tag archives: christie’s

 

my husband, bob, and i arrived in milan on the final day of the osvaldo borsani retrospective at la triennale di milano design museum.

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

 

the retrospective was designed and curated by the norman foster foundation and l’archivio osvaldo borsani (the osvaldo borsani archive), in partnership with the museum.

the design of the exhibition was exceptional.  over 300 objects were organized chronologically from 1925-1985, and installed along opposite walls of the U-shaped gallery.  archival materials, including drawings, documents, and photographs, hung opposite furniture and objects displayed on a cubic grid system inspired by american artist, sol lewitt.

the exhibition was also exceptionally well curated.  the documents corresponded with the objects.  so, it was easy to understand the creative context.

osvaldo borsani | 16 may-15 september | la triennale di milano | milan, italy

photo credit (c) agostino osio via tomoarchitects

 

osvaldo borsani (1911-1985) was not only a visionary twentieth century architect, designer, and industrial designer, but also the co-founder of the contract furniture brand, tecno.  however, as a residential interior designer, i was most interested in the furniture that he designed during the 1930’s, 1940’s, and 1950’s for arredamenti borsani varedo (borsani varedo furnishings) (abv), his family’s furniture business.

osvaldo borsani (1911-1985)

bar | travertine, walnut wood, parchment, glass, brass | abv | 1940’s | dimore gallery collection

sofa | wood, mahogany wood, velvet fabric | abv | 1935 | private collection

l’archivio di varedo / interni / casa m | photographs 4 and 8, rendering 9

table | maple wood, glass | abv | 1939 | private collection

table | black lacquered wood, gilding, glass | abv | 1939 | nicolas kilner gallery collection

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 

osvaldo borsani (1911-1985)

bar | maple wood, mirror, lighting | abv | 1939 | private collection

l’archivio di varedo / anni ’40 | rendering 2

desk | walnut wood | abv | 1947 | atelier automobili amos collection

armchairs | wood, fabric | abv | 1948 | private collection

l’archivio di varedo / collaborazioni | photograph 31

table | walnut wood, glass | abv | 1939 | jochum rodgers collection, berlin

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 

osvaldo borsani (1911-1985)

wardrobe | maple wood | abv | 1940 | private collection

dresser | maple wood, mirror, brass | abv | private collection

table | walnut wood, silvered glass, lighting | abv | 1940 ) galleria michela cattai collection

l’archivio di varedo / prodotti atelier | photograph 79

side chairs | walnut wood, fabric | abv | 1940 | galleria michela cattai collection

l’archivio di varedo / anni ’40 | drawing 15

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 

osvaldo borsani (1911-1985)

bed | wood | abv | 1938 | private collection

cabinet | wood, glass, lighting | abv | 1941 | private collection

l’archivio di varedo / prodotti atelier | photograph 99

armchairs | wood, velvet fabric | 1944 | private collection

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 

osvaldo borsani (1911-1985)

bar | white lacquered wood | abv | 1939 | jochum rodgers collection, berlin

mirror with shelf | wood, glass, lighting | abv | 1948 | fragile collection

card table | wood, inlay | abv | 1942 | private collection

desk | wood, | abv, later tecno | 1953 | private collection

side chairs | wood, fabric | abv | 1938 | britt moran and emiliano salci collection

l’archivio di varedo / anni ’30 | renderings 23 and 27

l’archivio di varedo / interni / casa m | photograph 3

bar | wood, leather, velvet, murano glass | abv | 1940 | private collection

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 

osvaldo borsani (1911-1985)

mirror and shelf | gilded wood, marble, optional lighting | abv | 1950 | private collection

l’archivio di varedo / prodotti atelier | photograph 118

console | white lacquered wood, brass | abv | 1940’s | private collection, turin

armchair | wood, fabric | abv | 1941 | private collection

l’archivio di varedo / prodotti atelier | photographs 73 and 82

table | brass, wood or glass top | abv | 1948 | private collection

l’archivio di varedo / prodotti atelier | photographs 124 and 125

l’archivio di varedo / collaborazioni | photograph 26

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 

osvaldo borsani (1911-1985)

sideboard | rosewood, bronze | abv | 1945 | private collection

table | brass, wood | abv | 1949 | private collection

l’archivio di varedo / anni ’50 | rendering 21

console | gilded wood, marble | abv | 1947 | private collection

l’archivio di varedo / prodotti atelier | photograph 143

table | brass, marble | abv | 1941 | private collection

l’archivio di varedo / anni ’50 | rendering 16

table | brass, wood or glass top | 1950 | abv | private collection

armchair | wood, velvet fabric | 1945 | private collection

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 

osvaldo borsani (1911-1985)

