Published: April 10, 2007
Arts of Pacific Asia returned to the 69th Regiment Armory at Lexington Avenue and 26th Street, March 22′5. The oldest, largest and biggest of New York’s Asian fairs, the Caskey-Lees event has been a stable performer for the Topanga, Calif., promoters since it debuted in 1995. With exhibitor turnover low, Bill Caskey and Liz Lees have had the luxury of tweaking their fair here and there.
Over the years, they have upped its quality, fine-tuned its presentation, broadened its scope, and redrafted its overall balance. The 93 exhibitors in 82 booths come from 16 states and 16 countries. Moderately priced art and antiques from China, Japan and India dominate. Textiles and sculpture remain two of the strongest categories, cutting across geographic areas. There is only a smattering of contemporary material.
Following the major Asian art auctions early in the week, New York Arts of Pacific Asia opened Wednesday evening, March 20, with a preview for 1,100 people. Attendance through Sunday, March 25, was 12,661, the second highest gate in the show’s history.
Recognizing the power of institutional buyers, Caskey-Less welcomed representatives from most of the country’s leading museums, from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, to the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
The show was also well attended by private buyers from China and India, said show spokesman Walt Borton.
Textiles have long been a mainstay of the fair. Saeed Sadraee of Brussels layered pattern on pattern, counting a set of Nineteenth Century embroidered Chinese silks among his many sales.
Chinalai Tribal Antiques of Shoreham, N.Y., suspended embroidered Long Bei ceremonial dragon covers across the back of its booth. Visitors entered the display through a pair of massive carved wooden Chinese doors.
Sharing a booth with Shirley Day of Brussels, Marcuson & Hall of London featured rare, colorful rugs and decorative textiles, including a Seventeenth Century Macao embroidered spread, $27,000, and a Southwest Persian Qasqa’i Filikli, $22,000, conceived as a series of brilliantly colored concentric rectangles.
Bold textiles with abstract appeal were the order of the day at California dealer Thomas Murray, who counted Sumatran and Balinese pieces among his sales.
Another textiles specialist, Joss Graham of London, sold Indian, Iranian and Indonesian weavings and embroideries.
An imperial assortment of intricately embroidered rank badges and silk court robes lined Atlanta dealer Jon Eric Riis’s stand.
Islamic art is another growing category in the show.
“We sell mainly to museums,” said Sara Kuehn, a specialist in ancient and Islamic works of art. The Brussels dealer appointed her impeccable display with ancient sculpture, silver, gold, jewelry and glass, and late Fourteenth to early Fifteenth Century Timurid tiles.
London dealers Millner Manolatos suggested the library of a well-traveled Englishman in a display housing an assortment of Indian and Islamic art. On offer were Anglo Indian Regency-style rosewood chairs, circa 1830; framed Ottoman embroidery and ceramics; and gouaches of fruit, flowers and butterflies painted in India and China for the Western market.
Next to Millner Manolatos, Galerie Arabesque of Stuttgart, Germany, featured an Eighteenth Century Chinese carpet fragment, $1,800, panels of embroidered silk, and a Japanese Muromachi period carved wood lion, $11,000.
Caskey-Lees enhanced the Tibetan, Himalayan and Nepalese components of the show, as well.
Hardt & Sons evoked a Buddhist temple, arraying dozens of gilt Tibetan and Nepalese Buddhas in its dimly lit display. The California dealers featured a group of Thirteenth to Fourteenth Century stucco Lohans. Chinese for the Tibetan market, they were $380,000.
Carlos Cruanas achieved a similar effect, displaying Nepalese sculptures in bronze and gilt copper against a crimson backdrop. The Barcelona, Spain, dealer parted with a Fifteenth Century bronze altar from Rajasthan and an Eighteenth Century banner painting from Tibet.
First-time exhibitor Robert R. Bigler of Zurich, Switzerland, sold a Thirteenth Century Nepalese Prajnaparamita in gilt copper with semiprecious stones, a Seventeenth Century Nepalese gilt copper Vasudhara, and a Tibetan ornament of circa 1400.
One of the most intriguing stands belonged to Nankai, Tokyo experts in Twelfth through Seventeenth Century Vietnamese porcelain, pottery and bronzes. Nankai’s hand painted underglaze blue pieces were reminiscent of Korean wares.
Disciplined, ascetic ink on paper hanging scrolls and richly glazed stoneware were the order of the day at Bachmann Eckenstein Art & Antiques, Swiss dealers in Japanese art. Their rival in the category of traditional Japanese painting was Oranda Jin, Dutch dealers who sold a ceramic hibachi by Otagaki Rengetsu (1791‱875).
Alan Scott Pate, a Japanese ningyo, or doll, specialist from St Ignatius, Mont., sold an 1882 Ichimatsu-ningyo and a set of three gosho-ningyo, $75,000, in a parody of the “Tale of the Three Kingdoms.”
Nicholas Pitcher, a dealer in Chinese ceramics and works of art from London, wrote up two Tang dynasty terra cotta figures, an Eighteenth Century bowl and saucer, and a melon-shaped black-glazed Song dynasty jar with cream-colored ribbing.
Vallin Galleries of Wilton, Conn., sold a pair of Korean carved granite rams, illustrated in the 2007 show catalog.
A Ming period famille verte landscape vase sold at Cedric Curien, a Marseille, France, dealer in Chinese Export porcelain. The specialty was also represented in depth by Suchow & Seigel of New York.
Known for Indian works of art, London dealer Jeremy Knowles sold sculpture, from a Fourth Century Gandaran stucco head to late Eighteenth Century Mughal architectural elements to Indian paintings.
Both Alex Renard, a first-time exhibitor from Paris, and Astamangala from Amsterdam did well with Indian and Tibetan bronzes.
A colorful loan exhibition paired hand painted paper kaftans by Isabelle de Borchgrave with the historic Suzani and Ikat textiles that inspired them. The antique textiles were from the collection of exhibitor Sadraee of Brussels.
Next on Caskey-Lees’ schedule is the Los Angeles Antiques Show, April 26′9. The organizers return to New York May 19′2 with the International Tribal & Textile Arts Show.
For information, 310-455-2886 or www.caskeylees.com .
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm