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2 August 2012  |  Asian Art   |  Article

Introduction to Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art

Christie’s Hong Kong has redefined Asian modern and contemporary art. As the first auction house to combine Japanese, Korean, Indian, Chinese and Southeast Asian art, Christie’s endeavors to bring together artwork from all of these regions into a single integrated platform in Hong Kong, reaching to an active international community that increasingly buys across national divides.

Chinese Art
Each season, Christie’s curates Chinese art from the 20th century to the present day, building a coherent landscape of Chinese modern and contemporary art history. Our sales cover a full century of modernism and innovation in China, beginning with the first generation of modern masters, such as Lin Fengmian, Wu Dayu and Sanyu, as well as their successors—Zao Wou-ki, Chu Teh-Chun and Wu Guanzhong.  Together they advanced the achievements of Chinese modern art to an unprecedented level which has been widely appreciated across cultures.

While Chinese modernists primarily addressed the conflicts and fusions between the old and new, East and West, contemporary art in China since the 1980s has evolved into a diverse and complex scene. Forged under the ideals of communism, the distinctive cultural and social transformations have significantly influenced this avant-garde art movement and have prompted its exploration of multi-media and diverse modes of engagement. The artistic and allegorical commentary on self-identity, merged with the burgeoning demands of modern conformity, distinguishes Zeng Fanzhi, Zhang Xiaogang, Yue Minjun and Fang Lijun as among the most powerfully iconic artists of this generation.

Japanese Art
While contemporary Japanese art is stereotypically thought of as whimsical, fantasy-laden and commerce-driven pop art, this misperception ignores the aesthetic refinement, historical reflection, and laborious craft lying behind much of Japan’s contemporary art and artists’ ironic consideration of Japan’s technological revolutions. As a country steeped in rich cultural and religious heritage, artistic traditions such as lacquer work or woodblock prints have not been clouded by the digital era. Rather, the past recurs in contemporary artists’ creative expressions through technique, subject, or aesthetic. Japan’s contributions to Asian 20th century and contemporary art should be seen as an extensive re-interpretation of Japan’s sophisticated aesthetic traditions and cultural heritage through the experience of the 20th and 21st Centuries.

Korean Art
Korean contemporary artists’ brilliance in creating unique styles is evident in their diverse range of media and their dedication to innovative and meticulous techniques. This rigorous pursuit of innovation in concept and expression established Korea one of the most exciting contemporary art scenes in Asia. Throughout, Korean cultural traditions are honored, revisited, and redefined in new modern and contemporary forms, underscoring traditional philosophies and aesthetics, reflecting contemporary views on Korean society today in the flux of globalization.

Southeast Asian Art
Modern art in the Southeast Asian region blossomed with the development of art academies in colonial Southeast Asia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. As such, Southeast Asian art has always embodied cultural exchanges and the localization of modernity, as well as the propagation of traditions well into the contemporary era. Each season, Christie's is pleased to showcase the art history of this region, especially in our pioneering pan-Asian art sales in Hong Kong where the uniqueness of Southeast Asian art is brought to light. From the tropical Impressionism of Adrien-Jean Le Mayeur de Merprès to the avant-garde interpretations of expressionism and Chinese ink aesthetics by Affandi and Lee Man Fong, as well as romantic articulations on local life and landscape by Fernando Amorsolo, Cheong Soo Pieng and Nguyen Gia Tri, the multi-faceted story of Asian modernity is illustrated by masterpieces of Southeast Asian 20th century art.

Contemporary Southeast Asian art is one of the most keenly watched emerging markets today. In particular, the generation of artists born in the early 1970s - Ronald Ventura, Nyoman Masriadi, Geraldine Javier, Christine Ay Tjoe and others - have captured the attention of a rapidly expanding Asian and international collecting base. As an industry leader, Christie's is committed to bringing the very best works of these contemporary artists to auction, now and in the future, as the artists and the market evolve in tandem.

Related Departments
Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art
Japanese Art
Korean Art
Modern & Contemporary Indian Art
Southeast Asian Modern & Contemporary Art

Related Artists
Leonard Tsuguharu Foujita
Hyung Koo Kang
Whan-ki Kim
Lee Man Fong
Yoshitomo Nara
Ronald Ventura
Fanzhi Zeng

All - Paintings, Prints, Drawings & Watercolors
Leonard Tsuguharu Foujita
Hyung Koo Kang
Whan-ki Kim
Lee Man Fong
Yoshitomo Nara
Ronald Ventura
Fanzhi Zeng
20th Century

Lot 2011, Sale 2905
SANYU (CHANG YU, Chinese, 1901-1966)
Blue Chrysanthemums in a Glass Vase
Price Realized: HK$47,700,000

Lot 156, Sale 2602
ZENG FANZHI (Born in 1964)
Mask Series 1996 No. 6
Price Realized: HK$75,367,500

Lot 2041, Sale 2905
YOSHITOMO NARA (Japanese, B. 1959)
Berlin Barack, Room 1; Hothouse Doll; & Three Sisters (Berlin version)
Price Realized: HK$11,300,000

Lot 471, Sale 2382
KANG HYUNG KOO (Born in 1954, Korean)
Vincent Van Gogh in Blue
Price Realized: HK$4,567,500

Lot 2023, Sale 2905
LEE MAN FONG (Indonesian, 1913-1988)
Fifteen Goldfish
Price Realized: HK$12,980,000