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South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art


September 16, 2009

Sale 2194

Hugo Eihe, Christie's Internatinal Director, with Tyeb Mehta's "Mahishasura"

Hugo Weihe, Christies International Director, Asian Art, with Lot 533, Tyeb Mehta's " Mahishasura," formerly in the collection of The Times of India Group, and Lot 526, Ram Kumar's "Le Maquis," in Christie's Galleries, Rockefeller Center, New York.

By Michele Leight

In a gallery filled with beautiful art works of superb quality, Hugo Weihe, Christie's International Specialist Head of Asian Art spoke with regret and emotion of the recent passing of Tyeb Mehta in July, 2009, and of two important works by him included in this sale, the cover lot 543, "Two Figures," painted in 1994 (estimate $600,000 to $800,000), and Lot 533, "Mahishasura," also with an estimate of $600,000 to $800,000.

"Two Figures" by Tyegb Mehta

Lot 543, "Two Figures," by Tyeb Mehta, 1994, acrylic on canvas, 59 1/8 by 35 ½ inches

Christie's catalogue for the sale notes:

"Following a series of illnesses, Tyeb Mehta spent 1984-85 as an artist in residence at Visva-Bharati University founded by Rabindranath Tagore in Shantiniketan. His time there with its idyllic surroundings rejuvenated him and re-ignited an optimism that he had lost over the years. Bengal reminded him of childhood visits to his maternal grandparents who lived in Calcutta and his stay in Shantiniketan culminated in one of his largest and most significant works to date, "Shantiniketan Triptych. It depicts tribal priestesses enacting an ancient purification ritual and introduces the tropes of celebration in Tyeb's work."

"Two Figures" is inspired by mother goddesses and the spring festival of the Santhals, and marks a transition between his more tortured, or "hacked" diagonal style - derived from painful memories of sectarian and religious violence during partition - and his more playful mother goddesses.

The acrylic on canvas measures 59 1/8 by 35 1/2 inches and was painted in 1994.  It has an estimte of $600,000 to $800,000. It sold for $926,500 including the buyer's premium.

"Mahyishasura" by Mehta

Lot 533, "Mahishasura," by Tyeb Mehta, 1994, acrylic on canvas, 59 ¼ by 47 3/8 inches

"Mahishasura" was also painted in 1994, and is a dramatic Mehta diagonal composition of twisted human and animal forms, part god, part buffalo entwined with the Devi, or mother goddess, in combat.

Christie's has a significant history with Mehta, first selling "Celebration Triptych" in their September 2002 sale in New York for $317,000 - making it the first Indian painting to sell for over $100,000 - and again at Christie's New York in September 2005, when Mehta's "Mahishasura," (1997) sold for $1.58 million, the first Indian artwork to surpass the million dollar mark.  This version has an estimate of $600,000 to $800,000.  It sold for $1,298,900.

"Le Maquis" by Raza

 Lot 526, "Le Maquis," by Syed Hyder Raza, 1965, acrylic on board, 49 ½ by 59 ½ inches

Lot 526, "Le Maquis," is an exquisite work by Syed Hyder Raza (b. 1922), one of the founding members of the Progressive Artist's Group created in 1947, the year of India's Independence. This acrylic on board, which measuress 49 1/2 by 59 1/2 inches, harks back to his roots and childhood memories of the densely forested village in Kakaya, Madhya Pradesh where he grew up.  It has an estimate of $300,000 to $500,000. It failed to sell.

The catalogue contains this observation from A. Vajpej's "A Life in Art, Art Alive Gallery, New Delhi, 2007: "Raza was appreciative of the art of Mark Rothko. He remarked 'I had more affinity with and regard for Mark Rothko and Hans Hoffman's research, which were, in my opinion, not only important for American painting but for the future development of painting all over the world.'"

