Asia Week New York, Zoom in on 'Unintended Consequences: An Overview of Objects of Addiction'
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Asia Week New York, Zoom in on 'Unintended Consequences: An Overview of Objects of Addiction'
Opium pipe, China, Qing dynasty to Republican period, inscribed with cyclical date corresponding to 1868 or 1928. Water buffalo horn, metal, and ceramic. Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop, 1943.55.6. Photo: President and Fellows of Harvard College; courtesy of the Harvard Art Museums.

NEW YORK, NY.- Asia Week New York, in collaboration with Harvard Art Museums, is presenting "Unintended Consequences: An Overview of “Objects of Addiction—Opium, Empire, and the Chinese Art Trade," now on display there through January 14, 2024. This intriguing webinar explores the interconnected histories of the opium trade and the Chinese art market from the late 18th to early 20th centuries. The event is scheduled for Wednesday, December 13, at 5:00 p.m. EST. Click here to register

Dr. Sarah Laursen, curator of "Objects of Addiction: Opium, Empire, and the Chinese Art Trade” will lead the discussion, unveiling the intricate relationship between opium and Chinese art. This exploration sheds light on their profound impact on the global economy, cultural landscape, education, and, notably, public health and immigration—issues that continue to resonate today. The session will be moderated by Lark Mason, founder of iGavelAuctions.

Dr. Laursen will provide a historical context to the complex opium and Chinese art trades, presenting a comprehensive timeline of events in China, Europe, and the United States. The consequences of the Opium Wars, from the 18th-century illegal sale of Indian opium in China to the active involvement of Massachusetts merchants in the opium trade during the 19th century, will be highlighted. The discussion will also explore the growing interest in Chinese art in Europe and the United States post-Opium Wars, examining the formation of Chinese art collections in Massachusetts in the early 20th century. Artifacts from former opium traders' homes, such as the Forbes House Museum and Ipswich Museum and others, illustrate the prevailing taste for functional or decorative objects such as export ceramics and lacquer furnishings. Newly available imperial palace treasures also prompted the collecting of ancient bronzes and jades unearthed from tombs. Dr. Laursen also draws parallels between China's historical opium crisis and the contemporary opioid epidemic in Massachusetts and offers potentially life-saving information about overdose prevention.

Asia Week New York

The collaboration of top-tier international Asian art galleries, the six major auction houses, Bonhams, Christie’s, Doyle, Heritage, iGavel, and Sotheby’s, and numerous museums and Asian cultural institutions, Asia Week New York is a week-long celebration filled with a non-stop schedule of simultaneous gallery open houses, Asian art auctions as well as numerous museum exhibitions, lectures, and special events. This year, participants from the United States and abroad will reveal an extraordinary array of museum-quality treasures from China, India, the Himalayas, Southeast Asia, Tibet, Nepal, Japan, and Korea.

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