As has often been reported, Asian art is the next big thing. Except, it's been a big thing for a century now
As has often been reported, Asian art is the next big thing. Except, it's been a big thing for a century now, with Asian art auctions in London drawing in collectors of fine porcelain, ink paintings and historic knick-knacks, and Asian Art in London established for over a decade. (This year's is 3-12 November,) Christie's carve out their own few days during this period too for their Asian Art Week (8-11 November).
There is, naturally, a fabulous gala on 8 November at the Victoria and Albert Museum, as well as the marquee auctions at Christie's King Street (Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art; Important Rhinoceros Horn and Jade Carvings From a Distinguished European Collection) and South Kensington (Asian Interiors Japanese Art & Design Chinese Ceramics, Works of Art & Textiles).
This year's Asian Art in London (3-12 November) does not just feature London dealers for the first time, but includes Art of the Past from New York; Alexis Renard and Christophe Hioco both from Paris; Carlo Cristi from Italy and Carlos Cruañas from Barcelona, all of whom will be set up in central London galleries for the duration. Find a complete list of galleries and auction houses taking part in Asian Art Week here.
The beauty of Asian Art in London is its capacious view of the field: from 5,000-year old sculptures to Contemporary pieces, via ceramics, furniture, glass, jade, jewellery, manuscripts, metalwork, paintings, screens, stone carvings and textiles. The entire Far East is covered too: India, China, Japan, Korea, the Himalayas.
Christie's has had a fine record in selling Asian art: their May 2011 sale took £27.7 million for the week, with plenty of £1 million-plus pieces. Jade and rhino horn (antique, not new, obviously) are rare materials which have been used for special sculptures. See examples from Christie's sale here.
A rare and finely-carved rhinoceros horn 'Hundred Boys' stemcup (estimate £300-500,000)
Spear's has been an enthusiastic reporter of the trends in Asian art. Josh Spero visited the Hong Kong Art Fair, where he saw local collectors swoon over local Contemporary artists, while Anthony Haden-Guest spoke to Michael Goehuis, who is exhibiting during Asian Art in London, about the rocketing prices of Chinese art: it started in 2004 'because of recognition that China was becoming a big deal in the world, and that Chinese art was actually pretty interesting'.
As much as Asian art has become integrated into the normal Western market – who can forget the global defence of Ai Weiwei? – it still deserves a week of its own, where it can unhurriedly breathe and where its collectors can see the very best works.