoff, designer and bertoia collector, 2014