sideboard | walnut wood, inlay | abv | 1943 | private collection

console | maple wood | abv | 1945 | private collection

table | wood, marble or glass top | abv | 1947 | private collection

l’archivio di varedo / prodotti atelier | photograph 121

floor lamp | coated metal | abv | 1945 | private collection

table | wood, glass | abv | 1947 | private collection

armchair | walnut wood, fabric | abv | 1946 | private collection

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 

osvaldo borsani (1911-1985)

console | mahogany wood, glass | abv | 1949 | private collection

l’archivio di varedo / prodotti atelier | photograph 138

l’archivio di varedo / collaborazioni | photograph 39

sideboard | rosewood, bronze | abv | 1945 | private collection

armchairs | wood, wood or bakelite armrests, fabric | abv, later tecno | 1946-1953 | private collection, and prada collection

l’archivio di varedo / anni ’40 | rendering 36

l’archivio di varedo / prodotti atelier | photographs 115, 116, 135, and 142

table | rosewood, glass  | abv | 1947 | private collection

table | maple wood, engraved glass | abv | 1946 | private collection

l’archivio di varedo / prodotti atelier | photograph 119

l’archivio di varedo / collaborazioni | photograph 5

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 

osvaldo borsani (1911-1985)

console | mahogany wood, white granite | abv | presented at the IX trienniale | 1951 | private collection

l’archivio di varedo / prodotti atelier | photograph 137

sofa | abv, later tecno | 1952 | private collection

armchairs | wood, wood or bakelite armrests, fabric | abv, later tecno | 1953 | private collection

l’archivio di varedo / anni ’50 | drawing 24

l’archivio di varedo / prodotti atelier | photograph 144

l’archivio di varedo / collaborazioni | photographs 25 and 38

l’archivio di varedo | interni | casa n | photograph 3

table | wood, onyx | abv, later tecno | 1953 | private collection

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 

osvaldo borsani (1911-1985)

bar | mahogany wood, bronze | handles designed by lucio fontana | abv | 1949 | dimore gallery collection

console | wood, marble | abv | 1944 | private collection

triennale side chairs | wood, fabric | abv | presented at the IX triennale | 1951 | dimore gallery collection

l’archivio di varedo / prodotti atelier | photograph 136

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 

are you inspired to begin collecting borsani furniture from the 1930’s, 1940’s, or 1950’s?

if so, you could consider bidding on the triennale table and chairs offered in the italian design auction at christie’s in london on 17 october 2018.

osvaldo borsani (1911-1985) | a ‘triennale’ dining suite, designed 1951 | estimate GBP 12,000.00-18,000.00

thinking italian design | sale 16017 | lot 17 | christie’s london | 17 october 2018

photo credit christies

 

or, maybe on the tables offered in the important design auction at phillips in london on 18 october 2018.

osvaldo borsani (1911-1985) | pair of side tables | circa 1948 | estimate GBP 5000.00-7000.00

important design | sale uk050318 | lot 30 | phillips london | 18 october 2018

photo credit phillips

 

the most significant collection of works by richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) ever sold at auction.

 

masterpieces by richard diebenkorn

property sold to benefit the donald and barbara zucker family foundation

christie’s | new york | post-war & contemporary art evening sale & morning session | 17-18 may 2018

 

a career spanning collection of 22 paintings and works on paper.

the home of donald and barbara zucker

photo credit (c) richard diebenkorn foundation via christie’s 17 may 2018 post-war and contemporary art evening sale catalogue, p. 156

 

ocean park | paintings and works on paper

healdsburg, CA (1988-1993)

santa monica, CA  (1966-1987)

sold for US$23,937,500

the world record auction price for a painting by richard diebenkorn (1922-1993)

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | ocean park #126 | oil on canvas | 1984

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art evening sale | 17 may 2018 | sale 15968 | lot 26b

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

sold for US$3,972,500

the world record auction price for a work on paper by richard diebenkorn (1922-1993)

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | untitled | acrylic, crayon, graphite and pasted paper on joined paper | 1991

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art evening sale | 17 may 2018 | sale 15968 | lot 28b

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

sold for US$3,852,500

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | untitled | gouache, acrylic and crayon on paper | 1984

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art evening sale | 17 may 2018 | sale 15968 | lot 23b

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

sold for US$1,092,500

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | untitled | gouache, charcoal and pasted paper on joined paper | 1986

