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    Modern Art a Standout at Christie’s High-Water Asian Sales

    Asian art sales held at Christie’s Hong Kong, from Nov. 26-30, garnered $210 million, far surpassing last year’s $139 million total (ANL, 1/3/06, p. 8). Works on offer included Asian contemporary art; 20th-century Chinese art; classical Chinese paintings and calligraphy; Imperial Chinese ceramics, from the collection of Robert Chang; Chinese jades, from the collection

    NEW YORK—Asian art sales held at Christie’s Hong Kong, from Nov. 26-30, garnered $210 million, far surpassing last year’s $139 million total (ANL, 1/3/06, p. 8). Works on offer included Asian contemporary art; 20th-century Chinese art; classical Chinese paintings and calligraphy; Imperial Chinese ceramics, from the collection of Robert Chang; Chinese jades, from the collection of Alan and Simone Hartman; modern and contemporary Southeast Asian Art; jewelry; and watches.

    Among these groups, the 20th-century Chinese art sale realized $47.13 million and Asian contemporary art took $20.84 million, accounting for a considerable portion of the total. Describing the total sale of $67.97 million as “a milestone,” Eric Chang, Christie’s senior vice president and international director, added that “numerous world auction record prices were set today, including that for an Asian oil painting, Slave and Lion, by Xu Beihong [1895-1953], that sold for $7 million.” The work dates back to the artist’s stay in Berlin in the early 1920s.

    In the contemporary art category, the painting of a symbolic Chinese landmark, Tiananmen Square, 1993, by Zhang Xiaogang (b. 1958), fell to an Asian collector for $2.34 million—records both for the artist and for a contemporary Chinese painting.

    Records also were set for Yue Minjun (b. 1962) and Zeng Fanzhi (b. 1964). Minjun’s Kites went to a European buyer for $962,000, while Fanzhi’s Mask 1999, No. 3, was picked up by an Asian private buyer for $816,400. The “Mask” series shows contrasting emotions, such as humor and anxiety, in modern urban life and is considered a turning point in the artist’s career.

    Edward Dolman, CEO, Christie’s International, says the firm “looks forward to investing further in the region,” adding that the “record-breaking series of sales showed the growing strength in Asia of the demand for artworks of the highest quality.”

    Of the contemporary art category, which also included Indian and Pakistani artists, specialist Yamini Mehta, head of modern and contemporary Indian Art at Christie’s, comments that the sale “featured new and fresh perspectives on the contemporary art scene of India and Pakistan.” Mehta notes that “buyers for the works were truly international, hailing from Italy, France, China, Southeast Asia, India and the Middle East.”

    Artists in this group included N.S. Harsha (b. 1969), whose acrylic painting Melting Wit fetched $93,600 (estimate: $70,500/98,700); Chintan Upadhyay (b. 1973), whose Mutant, in oil and acrylic on canvas, won $59,280 (estimate: $17,900/25,600); and T.V. Santhosh (b. 1968), whose oil Across an Unresolved Story sold for $43,680 (estimate: $10,300/15,400).