Saturday, April 27, 2019

An Empire of Bamboo in the Home of Collectors

Show Us Your Walls
By Ted Loos
Diane and Arthur Abbey’s apartment contains a mix of modern art and Japanese baskets. On wall, clockwise from top left, “Spritze” (1924), Wassily Kandinsky; “Woman-Torso” (1965-66), Willem de Kooning; and “Moonlight Landscape” (1914), Man Ray. On left table, from left: “Fuki or Noble Wealth” (1940), Tanabe Chikuunsai II; bamboo basket for tea ceremony articles (2007), Watanabe Shochikusai II; and “Flower Basket” (after 1946), Suemura Shobun.
Collectors who are just starting out spend time chasing down their objects of desire. Once they’ve made it, they can sit back and wait for the phone to ring. “We’re at the point now, where, if something brilliant comes up, somebody calls us,” said Diane Abbey, who, with her husband, Arthur, is among the world’s top collectors of Japanese bamboo baskets. The couple — who split their time between the Upper East Side and the Hamptons when not traveling the world — own around 300 in total. Some of them were seen in the 2017-18 exhibition “Japanese Bamboo Art: The Abbey Collection” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. [More]