 Untilted workk by Syed Haider Raza

Lot 539, "Untitled," by Syed Haider Raza, 1963, oil on board, 19 ½ by 23 ½ inches

Painted earlier in 1963, Lot 539, "Untitled," (estimate $70,000-90,000), by Raza is an expressionistic, luscious work that for-shadows his vibrantly hued later works encompassing strong geometric shapes in primary colors, like Lot 540, "Surya," painted in 1997, with an estimate of $150,000-200,000, not illustrated here. Lot 552, the Goan artist Francis Newton Souza's (1924-2002) "Nude with Mirror," (estimate $300,000-500,000) is a dehumanized Odalisque, whose distorted face recalls the worst atrocities, and as the catalog notes, Picasso's Guernica and Francis Bacon's disquieting heads and torsos. Bacon and Souza were contemporaries and socialized together in London's Soho, and while Souza disavowed being influenced by him but by his own background, at least one of their models overlapped - Henrietta Moraes, who was born in India. Another member of this charmed circle was Sonia Orwell, wife of Eric Blair, better known as George Orwell, author of "1984" and "Animal Farm," also born in India. Lot 539 sold for $86,500.  Lot 540 sold for $176,500. 

"Nude with Mirror" by Souza

Lot 552, "Nude with Mirror," by Francis Newton Souza, 1963, oil on canvas, 33 1/2 by 70 inches

Lot 552 is a "Nude with Mirror" by Francis Newton Souza (1924-2002).  It is an oil on canvas that measures 33 1/2 by 70 inches and has an estimate of $300,000 to $500,000.  Lot 552 failed to sell. The catalogue entry notes that ""The visceral form of the reclining nude, as if nailed onto the bed does not nestle in its firm cushions but writhes with sexual energy and agression" adding that "Souza has dehumanized the figure, brining out an inner beast, the turbulence and violence in the face harkens at once images of Picasso and Francis Bacon."

Two very different works painted three decades apart by Maqbool Fida Husain (b. 1915) are illustrated below: 

"Untitled work" by Maqbool Fida Hussein

Lot 582, "Untitled," by Maqbool Fida Husain, 1965, oil on canvas, 34 ½ by 48 inches

Lot 582, "Untitled," a sophisticated blue and earth-toned modernist composition painted in 1964, acquired from Chemould in Park Street, Calcutta, in 1966, and the more graphic "Untitled (Mother Teresa Series)," of 1994, a depiction of a faceless Mother Teresa with a figure resembling Christ, or one of the many dying destitutes she picked up off the streets of Calcutta and cared for in her home "Nirmal Hriday" in Kalighat, and a child with arms outstretched toward her.  Lot 582 has an estimate of $120,000 to $180,000.  It sold for $182,500.

 "Untitled (Mother Teresa Series)" by Husain

Lot 545, "Untitled (Mother Teresa Series)," by Maqbool Fida Husain, 1994, acrylic on canvas, 72 by 96 inches

The catalog notes: "Husain's Mother Teresa references the imagery of Mother India (Bharat Mata), the Virgin Mary, Pieta, and Husain's own mother who died when he was very young." Closely associated with Calcutta, Husain began a series of paintings of one of the city's most famous citizens - Mother Teresa - in the 1980s. The distinctive white cotton sari with a thin blue border worn by Mother Teresa and the nuns of her order, The Missionaries of Charity, were always visible in Calcutta's worst slums, as they still are, after she passed away.

A fine group of paintings by the Bengali artist Jamini Roy (1887-1972) ranging in price from $30,00 to $50,000, include an unusual gouache on card composition "Untitled (Yashoda and Krishna)" (Lot 503, estimate $30,000 to $50,000), acquired pre-1950s directly from the artist, and Lot 505, "Untitled (Lava and Kusha with Valmiki and Sita)," (estimate $25,000 to $35,000), a sophisticated gouache on fabric mounted on board, formerly in the collection of Marion Keller, who was with the American Embassy in Delhi from 1957-59, not illustrated here.  Lot 503 sold for $62,500.  Lot 505 sold for $27,500.

"Untilted (Yashoda and Krishna)" by Roy

Lot 503, "Untitled (Yashoda and Krishna)," by Jamini Roy, gouache on card, 29 1/14 by 21 ½ inches

Jamini Roy's work derives from traditional Bengali folk painting - pata - and Kalighat paintings, and their clean modernist lines and natural pigments appeal to Indians and foreigners alike. Jamini Roy is considered the father of the folk renaissance in India, and his graphic compositions are strangely comforting and instantly recognizable, as in the stylized depiction of a traditional Indian mother and child, Lot 501, "Untitled (Mother and Child)," illustrated below, in gorgeous royal blue with earth tones. It has an estimate of $8,000 to $10,000.  It sold for $16,500.

