For Collectors of the Fine and Decorative Arts
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  • Features From Previous Issues

    Otherworldly Masquerade

    There is something inherently uncanny about masks. The placement of a false face over a real face, the displacement of identity, the fixed expression, all conspire to unsettle or even frighten the beholder. The sense of the weird is especially strong in masks that were intended to represent unearthly beings and to allow humans to temporarily assume the identity of denizens of the spirit world during religious or magical ceremonies. Continue reading

    Critic’s Notebook: Conceptualizing Tradition

    In 1997, the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei published a photograph showing Tiananmen Square blocked out by his middle finger. He titled his image Study in Perspective, in a phrase making a provocative statement out of an obscene gesture. Formulating his contempt for power in a manner akin to a classical painter extending a digit to reckon proportions, Ai suggested that the individual artist might eclipse even the most oppressive government. Continue reading

    In a Nutshell: Up to Snuff

    Some objects that modern collectors regard as works of art were not seen that way by the people who originally made and bought them; so it is with snuff bottles. Tobacco reached China in the 16th century, but the use of snuff, its powdered form, became fashionable in the Qing dynasty (1644–1911). Its wealthy inhalers carried their personal rations in bottles rather than the boxes their European counterparts favored. Continue reading

    Collecting: Story Boards

    Without documentation of such a popular pastime as the ancient Japanese hunting sport of inuoumono, which literally means “dog chasing,” its history would be as lost as the pursuit itself. Developed during the 12th century and reaching the height of its popularity in the 17th, inuoumono tested a samurai’s archery and riding skills. Contestants would mount their horses, with bows and padded arrows in hand, and compete to earn points by targeting dogs on their sides. Continue reading