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art evening sale | 17 may 2018 | sale 15968 | lot 31b

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

sold for US$696,500

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | untitled | gouache, wax crayon and graphite on paper | 1985-1987

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art morning session | 18 may 2018 | sale 15969 | lot 619

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

sold for US$588,500

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | untitled | gouache, acrylic, charcoal, graphite and pastel on paper | 1984-1992

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art morning session | 18 may 2018 | sale 15969 | lot 624

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

sold for US$432,500

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | untitled | acrylic and charcoal on two joined sheets of paper | 1973

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art morning session | 18 may 2018 | sale 15969 | lot 626

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

sold for US$372,500

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | untitled | acrylic, gouache and charcoal on paper | 1981

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art morning session | 18 may 2018 | sale 15969 | lot 625

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

sold for US$336,500

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | untitled | watercolor, wax crayon and graphite on paper | 1988-1992

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art morning session | 18 may 2018 | sale 15969 | lot 619

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

 

also sold at sotheby’s:

property from an important new york collection

sold for US$10,953,500

richard diebenkorn (1922 – 1993) | ocean park #55 | oil and charcoal on canvas | 1972

sotheby’s | new york | contemporary art evening auction | 16 may 2018 | sale n09858 | lot 18
photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

 

representational | paintings and works on paper

landscapes | still lifes | figures

berkeley, CA (1955-1966)

sold for US$5,262,500

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | cityscape #3 | oil on canvas | 1963

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art evening sale | 17 may 2018 | sale 15968 | lot 30b

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

sold for US$852,500

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | table and folding chair | oil on canvas | 1962

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art evening sale | 17 may 2018 | sale 15968 | lot 27b

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

sold for US$106,250

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | untitled | ink, graphite and charcoal on paper | 1964

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art morning session | 18 may 2018 | sale 15969 | lot 627

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

sold for US$1,152,500

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | nude—elbow on knee | oil on canvas | 1961

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art evening sale | 17 may 2018 | sale 15968 | lot 24b

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

sold for US$432,500

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | untitled | oil on canvas | circa 1957-1962

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art evening sale | 17 may 2018 | sale 15968 | lot 29b

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

sold for US$250,000

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | portrait of n.s. | oil on canvas | 1957

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art morning session | 18 may 2018 | sale 15969 | lot 621

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

sold for US$87,500

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | untitled | watercolor and gouache on paper | 1961

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art morning session | 18 may 2018 | sale 15969 | lot 622

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

sold for US$137.500

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | untitled | ink and charcoal on paper | 1967

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art morning session | 18 may 2018 | sale 15969 | lot 623

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

 

also sold at christie’s:

property of late owners

sold for US$4,692,500

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | untitled | oil on canvas | circa 1963-1964

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art evening sale | 17 may 2018 | sale 15968 | lot 41b
photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

property from a distinguished new york collector

sold for US$100,000

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | untitled | ink and conté crayon on paper | 1962

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art morning session | 18 may 2018 | sale 15969 | lot 704
photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

 

abstract expressionist | paintings and works on paper

berkeley, CA (1953-1955)

urbana, IL (1952-1953)

albuquerque, NM (1950-1952)

sausalito, CA (1947-1949)

sold for US$1,032,500

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | berkeley #25 | oil on canvas | 1954

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art evening sale | 17 may 2018 | sale 15968 | lot 25b

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

sold for US$20,000

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | untitled (berkeley) | ink and gouache on paper | 1955

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art morning session | 18 may 2018 | sale 15969 | lot 628

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

sold for US$552,500

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | sausalito | oil on canvas | 1949

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art evening sale | 17 may 2018 | sale 15968 | lot 32b

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

 

have you ever dreamt of living with a US$46,000,000 salon-style art installation?

the home of donald and barbara zucker

photo credit (c) richard diebenkorn foundation via christie’s 17 may 2018 post-war and contemporary art evening sale catalogue, p. 157

 

sold for US$432,500

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | untitled | gouache on paper | circa 1953-1955

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art evening sale | 17 may 2018 | sale 15968 | lot 21b

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

sold for US$468,500

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | untitled | gouache and charcoal on paper | circa 1957-1966

christie’s | new york | post-war and contemporary art evening sale | 17 may 2018 | sale 15968 | lot 22b

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

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.

IMG_4533

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.

10_calder

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.

IMG_4731

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

IMG_4941

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

IMG_4807

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…

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.

  III 

IIIIV

VVI

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?

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.