At this summer’s international auction at Bruun Rasmussen in Copenhagen, we are putting together the largest and most varied selection of contemporary Asian art ever entrusted to us to sell, including names such as Fang Lijun, Chen Wenling and Takashi Murakami. The majority of the works are from a private Danish collection and were acquired on the international art market during the past 10–15 years.
“The selection is characterised by great curiosity and desire for visual challenges in relation to new art, especially from China, which underwent major social changes in the 1990s and saw the emergence of a market economy with an associated diverse art scene. The works reflect contemporary society and history from both personal and more general perspectives, while making connections between traditional East Asian aesthetics and the diverse range of styles of international modernism – perhaps especially Neo-Realism and Pop Art. The term ‘Cynical Realism’ is used about Chinese art of this period, which often takes a humorous and ironic look at the challenges and shadowy aspects of society’s development from communism, towards rising individualisation, industrialisation and commercialism,” according to Niels Boe-Hauggaard, specialist in art from the 20th and 21st centuries at Bruun Rasmussen.
Among the main works up for auction, the painting “No. 4” (2008) by Fang Lijun (b. Handan, China, 1963), which is estimated at DKK 2 million (€ 270,000), deserves to be highlighted here. The painting is a work of sophisticated ambiguity. At first glance, the composition appears delicate, poetic, sensuous and dreamlike. Colourful butterflies hover gently above the composition. On closer inspection, though, it becomes apparent that the golden, flowing structures surrounding the figure in the painting are in fact ropes, and that the butterflies are accompanied by stinging insects. Is the person moving up towards the light or being pulled down?
The bronze sculpture “China Today” (2006) by Chen Wenling (b. Quanzhou, China, 1969) is another of the auction’s main features. Wenling’s works are often grotesque depictions of people, exposing the shadier sides of human nature and morality. Perhaps the best-known name in Cynical Realism, Yue Minjun (b. Heilongjiang, China, 1962), is represented by a series of double lithographs, “Smile-isms” (2006), in which the artist’s distinctive smiling portraits are contrasted with canonical works from art history and pop culture images, as well as traditional quotations about smiling.
With the work “Miss Ko2 – Devil Position 1” (2004) by Takashi Murakami (b. Tokyo, Japan, 1962), we leave China and present for the first time in Denmark an impressive work by Japan’s biggest name in pop art, with a sumptuous visual juxtaposition of Japanese pop aesthetics and Western ideals of beauty in a style that is at once hyper-sexualised and emphatically artificial.
The auction also includes works by artists such as Yang Shaobin (b. Tangshan, China, 1963), He Sen (b. Yunnan, China, 1968), Feng Zhenjie (b. Sichuan, China, 1968), Chen Wenbo (b. Sichuan, China, 1969), Cao Xiaodong (b. Jiangsu, China, 1961), Liu Chunhai (b. Harbin, China, 1966), Wu Tianzheng (b. Taiwan, 1956), Shiho Aeoshima (b. Tokyo, Japan, 1974), Fang Hui (b. Shenyang, China, 1965), Haris Purnomo (b. Indonesia, 1956), Mi Ju (b. South Korea, 1983), and Lu Song (b. Beijing, China, 1982).
Preview and Auction in Copenhagen
All of the works up for auction can be seen at the preview at Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers, Bredgade 33, Copenhagen, from 24 - 28 May. The auction itself will be held at the same address on 6 - 7 June.
Exhibition in London
Prior to the auction, selected artwork will be exhibited at The Danish Embassy, 55 Sloane, St. Knightsbridge in London from 15 - 16 May. In connection with this exhibition, it will be possible to meet our Head of Modern Art, Niels Raben, who will be available for interviews with the international press.
Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers is one of Scandinavia’s leading international auction houses, and one of Denmark’s oldest. It all started on 6 October 1948, when Arne Bruun Rasmussen conducted the first traditional auction in the saleroom at Bredgade 33 in Copenhagen. Today, Jesper Bruun Rasmussen stands at the helm of the family-run business together with the third generation of the family, his son Frederik and daughter Alexa, and the company’s CEO Jakob Dupont.
In 2004, the first online auction was launched, and today the auction house has expanded to include departments in Copenhagen and Aarhus and representations in Sweden, Germany, England, France, Belgium, Luxemburg, Spain, Italy, Thailand and the US. About 100,000 lots are put up for auction each year at the traditional auctions and daily online auctions. Here you can bid on everything from art, antiques, modern design and jewellery to books, coins, stamps, wine and weaponry.