It’s not as dramatic as the stock market drop, but the coronavirus has also knocked out this week’s big sales of Asian art as well as the Metropolitan Museum of Art (though its Asian art shows will remain on view when the museum reopens). With the exception of the South Asian modern and contemporary sales at Sotheby’s and Christie’s, the cluster of major auctions that usually form the centerpiece of Asia Week New York, an annual festival dedicated to Asian arts and antiquities, have all been postponed to the end of June.
But since most of the art is already here, selections will still be on public view — and nearly all of the museum shows, lectures, gallery walks and open houses that fill out this engaging week, which runs through March 19, are going on as planned. Dozens of dealers, mostly on the Upper East Side, will be open to the public all weekend, as will Bonham’s, Christie’s, Sotheby’s and others. Tied-in museum shows are up and running, not just in New York but as far away as New Haven, Conn., Princeton, N.J., and Philadelphia. Here are several highlights worth traveling for — but double-check opening hours.
‘Chinese Painting and Calligraphy Up Close’ at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. As usual, this gargantuan institution offers several major shows — from a treasure house of sword guards and tea bowls from Kyoto, Japan’s imperial capital for more than a thousand years, to a selection of eye-dazzling miniature paintings from northern India. But if you have to choose one, go for the Chinese painting and calligraphy. Pairing rare items from the collection with photo enlargements, the show guides you to subtle details that even the most interested amateur might otherwise miss. One gorgeous gray ink painting of a fish dates back to the 13th century, but wears a fresh expression of comic pomposity that would easily fit in a TV cartoon. Through Jan. 3 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan; 212-535-7710, metmuseum.org.
‘Boro Textiles: Sustainable Aesthetics’ at Japan Society. Even into the 20th century, when imported cotton became widely available and samurai-era restrictions on silk had lapsed, small farmers in northern Japan were making their hemp work clothes last for decades. They were also combining whatever little cotton they could afford with loose scraps of hemp to make underwear and sleep clothes. The cultural anthropologist Chuzaburo Tanaka began snapping up these intricately stitched “boro,” or rags, around Aomori Prefecture in the 1960s, and his collection, paired with examples of avant-garde Japanese fashion featuring boro-like patterns, is now making its first visit to the United States. It makes for a fascinating but sometimes uncomfortable contest between material hardship and aesthetic ingenuity, with victories for both sides. For every accidental beauty like the magnificently striped sleep jacket that opens the show, there’s a poignant memento of poverty, such as a tattered but brightly colored pair of children’s slippers. Through June 14 at Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street, Manhattan; 212-832-1155, japansociety.org.
‘Kogei: Art Craft Japan’ at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The distinction between art and craft is of recent vintage in Japan, which was largely closed to foreign trade until 1854. For centuries artists poured as much creative energy into bowls, pots and vases as they did into poetry or painting — and many still do, turning out kogei, or unique objects made with traditional materials and methods, at an overwhelming clip. A new rotation of such work from this museum’s excellent permanent collection is reason enough to make the trek down. A faceted white porcelain vase by Akihiro Maeta would upstage almost any flowers you put in it, and it would take an unusually bright persimmon to hold its own in Kimura Yoshiro’s jewel-like “Vessel With Blue Glaze.” Through the fall at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway; 215-763-8100, philamuseum.org.
Francesca Galloway Stunning 18th-century Indian miniatures illustrate the epic “Ramayana.” Look for an army of monkeys building a bridge across the sea. Through March 19 at Stellan Holm Gallery, 1018 Madison Avenue, Manhattan; 917-943-7737, francescagalloway.com.
Kaikodo LLC A panoply of Chinese luxury objects going back to a gold-studded belt hook more than 2,000 years old. Through May 8 at 74 East 79th Street, Manhattan; 212-585-0121, kaikodo.com.
J.J. Lally A host of extravagant ink pots, brush stands and solid jade wine cups appear in “Elegantly Made: Art for the Chinese Literati.” Through March 22 at 41 East 57th Street, Manhattan; 212-371-3380, jjlally.com.
Joan B. Mirviss Ltd. Sensational contemporary ceramics continue a glazing style first developed in 16th-century Japan, alongside a collection of unusually elegant woodblock prints. Through April 24 at 39 East 78th Street, Manhattan; 212-799-4021, mirviss.com.
Rosenberg & Co. The Vietnamese artist Nguyen Cam spent his childhood in Laos as a refugee and moved to France in 1969 to attend the École des Beaux-Arts. Now, when he’s not teaching in Hanoi, he’s outside Paris, making lush mixed-media abstractions. Through April 18 at 19 East 66th Street, Manhattan; 212-202-3270, rosenbergco.com.
Scholten Japanese Art A private collection of 200-year-old woodblock prints from the “golden age of ukiyo-e,” including some unique examples, passes briefly through the market. Through March 21 at 145 West 58th Street, Manhattan; 212-585-0474, scholten-japanese-art.com.
Eric Zetterquist This year’s astonishing crop of Chinese ceramics includes a pair of flower-shaped bowls from the Song dynasty (1127-1279), delicate white porcelain with a pale blue glaze. Through March 21 at 3 East 66th Street, #2B, Manhattan; 212-751-0650, zetterquist.com.
Asia Week New York
March 12-19 at various locations; asiaweekny.com.