tag archives: sotheby’s

‘arguably the greatest example of early ming blue and white porcelain in private hands.’

sold for US$29.5 million.

the second-highest price paid at auction for ming dynasty (1368-1644) porcelain.

an exceptionally large, fine, and important blue and white lobed ‘fish pond’ bowl | mark and period of xuande (r. 1425-1435)

sold to an asian private collector for US$29.5 million | sotheby’s hong kong | 5 april 2017 | sale HK0766 | lot 101

now on loan to the long museum, shanghai, china, for an upcoming exhibition that opens on 28 april 2017

photo credits sotheby’s

when my husband, bob, and i lived in london, i had the pleasure of meeting many brilliant scholars while i was completing my post graduate studies and masters degree in asian art at the british museum and the school of oriental and african studies (soas) at the university of london.

regina krahl, an brilliant chinese ceramics scholar, wrote ‘fishes in the imperial pond’, the essay in the sotheby’s catalog.

she described the bowl as:

‘…unrivaled in its design, its painting quality, shape and size…’

the ‘fish swimming in a lotus pond’ design is inextricably associated with daoist literature.  in ‘the pleasures of fishes’, a famous passage from the 4th century BC daoist classic zhuangzi, fish are associated with freedom of expression because they swim wherever they choose.

if you had the freedom to buy whatever you choose, would you pay an unprecedented price for an object of unrivaled quality?

thank you, sotheby’s.  for publishing my photograph of the nymphaeum garden at villa d’este in lake como, italy in the catalogue for the 15 may 2014 contemporary art day auction in new york.

sotheby’s new york | contemporary art day auction | 15 may 2014

elizabeth peyton | ben (villa d’este) | oil on canvas | 1965 | lot 448

figure 2 | the nymphaeum garden at the villa d’este, lake como italy, where elizabeth peyton was inspired to paint the present work
photo: lisa walsh for innerspace interior design llc

click here to browse the auction catalog
click here to read my previous post about lake como, italy

grazie mille, sotheby’s!

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

inspired by david hockney:  a bigger exhibition?

then, maybe you’re interested in acquiring a study for a closer grand canyon…

david hockney | a closer grand canyon | pastel on paper | signed with the artist’s initials | dated 98

sotheby’s new york | contemporary art day auction | 14 november 2013 | lot 214 | estimate US$ 400,000-600,000

click here to read more about a closer grand canyon.

click here to read more about david hockney:  a bigger exhibition, showing at the de young museum in san francisco CA from 26 october 2013-20 january 2014.

the controversy is over.

two of the twelve bronze zodiac animal sculptures that once surrounded the fountain in the gardens of the old summer palace (yuanmingyuan), a qing dynasty (1644-1911) imperial retreat near beijing, have been returned to china by french billionaire francois-henri pinault.

the zodiac sculptures were not only the subject of circle of animals/zodiac heads, a public outdoor sculpture exhibition by chinese artist/activist, ai weiwei, but also, the subject of chinese zodiac, a jackie chan action movie.

ai weiwei | circle of animals/zodiac heads

exhibited 2 may-15 july 2011 | pulitzer fountain | new york, NY

photo credit arrested motion

christie’s sold the the two sculptures for 31.4 million euros (US$40 million) during the february 2009 auction of the collection yves saint laurent et pierre berge.  but, the buyer, a chinese national, withheld payment in protest.  so, the two sculptures remained in the collection of pierre berge until they were acquired by the pinault family.

bronze rabbit and rat zodiac animal sculptures | from the fountain at the yuanmingyuan | qianlong period (r. 1736-1795)

collection yves saint laurent et pierre berge | christie’s paris | 23-25 february 2009 | sale 1209 | lots 678 and 677

photo credits les cahiers d’alain truong
the pinault family controls kering, the french luxury brand group formerly known as ppr, which also owns christie’s.

coincidently, christie’s was recently granted a license to become the first independently operated international auction house in china. (the chinese operations of christie’s compititor, sotheby’s, are a joint venture with state-owned beijing gehua cultural development group.)

could this be a convenient coincidence?

click here to read related previous posts, new york times, wall street journal, and financial times articles.