Auction - 14 Ju Ming lots at Sotheby's

Another day, another Sotheby's catalogue... The 20th Century Chinese Art auction, to be held Apr 5, will have no less than 14 Ju Ming's! Interestingly, the works embrace the Taiwanese sculptor's three very different styles. There is a wood sculpture of Mazu, the goddess of the sea, in his earlier nativism style, dating from 1982, several pieces from his “Taichi Series,” whose abstraction made him world famous, and then an example of his most recent “Living World Series” (my favorite photo left is an example and not at auction). I got a chance to interview Ju Ming back in 2004 when he had a big show at SAM. He started his career as the apprentice to a Buddhist statuary craftsman, but when he was 30, he persuaded Taiwan's leading modern sculptor, the Western-educated Yuyu Yang to accept him as a student. Under his tutelage, Ju Ming learned the new techniques being employed in contemporary art. The sculptor rose to international recognition with his acclaimed "Taichi Series," consisting of large, angular bronze giants frozen in tai chi exercise poses (top right). That Series has evolved over the past 30 years. The early works were of solitary figures, because he practiced Taichi alone at first. But as he grew more experienced he practiced with a partner, and this was also reflected in his sculptures.  The artist works mainly with a chainsaw and hacksaw on Styrofoam, creating strong, energetic lines for the sculptures. The foam is then used to cast the final work in bronze. His technique has been described as "fast and furious," but when I asked how long it takes him to sculpt a piece, Ju quipped, "Fifty years and a few minutes."