"Untitled (Mother and Child)" by Roy


Lot 501, "Untitled (Mother and Child)," by Jamini Roy, gouache on fabric mounted on board, 16 5/8 by 11 inches

Jagdish Swaminathan's Lot 538, "Untitled," (estimate $300,000 to $500,000), painted in 1991, marks a departure from his childlike "Bird, Mountain, and Tree" series. This amazing, heavily textured painting is rich with symbolism drawn from tribal motifs. The mountains of his earlier works have now morphed into abstract triangles, symbolizing the abode of the Hindu god Shiva. The rich pigments drawn over wax recall India's red and ochre earth - Mother Earth - from which sustenance and life are renewed each year.  It sold for $538,500.

"Untitled" by Swaminathan
Lot 538, "Untitled," by Jagdish Swaminathan, 1991, oil and water on canvas, 57 ½ by 92 ¼ inches

Many vibrant works by contemporary Indian and Pakistani artists lit up the walls of Christie's galleries: sadly it is not possible to include them all. A particular favorite is "Dawn Chorus - 7," (2007) by Jitish Kallat, from his Dawn Chorus Series, which captures the beauty and pathos of Indian street children, who work long hours selling trinkets and magazines and as domestics, and walk the razor's edge of India's socio-conomic divide. In this winsome painting, the children's carefree, joyful faces are crowned with "hair" encompassing Mumbai's dense, frenetic cityscape, implying the burdens such a life imposes on them, and their helplessness in the face of it.  Lot 557 sold for $386,500.

"Dawn Chorus" by Kallat

Lot 557, "Dawn Chorus - 7," by Jitish Kallat, 2007, acrylic on canvas, two bronze sculptures; canvas 95 ½ by 80 inches, with Christies specialists for this sale Deepanjana Klein (New York) on the right, and Yamini Mehta (London) on the left

Rashid Rana lives and works in Lahore, a city steeped in history, with some of the most beautiful architecture in all of Asia. His art reflects the realities of modern geopolitics and serve as a commentary on them. Violence has haunted beautiful Lahore since partition, where horrific religious and sectarian killings made headlines, as Indians and Pakistanis moved across a newly created border to live with the majority of their own people. Such heart-rending situations come about through the machinery of politics, and the innocent and helpless get caught in the middle. Rana's superb digitized vocabulary reveal multiple world views, packaged in precise geometric miniature - another traditional Islamic art form. His digital photographs are cropped and re-organized, so we do not at first realize what the subject is.


"Red Carpet - 2" by Rashid Rana

Lot 569, "Red Carpet - 2," by Rashid Rana, 2007, chromogenic print and Diasec mounted, 72 by 60 inches

"Duality" is a constant theme in Rana's work, portrayed here (Lot 569, estimate $120,000 to $180,000) in what appears at first glance to be a traditional Persian Rug - "Red Carpet - 2" - but which on close inspection is slaughtered goats, following halal laws. The blood-stained floor and cut up flesh forms the beautiful "red" of the carpet. The artist reduces the scale, releasing us from the unpleasantness of having to ingest such disturbing imagery whole. A "Red Carpet - 1" by Rana is included in the exhibition "Hanging Fire: Contemporary Art from Pakistan" at The Asia Society in New York, on view from September 10 2009-January 3, 2010. (  Lot 569 sold for $170,500.

"Untitled" by Konm

Lot 604, "Untitled," by Riyas Komu, 2006, oil on canvas, 54 by 36 inches

The determined yet fragile face of a woman looking sideways is the subject of the Kerala born artist Riya Komu's enigmatic "Untitled," (Lot 604, estimate $20,000-25,000). Lot 604 sold for $32,500.  Nilima Sheik's "AfterAmnesia" (Lot 590, estimate $20,000 to $30,000) is beautifully rendered in tempera, and was exhibited at "Conversations with Traditions: Nilima Sheikh - Shazia Sikander" at The Asia Society in New York in November 2001-2002. Lot 560, "Phone Now + 91 114174 0215," by the wonderful duo Thukral & Tagra, is a component of an installation called "Everyday Bosedk" exhibited at Nature Morte in May 2007, and typically for these artists it is a tragi-comic indictment of decadence, over-sonsumption, over-spending and addiciton in 21st century culture.  Lot 590 sold for $25,000.

