Lush 'Asia Week' Starts in Shadow of Tragedy

Given the earthquake in Japan, this is perhaps not the ideal week for the city’s art dealers and auction houses to be showcasing a raft of spectacular Asian art treasures. But ‘Asia Week,’ probably the city’s largest and lushest version of the annual event ever, begins today, March 18.

Asia Week, despite its name, is normally a 10-day period in March when about three dozen Asian art galleries and the city’s museums hold open houses and host blockbuster special exhibitions. At the same time, the auction houses put millions of dollar of property from China, Japan, Korea, Tibet and Southeast Asia on the block, and schedule cocktail receptions and lectures around those sales.

The festivities are going forth as usual this weekend, but some (frankly, not many) of the events now salute or raise funds for the earthquake victims in Japan. The Japan Society, which opened a major exhibition of Japanese contemporary pop art earlier this week, “Bye Bye Kitty!,” will donate half of all ticket receipts for the next four months to an earthquake relief fund. It’s also hosting a 12-hour fundraiser April 9 (more info at www.japansociety.org). Veteran Madison Avenue dealer Ronin Gallery, which probably has the city’s largest inventory of Japanese prints, was one of the first galleries to pledge a portion of sales proceeds to earthquake relief. Chelsea’s Hasted Kraeutler Gallery is donating 100% of the profits from a special edition of Untitled (Cherry Blossoms), 2010 by artist Andreas Gefeller to the American Red Cross, plus 5% of all its print profits for the next two months, the gallery said. And there’s another fundraiser Sunday, March 27, at Columbia University’s Miller Theater. Sonic Youth, artist and musician Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon and Cibo Matto, among others will perform, will 100% of proceeds going to earthquake relief efforts.

For a look at what’s on view at the galleries and auctioneers, check out our slideshow.

Lush 'Asia Week' Starts in Shadow of Tragedy