NEW YORK.- The last auction of Christies Asian Art Week, Japanese and Korean Art takes place on September 18. Following last seasons record-breaking sale, the Fall auction again presents a wellbalanced selection of Japanese and Korean works of art, offering exceptional paintings, traditional hanging scrolls, ceramics, and sculpture. The sale is expected to realize in excess of $7 million.
One of the most revered names in Japanese print-making, Kitagawa Utamaro, is featured with Mono omou koi (Reflective Love) (estimate: $1,000,000-1,500,000). With very few of Utamaros prints still in excellent condition, this work will offer an opportunity to see and own one of the masterss most sought-after works. This superb example illustrates a woman resting her head on her hand, lost in a daydream on a backdrop of luminous pink mica. This particular print comes from a series of five entitled Kasen koi no bu (Anthology of Poems: The Love Section), circa 1793-1794.
The sale boasts a fine selection in screens and scrolls. Among the highlights is a 17th century pair of six-panel screens, In and around the capital (Rakuchu rakugai), by an anonymous artist (estimate: $800,000-1,200,000). The screens depict panoramic views of Kyoto, filled with endlessly fascinating details of the city. The lavish use of gold, high-quality pigments indicate that the screen was a special commission of the highest order. A splendid hanging scroll Hawk on a blossoming plum branch, by Ito Jakuchu (1716-1800) (estimate: $300,000-400,000), is a well-known silk painting that has been thoroughly published and exhibited. Hawks are traditionally a symbol of power and the elite of Japan; however, scholars noted Jakuchus hawk might symbol the lonely and isolated. An important handscroll transcribed by Jokan (16th century) is also included illustrating Kahiden: Monami kadensho (Secret text of Rikka flower decoration created by Monami) (estimate: $100,000-150,000). This colorful silk scroll is a type of manual for displaying art and flower arrangements for guests on formal occasions.
The Korean section of the sale shines with a superb group of ceramics. The highlight of this group is a white porcelain square bottle of the Choson period (19th century) (estimate: $350,000-400,000). The very attractive and well-proportioned bottle has an overall transparent glaze, making it delicate and precious in appearance. Also of the Chosun period is a blue and white square porcelain bottle (estimate: $250,000-300,000). This bottle is beautifully painted with four different scenes on each side: two scholars on a tree-lined shore, a bamboo and plum, a pavilion on a rocky terrain with a boat below, and bamboo interspersed with a branch of a flowering plum.
Park Sookeun, Koreas most famous modern artist, will be represented in the sale with Figures in a landscape (estimate: $400,000-500,000) painted in 1964. Often only consisting of a few lines or shapes, some more geometric, some more figurative, his paintings have a charm all of their own. Modest in size, the roughly textured painting depicts a mother and son and two women in traditional Korean clothing returning home from a market.
Following the world auction record Christies set last season for Kim Whanki, this sale again offers one of his paintings: Untitled, an abstract of geometric and spherical shapes (estimate: $30,000-50,000). Whanki has become a pillar of Korean modern masters by using his unique blend of Eastern and Western influences. The sale will also include an attractive painting of Lilacs in a white vase by To Sang-Bong (estimate: $30,000-40,000). He was one of the most figurative painters in Korea and well known for still-life of flowers and white porcelain jars.
Contemporary Korean art has experienced rapidly increasing prices and a wide appeal with young collectors over the past years. The sale offers a good selection including Kang Ik-Joongs Happy Buddha, a colorful mixed media on wood executed in 2007 (estimate: $20,000-30,000) and Untitled (Tea Bowls), an oil on canvas, by Hoon Kwak (estimate: $40,000-50,000).