 "After Amnesia" by Sheik

Lot 590, "After Amnesia," by Nilima Sheik, 2001, tempera on Sanganeri paper attached to cloth; triptych: 18 by 27 inches; 11 ¾ inches; 39 ¼ by 27 inches

Bengal has always been a major cultural center steeped in the arts, and it is striking to note how many leading Indian artists have strong connections to Bengal, and to Visva Bharati, the college founded in 1901 by Rabrindranath Tagore at Shantiniketan at a critical time in India's history, when it sought independence from Great Britain. Many of these artists also spent time in New York - as students, visiting lecturers and fellows - an experience that greatly influenced their work.It is an ongoing project and this work has an estimate of $25,000 to $35,000.

"Phone Now + 91 114174 0215" by Thukral & Tagra

Lot 560, "Phone Now + 91 114174 0215, by Thukral & Tagra (Jiten Thukral and Sumir Tagra), 2006, acrylic and oil on canvas,71 7/8 by 72 inches

Several works from The Bengal School are included in this sale, and some have a historic as well aesthetic value, given the turbulent political times in which they were created and that Bengal was the home of many of India's freedom fighters. The Indian Society of Oriental Art was founded in 1907 "in service of the new generaiton of Bengali, nationalist artists," notes Christie's catalogue for the sale. The Society published "Rupam" from 1920 onwards, and its activities were promoted by an illustrious and distinguished trio - Gagendranath Tagore as organizer, Abindranath as teacher and Rabindranath Tagore as the visionary. It is recorded in the Bauhaus archives in Weimar that the Tagores initiated the first exhibition of Bauhaus works on paper outside Germany in Calcutta in 1922. It was also the first exhibition of its kind in India and included works by legendary artists - Lionel Feininger, Wassily Kandinsky, Johannes Itten, Paul Klee and many others. Lot 313, "Untitled," (not illustrated here), by Gagendranath Tagore, demonstrates shows the influence of Feininger. It has an estimate of $10,000 to $15,000.

 It is sad when a great artist dies, but their art lives on. Tyeb Mehta drew inspiration from New York City, and returned here in 2005 for the first time since 1968 for the launch of his monograph "Tyeb Mehta: Ideas, Images, Exchanges," at Christie's Rockefeller Center. Memories of the artist and of that groundbreaking auction are transcribed in the catalogue for this sale:

"Watching the auction of 'Mahishasura,' (1997), sitting on the aisle in these very rooms with his characteristic humility, Tyeb took in the applause, which lasted for many minutes, and in a sense was a valediction on a long, and at times, arduous career. His avowed hope was that the legacy of such a spectacular price would allow his work to some day grace the walls of New York's Museum of Modern Art and other equally hallowed spaces, alongside his artistic forbearers and inspirations. To him, this moment was now a step closer for Indian art."


Indian and Southeast Asian Art

Hugo Weihe with Lot 744, a gray schist figure of a seated Buddha, Gandahara

Hugo Weihe, Christies International Dirctor, Asian Art, with Lot 744, "A Gray Schist Figure of a Seated Buddha, Gandahara," from the Paul Manheim Collection

This sale features many fine works from the Collection of Mr and Mrs. Paul Manheim, an outstanding Tibetan Gilt Bronze from the Robert Ellsworth Collection and an important set of seven thangkas of the Great Fifth Dalai Lama and His Lineage. Lot 744, The Gray Schist Figure of a Seated Buddha" from Gandhara (estimate $120,000 to $180,000), illustrated above and below is, according to Mr. Weihe, "one of the finest examples one can find," and a stand-out for its serenity and beauty among the other superb works of art surrounding it. The carving shows humanistic Greek and Roman influences, because, as Mr. Weihe pointed out, Gandhara was occupied by both. The fluidity of the drapery, and sensitively modeled face is the work of a superb sculptor.  Lot 744 sold for $218,500.

