I'm a writer, publishing both as SJ Rozan and, with Carlos Dews, as Sam Cabot. (I'm Sam, he's Cabot.) Here you can find links to my almost-daily blog posts, including the Saturday haiku I've been doing for years. BUT the blog itself has moved to my website. If you go on over there you can subscribe and you'll never miss a post. (Miss a post! A scary thought!) Also, I'll be teaching a writing workshop in Italy this summer -- come join us!
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2012-03-20 11:41 AM
When worlds collide
Oh, the life I live. Spent last Friday at Christie's, last Sunday afternoon in and out of galleries, and most of Monday at Sotheby's, making like a swell and viewing the vast amounts of Asian art and antiquities on offer during Asia Week here in NYC. Asia Week runs for, um, two weeks in the spring and is the time when all the museums with Asian collections, all the auction houses, and all the galleries with Asian wares get together, along with the three-day Arts of Pacific Asia Show, and lectures and parties, to celebrate and sell Asian art. (If you read GHOST HERO you already know this... I'm just sayin'.) I, of course, can afford to buy nothing, and anyway I don't collect. But I love to learn, and I love this art -- porcelains and ceramics, scroll paintings, prints and screens, especially. So I go dressed well enough to pass for an art advisor to the Getty heir you never heard of because he's a studious nerd and does nothing but collect Asian art. The biggest thrill is being able to handle the goods at the auction houses. This stuff is museum-quality; some of the buyers, in fact, are either museums, or collectors intending to donate to museums. Once they get into museums they'll be behind glass, but in the pre-auction sales they want and expect you to examine them closely, in hopes that you'll be moved to buy.
Christie's, for those who wonder, is a much more cordial and inviting place than Sotheby's. At Sotheby's you have to show ID to get in, though it's not like you need to be invited and they don't turn anyone away. They're selling the absolutely top-on-the-budget works, the scrolls, paintings and plates that are expected to go for $750,000 to $2,000,000. Christie's tops out at about $750,000 -- remember, these are auction estimates; the actual selling price sometimes surprises by being much higher or lower (though if it's too much lower the item is often withdrawn by the seller). When prices get super high, though, it usually has more to do with something in the history of the piece than the piece itself. Rarity, or provenance. There's a vast amount of beauty to be seen at the, um, lower price points, and the viewing assistants at Christie's are not nearly as snooty as the one's at Sotheby's. They love to show work and to talk about it, too.
So here are just a couple of photos. You're invited to take pictures, to send to the Getty heir you're advising, but I didn't have the camera -- I know, I know -- but I did have my new iPhone. And I must say, it acquitted itself rather well.
And why the title of today's blog? Stay tuned to hear how I spent the rest of my weekend.
Bed at Christie's painted entryway
Japanese screen detail
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