Although the Asian art market has been grabbing headlines in recent years for attaining one record price after another, many parts of that market are still undervalued, says Lark Mason, chairman of Asia Week New York, which runs from March 10 to 19. “Although there is a superabundance of exquisite objects on the market, the focus by the press is invariably on the high end, leaving many less expensive works under-publicized,” he says, adding, “For the beginning collector, now is one of the best times ever to acquire gorgeous artworks at very attractive prices.”
Within the red-hot Chinese art market, there are categories that offer favorable openings for an astute collector. According to Mason, early ceramics are one of the most undervalued areas in the market today, as are the many examples of regional and provincial works in wood and other organic materials. Chinese Export works of art and porcelain, a trade that dominated the international economy for hundreds of years, also offer hard-to-resist opportunities.
Martha Sutherland of M. Sutherland points to another underappreciated aspect of Chinese Art. “Album leaves are a savvy way to collect more affordable pieces by artists whose larger works are exponentially more costly. One of the artists that I represent, Hsia Ifu, paints highly detailed miniature landscapes on various sizes of album leaves. His brushwork is so intricate that each time you view a piece, you find something new. It’s priced at $5,000. I also have album leaves by the Nanjing artist Hai Tao that are painstakingly executed in the ‘mo gu’ brushwork style, which means ‘no bones,’ a method of building up multiple layers of wash with no discernible outline. It creates fantastic landscape forms, and the work is priced at $4,500.”