"A Gray Schist Figure of a Seated Buddha"

Lot 744, "A Gray Schist Figure of a Seated Buddha," Gandhara, 2nd/3rd Century, 26 inches high, from the Paul Manheim Collection

 Paul Manheim (1906-1999) was a partner at Lehman Brothers - "a long time ago" said Mr. Weihe with a smile - and spent his riches wisely on superb Asian art from India and Nepal. A rare and sophisticated collector, Paul Manheim gave generously to The Brooklyn Museum, where he served on The Board of Trustees, and was instrumental in expanding its reknowned collection of Asian art. Simultaneously an acute businessman, collector and an intellectual, Mr. Manheim favored surprising juxtapositions of his beloved Asian treasures with traditional Western paintings and furniture, an avant garde concept at the time.

Silver inlaid bronze figure of Avalokitesharva

Lot 764, "A Rare Silver Inlaid Bronze Figure of Avalokiteshvara," Kashmir School in Western Tibet, 10th/11th Century

Also from The Manheim Collection is the graceful "Rare Silver Inlaid Bronze Figure of Avalokiteshvara" illustrated above (Lot 764, estimate $150,000 to $250,000) his eyes inlaid with silver, with skin of luscious chocolate brown patina because it is cast from rich copper alloy typical of Kashmir. This figure is superbly and sinuously modeled. Lot 764 sold for $182,500. Illustrated below is Lot 804, "A Large and Important Gilt Bronze Figure of Atisha," (estimate $250,000 to $350,000), an outstanding figure from the Collection of Robert H. Ellsworth that once contained relics of the sitting mat of Atisha himself, which makes this an important historical document.  Lot 804 sold for $242,500.

Gilt bnoze figure of Atisha

Lot 804, "A Large and Important Gilt Bronze Figure of Atisha," Tibet, circa 16th century, 19 inches high, from the Robert H. Ellsworth Collection

According to Christie's catalog the Indian master Atisha came to Tibet in 1042 at the invitation of the Western Tibetan Kings Yese and Jangchup, to renew the practice and teaching of Buddhism. In 1045 he bacame the spiritual founder of the Kadam Order in central Tibet , and his twelve years there left a profound impact on all orders of Buddhism. While the sitting mat and relics "of so many who were taught directly by that Lord himelf (Atisha)" are gone......"here is the sacred statue, blazing with the light and energy of blessings of many wise sages and adepts of India and Tibet!" (Courtesy Christie's Catalog for this sale).

"Set of seven Thangkas of the Great Fift Dalai Lama and his Lineage

Shown behind Lot 804, above, is Lot 811, "A Highly Important Set of Seven Thangkas of the Great Fifth Dalai Lama and His Lineage," Tibet, circa 1815, each 27 1/2 x 16 1/4 inches excluding borders

Five of the "Highly Important Set of Seven Thangkas of the Great Fifth Dalai Lama and His Lineage," (Lot 811, estimate $250,000 to $350,000), from the collection of Veena and Peter Schnell, are shown behind above, with Lot 804 in the foreground. Beautifully painted and in wonderful condition, the central thangka depicts the Great Fifth Dalai Lama, flanked by three thangkas on either side that display his lineage, each identified with gold inscriptions. Lot 811 sold for $566,500.

Christie's specialist Sandhya Jain-Pael with central Thangka of the Great Fifth Dalai Lama

Christies Specialist, Indian and Southeast Asian Art, Sandhya Jain-Patel with the central thangka depicting the Great Fifth Dalai Lama

The reverse of the central thangka was shown to us by Christie's Specialist, Indian and Southeast Asian Art, Sandhya Jain-Patel, revealing seals and hand prints that are also imprinted on the others. A close-up of the central thangka, with Ms. Jain Patel, is illustrated below, and gives some idea of the stunning quality of the painting, and the exquisite detail of the natural motifs and animals.

