Sep 6, 2010

Appraising Methods

People often ask how I arrive at valuations for their art. To determine a value I draw upon my experience over many years of looking at art similar to the types of materials I am assessing, and also knowledge of the art market for this art. These days the art market is global, thanks to the internet. So valuing art is a complicated business. Some art sells publicly, at auction, other types sell privately through dealers. My 30+ years of studying Asian art provides me with the experience to understand which markets serve as appropriate comparables to the art I am assessing.

I often start by checking the auction market, and to do this I rely on a number of internet sites, some are free, others require payment by subscriptions. I like to look at the websites for large international auction houses where Asian art is regularly sold such as Bonham's, Christie's, and Sotheby's. Also, the main auction houses in China and Japan, and regional houses in Europe and the USA.

I also rely on databases of auction sales results. But among these, I have found no single site sufficient, each seems to specialize in different types of art or includes results from somewhat different worldwide auction houses. I list the ones I use most often for Asian art below, but I caution readers of this blog to realize that when I look at objects on these sites, I do so with greater knowledge than you possess about your materials, and so I am more easily able than you to make judgments regarding the quality of what I see in the sites' little online pictures.

Artron (in Chinese)

Japanese Art Organizations

I'm writing to introduce two non-profit organizations devoted to the study and appreciation of Japanese art.

Anyone interested in the study and collecting of Japanese art is welcome to join. It is worth joining both, as they focus on different aspects of the Japanese art world.

This organization was founded in 1997. It is affiliated with two professional societies in the United States, the College Art Association and the Association for Asian Studies. Membership is open to anyone worldwide with a serious scholarly interest in the study of Japanese art history, visual and material culture, including faculty and graduate students in art history and related fields, museum professionals, independent scholars, and serious collectors. Current membership: ca. 300 persons worldwide.

The organization's mission is to promote the study and understanding of Japanese art history, visual and material culture, by coordinating structured and informal opportunities for interchange and dialogue among members at special exhibitions and symposia of Japanese art and at other scholarly conferences in North America, and by encouraging research and dissemination of research, on our e-mail list-serve, to which members are automatically subscribed when they join our organization, and on the secure, members section of this web site.

In addition to the general information on the visitors side of the JAHF website, the much more extensive secure, password-protected, member section of the group's website contains a wealth of information of particular interest to professionals and students in our fields. Sections include information about individual members, bibliographies, course syllabi, practical professional advice, travel tips, photo acquisition sources, online reference material (including digital image databases and online exhibitions), archives of topical discussions from our email list, an organizational history where we post our annual activities, and official documents pertaining to our group.

The Japanese Art Society of America promotes the study and appreciation of Japanese art. Founded in 1973 as the Ukiyo-e Society of America by collectors of Japanese prints, the Society's mission has expanded to include related fields of Japanese art. Through its annual lectures, seminars and other events, the Society provides a dynamic forum in which members can exchange ideas and experiences with experts about traditional and contemporary arts of Japan.

The Society also sponsors important exhibitions, such as Designed for Pleasure: The World of Edo Japan in Prints and Paintings, 1680–1860, shown at Asia Society in New York City, Spring 2008. The society publishes a quarterly Newsletter for members and an annual journal, Impressions, recipient of the 2009 Donald Keene Prize for the Promotion of Japanese Culture, awarded by the Donald Keene Center, Columbia University.

Sep 5, 2010

Global Partners for Local Organic Food Project Now Over

Our project has now ended. Everyone learned a lot and we all made some new friends. Most important, the participants connected with like-minded individuals and group from across the globe. This project was of personal interest to me because it helped me understand the need for studying the cultural heritage of Japan's rural communities. Visiting Ogawamachi in Saitama prefecture, our partner site, I realized that crafts and historic preservation are being revitalized alongside the community's efforts to create a model sustainable town for Japan. I hope to return one day before long to pursue my study of the area's artistic heritage further. I offer thanks to all who made our journey possible!

New Publications -- Summer 2010

I'm writing to announce two new publications.
One is an article on a little known Japanese Buddhist artist, Kano Kazunobu (1815-1863), whose magnum opus, a grand set of paintings of 500 Takan (Arhats) owned by Tokyo's Zōjōji temple, will be on display for the first time since 1945, in a special exhibition at the Edo-Tokyo Museum in Tokyo, from March 15 to May 29,2011. My article is the first on this artist in English.
"The Savior as Ascetic, Shakyamuni Undergoing Austerities by Kano Kazunobu." Register, Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, (summer 2010): 12-29.

The second publication is major revisions to the Japan chapters of the new (4th) edition of Art History by Marilyn Stokstad and Michael Cothren. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson-Prentice Hall, 2011. I contributed chapter 11: "Japan to 1333" and chapter 25: "Japan After 1333." I worked hard to try to update the chapters and present a balanced view of the main characteristics of Japanese art.

Kasuga mandala, Burke collection
New to chapter 11: new illustrations and discussion of art and architecture at the Great Buddha Hall (Daibutsuden) at Todaiji in “Recovering the Past” box. New discussion of Japan in the eighth century as the eastern terminus of the Silk Route. Increased emphasis on Japan's native religion of Shinto with addition of a Shinto painting. Expanded discussion of Chinese emigrant monks and their influence in section on Zen art.

Eri Sayoko, Dancing with the Cosmos
New to chapter 25: greater emphasis on importance of crafts with addition of porcelain plate, kosode, and contemporary lacquer box. New “Closer Look” highlights techniques used in creation of a kosode robe. Increased discussion of Japan’s integration of foreign, particularly Western, influences in its art and culture. New emphasis on architecture and crafts in the postwar period (with lacquer box by Eri Sayoko). Tea Ceremony discussion consolidated into one section.