Contemporary Asian art in New York City: Art Radar guide

An Art Radar guide to New York City’s Asian contemporary art scene.

In our latest City Art Guide, we look at New York City, a global centre for contemporary art and culture. This art guide contains tips and suggestions on when and where to see Asian art in a city that’s home to an extraordinary selection of museums, galleries and cultural organisations.

Asia Week New York, 2014. Reception at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image courtesy of Asia Week.

Asia Week New York, 2014. Reception at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image courtesy Asia Week.

With a diverse range of arts and cultural institutions, New York is an exciting place to experience contemporary art. New York City hosts numerous international art and design fairs several times a year, and attracts art lovers from around the world.

From Upper East Side to Midtown, from Chelsea to Lower East Side, Art Radar highlights the best destinations to experience Asian contemporary art.

When to see Asian contemporary art in New York City

Although New York City has an art scene that’s buzzing all year round, the best times to experience contemporary Asian art are in mid-March, during Asia Week, and in autumn during the Asian Contemporary Art Week (ACAW).

Asian Contemporary Art Week dates October 22 - 31, 2014. Image courtesy Asian Contemporary Art Week.

Asian Contemporary Art Week dates October 22 – 31, 2014. Image courtesy Asian Contemporary Art Week.

Asian art weeks in New York City

  • Asia Week takes over New York City in March, which is the perfect time to visit and experience nine days of Asian art events throughout the city. Since its inception in 2009, special Asian art events have been showcased by art specialists, galleries, auction houses, museums and cultural institutions. In 2014, the participation grew to 47 dealers who presented exhibitions during Asia Week.
  • Asian Contemporary Art Week (ACAW)Founded in 2002, ACAW is an initiative of the Asian Contemporary Art Consortium (ACAC) and Asia Society Museum. There’s a wide array of special exhibitions, projects, discussions on the latest news in Asian contemporary art. The events coordinated and presented by ACAW take place in late October, and this year it will be held from 22 to 31 October 2014.
Installation view of Seung-taek Lee's works. Gallery Hyundai at Frieze New York, 2014. Photo by Christine Lee for Art Radar.

Installation view of Seung-taek Lee’s works. Gallery Hyundai at Frieze New York, 2014. Photo by Christine Lee for Art Radar.

Art fairs

  • The Armory Show takes place in the first week of March (Pier 94 for Contemporary art and Pier 92 for Modern art, located on the Hudson river) and draws an international art crowd. The March 2014 show featured a curated section with a focus on China by Philip Tinari, Director of the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing. Some of the noteworthy satellite fairs to visit during this week are Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA), Independent Art Fair, Fountain Art Fair, SCOPE Art Show and VOLTA New York, a fair that exclusively presents solo artist projects. VOLTA is deemed the Armory’s sister show, with a shared VIP access and shuttles to and from the two fairs. In addition, museums, galleries and auction houses showcase special exhibitions and events during Armory week.
  • Frieze New York – the first week of May is an ideal time visit with Frieze New York taking over Randall’s Island. With a large selection of works for sale by emerging and established artists, including many Asian artists, this fair caters to international art collectors. Frieze New York also brings a multitude of satellite fairs to New York, among them the Collective 2 Design Fair which has drawn a large art and design crowd with 36 international exhibitions. Contemporary Art Fair NYC caters to new collectors at lower prices; PULSE New York, a staple art fair in the city; and Verge NYC, a fair fun by artists, are other must-visits. Furthermore, museums and galleries feature noteworthy exhibitions around the city that provide a rich experience for the art audience.
Takashi Homma, 'Tokyo and My Daughter', 1999-2010, set of 27, photography, type C-print, face mounted on acrylic. © Takashi Homma Image courtesy Taro Nasu.

Takashi Homma, ‘Tokyo and My Daughter’, 1999-2010, set of 27, photography, type C-print, face mounted on acrylic. © Takashi Homma. Image courtesy Taro Nasu.

Where to see contemporary art in New York City


  • Metropolitan Museum of Art – One of the world’s largest art museums with an impressive worldwide art collection that spans from ancient to contemporary art. The museum’s Asian collection is the largest and most comprehensive in the West and ranges in date from the second millennium B.C. to the early twentieth century.
  • MoMA The Museum of Modern Art was founded in 1929 and is the foremost modern art museum in the world. It strives to transcend national boundaries and present art in a contemporary context. In 2012, Doryun Chong curated a pivotal exhibition here titledTokyo 1955-1970: A New Avant-Garde” that brought a new understanding of artworks that were produced in Tokyo during this time period.
  • The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum – is an internationally renowned museum located in four major cities around the world. The New York museum houses modern and contemporary art. Its Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative, which focuses on cross-cultural collaboration from South and Southeast Asia, Latin America, Middle East and North Africa, involves exhibitions, dialogue and educating local and global communities on transnational art.
  • Asia Society and Museum – founded in 1956, with centres in Hong Kong and Houston and offices around major cities in the world, Asia Society, is a leading educational organisation. It is dedicated to mutual understanding across Asia and the United States in the areas of art, culture, business and education. The museum organises groundbreaking exhibitions of both traditional and contemporary Asian art.
  • Rubin Museum of Art – with a comprehensive collection of art from the Himalayas and surrounding regions, this museum is dedicated to displaying and preserving Himalayan and Tibetan art and culture.

Auction houses

  • Christie’s – a chief auction house with locations in major cities, Christie’s holds auctions throughout the year. Their Asian and Middle Eastern specialists organise exhibitions and auctions of Japanese and Korean art, South Asian modern and contemporary art, Iranian, Arab and Turkish art, and Indian art.
  • Sotheby’s – another leading auction house with locations in major cities including London, Paris, Geneva, Hong Kong and Beijing. Currently headquartered in New York, this location organises nearly 100 high-profile auctions every year, ranging from European modern and contemporary art to Asian and Middle Eastern art.
  • Bonhams – an auction house on a scale smaller than Christie’s and Sotheby’s, Bonhams is best known for niche specialisations such as contemporary ceramics or pop-culture objects, and also has an Asian auction department.
  • Phillips – a smaller auction house that focuses exclusively on contemporary art from around the world.
Installation view: Gutai: Splendid Playground, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, February 15–May 8, 2013. Photo: David Heald © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation

Installation view of Gutai, ‘Splendid Playground, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, February 15–May 8, 2013. Photo: David Heald © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation

Top art galleries – a selection

Nonprofit cultural organisations and art spaces


Takashi Murakami, ‘Flower Ball 3-D Kindergarten’, 2007, acrylic and silver gold leaf on canvas mounted on board, 39.5 inches diameter. ©Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co. Ltd.

Where to stay and dine in New York on your art trip

Hotels in ideal locations

  • MidtownFour Seasons or the Essex House offer bustling crowds, a central location, horse-drawn carriages near Central Park, and a selection of galleries to visit on 57th Street. Another alternative hotel with local art in Midtown on the westside is The Ace Hotel.
  • Chelsea and Meat Packing District – Home to more than 350 galleries, Chelsea has the highest concentration of galleries in New York City. Hotels in the nearby Meat Packing District are The Standard and Gansevoort Hotel. They offer visitors easy access to trendy shops, restaurants and an active nightlife.

Places to eat for art lovers – a selection

Christine Lee


Related Topics: art tourism, art fairsart spacesart districtsCity Art Guidesart in New York

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