It’s time once again for the International Asian Art Fair at the Seventh Regiment Armory on Park Avenue at 67th Street.
I visited this fair for the first time last year, and I was overwhelmed by the quality and diversity of the works on hand, often quite different from the collections of Asian art in most museums I’ve visited.
There were unusual Korean screen paintings and even a Korean celadon sculpture, which is quite rare, as well as excellent material of all kinds from across Asia. The highlight of the show for me was an extensive collection of exquisite Graeco-Bactrian Gandhāran Buddhist sculptures that straddle the line between East and West, clearly demonstrating the Greek origins of the most common Buddhist iconography.
Almost as interesting as the art itself was experiencing the art in its context as merchandise and investment. In museums, the cost and commerce is almost always obscured. Plaques give historical data and perhaps mention the owner or donor, but they don’t go into the provinence or mention that the market for Tang-dynasty sculpture is heating up. To get a sense of how art moves around the world, you can do worse than spend an afternoon eavesdropping among the masterworks at the Asian Art Fair.
The Fair runs from Friday March 31 through Wednesday April 5, and it’s open daily from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $18 and well worth it.