Red sandstone figure of a Yahski

Lot 829, "A Red Sandstone Figure of a Yakshi," India, Madhya Pradesh, Chandela Period, 12th Century, 35 1/2 inches high

Positioned beneath a tree laden with mangoes is "A Red Sandstone Figure of a Yakshi," (Lot 828, estimate $150,000 to $200,000), from the 12th century, Madhya Pradesh, in the form of a "mother and child" Yakshi, and mum is applying kohl to her infant's eyes. According to the 11th century Orissan text, "The Shilpa Prakasha," or "Light on Art," temple walls had to be decorated with yakshis to ensure the fruitfullness of the temple. Sixteen types of women fit the requirements of a yakshi, including the timeless duo of mother and child. This winsome, ancient work of art resonates with the spirit of the land in which it was created. Lot 828 sold for $182,500.

"Krishna Dancing on the Snake King"

Lot 857, "A Painting of Krishna Dancing On the Snake King," India, Kangra, 1780-1800, opaque watercolor and gold on wasli, 7 1/8 by 5 1/8 inches

"A Painting of Krishna Dancing On the Snake King," from India, Kangra Period, circa 1790-1800 is an unusual Indian Miniature rendered in gray, black and yellow. While the snakes are a little unnerving, this exquisitely painted composition is strikingly modern, a real connoisseur's piece (Lot 857, estimate $12,000 to $15,000). Lot 857 sold for $16,250. Strong drawing shows through in another Indian Miniature, Lot 879, "A Painting of an Elephant," from Rajasthan, with an estimate of $20,000 to $25,000.  It failed to sell.


Painting of an Elephant

Lot 879, "A Painting of an Elephant," India, Rajashtan, Sawar, circa 1710, pen, ink and opaque pigments on paper, 11 1/4 x14 5/8 inches, image

Not illustrated here are ten impressive 18th century Indian line drawings from the collection of Paul F. Walter, notably Lot 838, "A Portrait of Two Archers," from Rajasthan (estimate $1500-2000) and Lot 844, "An Architectural Plan and Elevation," India, Bikaner, depiciting a plan for an exotic octagonal pavilion (estimate $800-1,200).  Lot 838  sold for $2,000.  Lot 844  sold for $938.

Japanese and Korean Art


Japanese tea ceremony at press preview

A Japanese Tea Ceremony in Christies Galleries Using Utensils from the Sale. In the background is a hanging scroll, lot 1025, " Ugo seizan ao utata aoshi (The blue mountain looks more blue after rain)," by Gyokushu Soban, 1600-1668), ink on paper, 54 3/8 11 3/8 inches; below it is Lot 1023, "An O-Meibutsu Stoneware Tea-Leaf Storage Jar Named Chigusa (Myriad of Flowers)," China, Southern Song/Yuan Dynasty, (13t-14th century)

A serene tea ceremony utilizing tea bowls and equipment included in Christie's sale of Japanese Art is both relaxing - certaintly after negotiating the crowds in Rockefeller Center - and an eye-opener of just how precise each step in this important ritual is, before even a sip of tea is consumed. Christies gallery setting was peaceful, sound proofed, and time took on a different dimension despite large TV cameras and energetic photographers. This sale includes a large number of reasonably priced lacquered earthenware tea bowls, and utensils in various materials, including Lot 1023, "An O-Meibutsu Stoneware Tea-Leaf Storage Jar Named Chingusa (Myriad of Flowers)," made in China, (estimate $100,000 to $150,000). A beautiful hanging scroll, illustrated above, (Lot 1025, estimate $3,000 to $4,000), helps set the scene. It was painted by Gyokushu Soban, who was the 185th abbot of Daitokuji Temple in Kyoto. (1600-1668).  Lot 1023 sold for $662,500.  Lot 1025 sold for $17,500.

Katsura Yamaguchi of Christie's holding bronze figure of Mahavairocana

Katsura Yamaguchi, Christie's Senior Director, Japanes and Korean Art, with Lot 1052, "A Bronze Figure of Mahavairocana (Dainichi Nyorai)," Nanbokucho Period, Dated 1334

Katsura Yamaguchi, Christies Senior Director, Japanese and Korean Art, showed an inscription on the reverse of Lot 1052, "A Bronze Figure of Mahavairocana (Dainichi Nyorai)," stating it was commissioned by Nitta Yoshisada in 1301-1338. This bronze was once owned by Prince Higashikuni Naruhiko (1887-1990), Prime Minister of Japan (17 August-9 October 1945). It has an estimate of $120,000 to $180,000.   It failed to sell.

