Archive | Chinese

Bodhisattva Final copy

The Power of Images: A Bodhisattva

People coming into the gallery often comment on the feeling they get from the Buddhist sculptures, and in fact that was the purpose of this art. This brings us to a paradox of Buddhist images, for originally Buddhism was aniconic, focused on the disciplines of meditation and release from the material world. How were these images explained in Buddhism, and what role did they serve? These are the questions we ask in this video, which will be one of a series. We pull in pop culture references to help illustrate the power that these images are meant to contain.

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Story of a Kuanyin statuette

detail of photo taken by Susan B. Anthony last year with the Kuanyin to the far right. This is a tale of the art world and how some dealers operate and what can happen. It also illustrates the arbitrary nature of prices and how hard it is to place value on these objects, whose artistic quality and historic significance makes them truly priceless. About a year ago, or so, I was in my colleagues place and on a counter top full of objects from all sorts of cultures and times, was a small intense dark stone sculpture of a Bodhisattva, of the most amazing quality.  Upon looking at it, and seeing the incredible detail of its carving I had to have it and after a reverse negotiation, i.e., I offered what I thought was a high price, higher than I had been accustomed to paying, my colleague agreed to sell it to me.  He loved the piece as well and said that if I ever needed cash, he’d happily buy it back from me.  I […]

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Stela re-appears in Paris

Limestone Stela of a Buddha, China, Eastern Wei 534 – 550 A.D. This stela was in a Stotheby’s New York sale titled, “Images of Enlightenment: Devotional works of Art & Paintings”, held September 16, 2015, lot 422.  It failed to sell, which was shocking to me as I posted here: http://tomswope.com/the-power-of-negativity/ It has reappeared on the market however. I was just in Paris, for a tribal and Asian art fair held in early September the Parcours des Mondes, Paris.  One of the best dealers in Asian art in Paris, participated in the fair, Jacques Barrere, who was featuring some very good early Chinese Buddhist sculptures. Later that same week, his gallery was also exhibiting in the huge Paris Biennale . The star of his offering at the Biennale was the same stela that failed to sell at Sotheby’s.   Sources who were at the Sotheby’s sale in New York where the stela had failed to sell, told me that the Chinese dealers were telling anyone who was willing to listen that the sculptures in the […]

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A Sui Dynasty Buddha Head

Head of a Buddha, China, late 6th Century A.D. 3/4 side view of the head above Side view of the head above I just acquired a large head of a Buddha, and wanted to share with my readers how I looked at it and came up the with dating through comparisons to established parallels. Pictured above, it is a life sized head at 12 1/2 inches high, carved of a dark grey limestone shot through with white veins, and retains traces of its original gold leaf and some paint, particularly the red on the lips.  It has a great archeological surface that has not been over cleaned. While at first glance it looks like all the other Buddha heads that one sees, this has certain stylistic features that help to date it rather precisely.  Let us start with the ushnisha, the cranial lump that is a mark of the Buddha. Here the ushnisha is distinctly marked as a separate cranial node but it is a low and wide unlike the high narrow high ushnisha seen […]

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Asia Week 2016

I wish I could do one of my posts on highlights seen during Asia Week, but this year the event has been destroyed by the actions of the US government misguided war on culture. I came to go to Asia Week to see the different exhibitions on Wednesday, and one of my first stops was to Gallery Vallois at 67th and Madison, where Dalton Somare was exhibiting.  He is a dealer I featured last year because of the extraordinary pieces he showed. This year, I found the doors shut and locked and we were not allowed in, the owner answered the door to say they were rearranging and to come back another day. I at first thought it a thin pretext to keep people away while he had an important client in and I thought it was rude and strange behavior for a public event such as Asia Week. Only at the end of the day did I learn that instead, the gallery had been raided by US marshals who confiscated a major sculpture they […]

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The power of negativity!

This past week was Asia Week at Sotheby’s New York and Christie’s.  The Sotheby’s sale had some exceptional and very good early Chinese Buddhist sculpture, Christie’s had almost nothing of that type.  The estimates at Sotheby’s were very high, I thought overly ambitious, but I was hopeful. Perhaps Sotheby’s was hoping to recreate the excitement and high prices generated by the Robert Ellsworth auction earlier in March of this year: http://tomswope.com/amazing-results-the-robert-ellsworth-sale-at-christies-march-2015/. The early Chinese Buddhist sculpture in the Ellsworth sale sold exceptionally well, going way over the conservatively low, but realistic estimates.  However, as I would like to see the field progress, I was hoping the high expectations at Sotheby’s would be realized.  I was unable to attend the sale in person, so followed it live online, as now anyone with an internet connection can.  It was a shocking experience, not a single one of the early Chinese Buddhist sculptures sold.  Below are the top three pieces: lot 422, Sotheby’s 16 September 2015 sale  The stela above has a single Buddha standing with a flame […]

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