2008 International Asian Art Fair – New York, NY

This year’s International Asian Art Fair (March 14 to 20th 2008) was held at 583 Park Avenue in New York City. The fair was born grand 12 years ago, and for a while grew only grander, sailing along as the flagship of Asia Week of sales and auctions in New York, and becoming a gold standard for art fairs in general.

This is the third year Kemin has participated in the International Asian Arts Fair. Below are photos of this year’s booth. Many artists and celebrities like Martha Stewart stopped by to learn and admire the Scholars’ rocks display. The Lingbi Stone in the middle was sold to be displayed at a University Museum in Florida.

More Photos from the Show

How to Judge a Rock – Shou Zhou Lou Tou (SZLT)

Shou Zhou Lou Tou (SZLT)
The great Song literati Mi Fu formed an appreciation of rocks based on his own aesthetics as well as what he knew of past collections. The four categories he considered essential to the appreciation of rocks were shou, zhou, lou, and tou. These four criteria are still used by connoisseurs today, especially for Taihu rocks.

Shou means thin and with respect to rocks, it means an elegant, slender shape, ‘vertically oriented, erect and alone’. (see Figure 1)

Zhou means wrinkles and refers to rich surface textures and furrows created from delicate intaglio lines and relief ridges that show rhythms and changes in shape. Thus a small rock can embody the topographic features of hills and mountains. (see Figure 2) In Hangzhou, the rock known as ‘Wrinkling Cloud Peak’ combines both shou and zhou. (see Figure B)

Lou means channels and other types of indentations that lend an exquisite beauty to rocks. These channels are linked to one another as if a path were unfolding itself through the rock. (see Figure 3)

Tou means holes and openness. Air and moonlight can pass through such openings. (see Figure 4) In Shanghai, the rock known as ‘Exquisite Jade’ combines both lou and tou. (see Figure A)

Figure A – ‘Equisite Jade’          Figure B – ‘Wrinkling Cloud Peak’

Figure 1 Figure 2 Figure 3 Figure 4

How to Judge a Rock – Shape, Material, Color, Spirit

Shape, Material, Color, Spirit

Although Mi Fu’s four categories are well-suited for describing Taihu Rocks, they are not comprehensive enough, and with the appearance of newer gongshi types, modern connoisseurs generally apply another set of criteria for judging rocks. These four are shape (xing), material (zhi), color (se), and spirit (shen).

Shape (xing)

The first consideration for a rock is that it should be naturally shaped. Display rocks can then be divided into two groups: abstract and representational. The former gives more room for the imagination and are admired by many people. But rock lovers also appreciate representational rocks which can be subdivided into those representing landscape and those representing particular objects. Landscape representational rocks resemble hills, scenes after snow, cliffs and peaks. They can be further subdivided into those representing near or far distant scenes. The latter should exhibit proportion between height and width to give a proper framework for the vista represented. Rocks resembling particular objects, such as human figures and animals may either bear such likeness in shape or spirit. The merit of the latter is that they both resemble and yet do not resemble a given object.

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Viewing Stones at National Bonsai & Penjing Museum

From the National Bonsai Foundation website (http://www.bonsai-nbf.org/site/viewing_stones.html)

Taihu Chinese Scholar?s Rock – Taihu stone

From Lake Tai, Jiangsu Province, China
83 x 38 x 30 cm
Donated by Kemin Hu, 2000
Photo: Joe Mullan

Taihu Chinese Scholar?s Rock – Lingbi stone

From Lingbi, Anhui Province, China
73 x 34 x 20 cm
Donated by Kemin Hu, 2000
Photo: Joe Mullan

Scholars’ Rocks at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY


Rock in the form of a seated tiger
Black Lingbi limestone with carved wooden stand
Promised Gift of the Richard Rosenblum Family

Vertical Rock
Gray Lingbi limestone with carved wooden stand
Promised Gift of the Richard Rosenblum Family

Vertical Rock
Off-white Zhaoqing limestone with carved wooden stand
Promised Gift of the Richard Rosenblum Family

Bamboo in Wind, about 1460
Xia Chang (1388-1470)
Hanging scroll; ink on paper
Edward Elliott Family Collection, Gift of Douglas Dillon, 1989 (1989.235.1)

Red Frined
Lang Ying (1585-ca. 1664)
Hanging scroll, ink and color on paper
Ex. coll.: C. C. Wang Family
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Earl Morse, in honor of Douglas Dillon, 1979 (1979.26)

Scholar on a Rock
Ren Yi (Ren Bonian; 1840-1896)
Folding fan mounted as an album leaf, ink and color on paper
Gift of Robert Hatfield Ellsworth, in memory of La Ferne Hatfield Ellsworth, 1986 (1986.267.49)

Garden of the Unsuccessful Politician, dated 1551
Wen Zhengming (1470-1559)
Album of eight paintings, ink on paper
Gift of Douglas Dillon, 1979 (1979.458.1)

Rocks in The Astor Court
Southwest corner with Cold Spring Pavilion
(The Astor Court was opened to the public in 1981)
Gift of the Vincent Astor Foundation, 1980

Rocks in The Astor Court
West wall, Taihu rocks and plantings
(The Astor Court was opened to the public in 1981)
Gift of the Vincent Astor Foundation, 1980

Lingbi Stone

Scholar's Rock - Lingbi StonePlace of origin:
Lingbi County, Anhui Province

Mineral composition:
Calcite and other limestones

Ranked first among the four types of famous Chinese Scholars Rocks. These are found in Lingbi county of Anhui Province, China. They are fine-grained, delicately textured limestone and lie deep in the red mud of the Qingshi mountains. Naturally shaped, they need no cutting or carving. Depleted after generations of mining, high quality Lingbi are now quite rare. They are hard and an ordinary knife cannot cut them. Their mineral composition is such that they produce a metallic, resonant sound when tapped. Hence they are also called ‘resonant rocks’ (bayinshi). They were sometimes used for making chimes and are thus also known as ‘chime rocks’. Lingbi rocks are beautiful and clear-cut, with a frame of soft lines. Combining masculine beauty with antique simplicity, they have been admired by connoisseurs for centuries. In the Northern Song dynasty, Emperor Huizong wrote this inscription on one Lingbi in his collection: “The mountain is high while the moon looks small the water ebbs and the rock juts forth.”