In contrast, "A Porcelain Figure of a Dandy (Wakashu)," exudes humor and playfulness, and is exquisitely crafted and painted. It is hard to imagine men attired in full length kimono's embroidered with clusters of flowers, but dandies marched to their own drummer. This marvellous figure, illustrated below, is from the Edo Period (1670-90), and has an estimate of $120,000 to $150,000. 

Porcelain figure of a dandy

Lot 1015, "A Porcelain Figure of a Dandy (Wakashu)," Arita Ware, Kakiemon Style, Edo Period, 1670-90

Lot 1015 is a very colorful arita ware figure of a dandy (wakashu) in the Kakiemon Style from the Edo Period, 1670-1690.   It failed to sell.

Wood figure of Wisdom King Fudo Myoo

Lot 1051, "A Wood Figure of the Wisdom King Fudo Myoo," Kamakura Period (14th Century),7 1/8 inches

Fudo Mido, illustrated above, is one of the Five Widsom Kings (Myoo), of Esoteric Japanese Buddhism, depicted here in his manifestation as a wrathful deity. His fierceness is intended to protect believers against evil, so he holds a sword, and bares his fangs. Lot 1051 has an estimate of $80,000 to $120,000.  It failed to sell.

Wood figure of the Divine General Anila

Lot 1056, wood figure of the Divine General Anila Taisho, Muromachi Period (14th/15th Century), 15 3/8 inches high

The cover illustration of this acution is 1056, a fine wood figure of the Divine General Anila Taisho.  It dates to the Muromachi Period (14th/15th Century) and is 15 3.8 inches high.  It has an estimate of $40,000 to $50,000. It sold for $43,750.

"Lacquer picnic set, Edo Period

Lot 1004, "A Lacquer Picnic Set (Sage-Jubako)," Edo Period (Early 18th Century, Flasks Stamped Yuya Hisaemon

Illustrated below is Lot 1004, "A Lacquer Picnic Set (Sage-Jubako)," a picnic lover's dream. Aside from its superb aesthetic qualities, this picnic set has four food containers, an upper rectangular drawer container, a square movable tray and a lower container cut with two circles to support the base of two pewter sake flasks - forget the plastic cup holder. All this is packed into a streamlined 11 7/8 by 12 1/4 inches, and priced at $1,000 $1,500. It sold for $6,875.

Not illustrated here is Lot 1118, "Landscapes," a pair of delicately painted (ink on silk) Korean hanging scrolls of outstanding beauty, with an estimate of $150,000-200,000. It failed to sell.

"Three Women" by Sookenn

Lot 1158, "Three Women," by Park Sookeun, 1961, oil and mixed media on board, 6 1/8 x 10 inches

A favorite is Lot 1158, minutely scaled "Three Women," by Park Sookeun (1916-1964), whose entire body of similarly small scaled work totaled around 400 paintings. Their simplicity and humility is disarming and imbued with poetry. Christie's Specialist Heakyum Kim said his work was appreciated and purchased by Americans stationed in Seoul during the 60s, and sold for as little as $6. Not any longer, as the estimate of this painting shows ($350,000 $400,000). Sookeun is now the most sought-after Korean modern master, and Christie's has sold 19 of his paintings since 1993. It sold for $410,500.

"ENS 809" by Tschangeul

Lot 1148, "ENS 809, by Kim Tschangeul, 1980, oil on canvas, 38 3/4 by 23 1/4 inches

The water droplets in Kim Tschangyeul's "ENS 809," painted in 1980, are literally jaw dropping, especially as they are painted in oil. Tschangyeul has exhibited widely at important museums and galleries, including a one-man show at The Jeu de Paume in Paris in 2004. Lot 1148 has an estimate of $25,000 to $30,000. It sold for $40,000.

Kim Tshangeul (b. 1929) discovered his favored motif of water droplets in 1970.  He was born in Seaoul and studied at the College of Fine Arts at the Seoul National University and also at the Art Students League in New York and he moved to Paris in 1969.  "ENS 809" is an oil on canvas that measures 28 3/4 by 23 3/4 inches and was executed in 1980. 


Rockefeller Center Plaza

Rockefeller Center, with flags of all nations flying in the wind


    ©The City Review and Michele Leight, 2009

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