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藏家筆記 vol. 2 朱塞佩·埃斯肯納齊:世界上最前端的亞洲古董藝術商 - Giuseppe Eskenazi: the world’s foremost dealer in Asian art.


埃斯肯納齊給自己定下的鐵律是不收藏自己經手的藝術品,但這尊木製觀音像(右圖)則是唯一的例外。「它擁有一切,神聖生動;充滿人性而溫暖。」照片:Eskenazi Gallery


2023年是梅費爾的埃斯肯納齊畫廊開始舉辦展覽的第五十個年頭,這位世界頂級古董商改變了西方藏家對於亞洲藝術的欣賞方式,他在本文中回顧自己職業生涯中秉持的專業熱忱、遠見卓識,以及創下紀錄的購藏歷史。


Giuseppe Eskenazi: the world’s foremost dealer in Asian art


過去六個月間,一件美輪美奐、攝人心魄的藝術品在倫敦克利福德街的埃斯肯納齊畫廊中展出。這是一尊菩薩頭像,已有1,300年歷史,推測曾為一尊高逾兩米的鎏金雕像之首。


要親眼見證這件稀世珍品,觀者必須穿過又窄又長的藝廊空間,彷彿教堂的中殿一般,令人分明感到像是在走向祭壇——這與畫廊內的寂靜氣氛固然有關,但主要原因在於這尊藝術品散發出的莊嚴氣勢。


For the past six months, an object of extraordinary beauty and power has been on show at the Eskenazi gallery on Clifford Street in London. It is the head of a bodhisattva, 1,300 years old, and once part of a gilded statue that must have stood well over two metres tall.


To see this wonderful work of art you must walk the length of the gallery — which is deep and narrow like the nave of a church. You have the distinct impression that you are approaching an altar — an effect partly due to the arrangement of the hushed space, but mostly to do with the numinous energy of the artwork itself.


19 Dec 2012 巴黎佳士得,902.5萬歐元成交。

Private collection, Paris, acquired at Etienne Ader and MM. André and Guy Portier, Drouot, 10 march 1947, lot 99


出版

Agence Quotidienne d'Informations Economiques et Financières, Journal d'Annonces Judiciaires et Légales, Edition de Paris, samedi 5 au mardi 8 avril 1947, no. 518.


RARE ET IMPORTANTE SCULPTURE DE GUANYIN EN BOIS


CHINE DU NORD, CIRCA XIIIEME SIECLE


Elle est représentée assise en lalitasana. Sa main gauche repose élégamment sur son genou. Sa main droite tenait probablement à l'origine le lotus. Elle est vêtue d'un dhoti plissé, une écharpe nouée sur sa poitrine. Ses épaules sont recouvertes d'un manteau souple dont l'une des manches flotte gracieusement autour du bras. Elle est parée d'un collier ouvragé. Son visage méditatif est ceint d'une tiare. Ses cheveux sont coiffés en un haut chignon, deux tresses retombant de part et d'autre ; restaurations, traces de polychromie et de dorure.


Hauteur: 175 cm. (69 in.), socle en bois des années 1930-40



神像表面的鎏金已然消失殆盡。頭像的面部如今呈現出斑駁的灰色,唇部依稀可見紅色痕跡。菩薩的表情十分肅穆,但越是凝視就越會認為他其實在強忍笑意。


他的眉間嘴角都流露出歡樂,彷彿已經大徹大悟的蒙娜麗莎,令人感到親切並共情。他看著喧囂塵世和煙火人間而感到十分有趣,你我均是他眼中熙熙攘攘的一員。


All the gold is gone from the deity’s head. His face is now a mottled grey, though there are visible traces of red on the lips. His expression is utterly serene, but the longer you look at it, the more it appears that he is suppressing a laugh. A hint of merriment is there in the arch of his eyebrows and the compression of his mouth. The shadow-smile of this enlightened Gioconda seems affectionate and compassionate, as if he were privately amused by the absurd drama of the cosmos and all actors in it — you included.


這尊菩薩頭像是一組三尊之一,均於1930年在日本刊登發表。其中一尊現藏於大英博物館。製造頭像的中空夾紵工藝常見於公元6至8世紀。照片:Eskenazi Gallery



「能夠在畫廊中擁有這種質素的藝術品,令人激動萬分。」畫廊東主朱塞佩·埃斯肯納齊表示。「作品的精美細節令人難以想像,譬如頭髮、髮髻。還有眼睛,雖然是玻璃製作但卻流露出人性光輝。」這位世界上最重要的中國古董藝術商將底座上的頭像旋轉過來,讓筆者能夠望進內部。


‘It’s so exciting to have a piece of this quality in the gallery,’ says Giuseppe Eskenazi, owner of the gallery and the world’s foremost dealer in Chinese art. ‘It is a mind-blowing work: just look at the hair, look at the chignon. And the eyes, they are made of glass but are so human.’ He reaches up to turn the head around on its pedestal, so that it is possible to look inside.



「雕像完全由漆製作。」他說——的確,我們能看到樹脂浸透的紵麻那粗糙的紋路,與生漆縱橫交錯,將泥形土胎挖出後便成為內部中空的生漆造像。


雕像內部清晰可見的匠人工藝與外部雕琢精美的五官外形相比十分不同,親眼所見令人感動。這種強烈對比本不應被世人見到,見證了創意過程的昇華,最普通的材料也可以被巧手匠心轉化為最至高無上的藝術精品。

‘It’s pure lacquer,’ he says — and sure enough you can see the coarse weave of the resin-soaked hemp, which was laid like papier-mâché onto a clay form to create the hollow skull.

It is moving to behold the honest, legible workmanship of the interior surface, so different from the polished refinement of the facial features. That contrast, never intended to be seen, says something about sublimation in the creative process, about how humble materials can be transmuted into the pure gold of artistic truth.





這尊菩薩頭像是「唐:瓷器、金屬器及雕像」展覽的一部分。50年來,埃斯肯納齊畫廊一直策劃此類展覽。首個展覽於1972年開幕,亦以唐代工藝品為主題。當時還沒有藝術商策劃主題展覽。


「當時人們都認為我很瘋狂。」埃斯肯納齊回憶道。部分原因是其他藝術商都出於商業原因將所有頂尖藝術品擺放在櫥窗內,不論其品類;也因為埃斯肯納齊感興趣的早期中國古董在當時並不為人熟知。1970年代,大家都想買一件敦厚穩重的明代花瓶,以做檯燈之用。「到訪藝廊的人聽說我不經手這種藝術品後,都感到十分吃驚。」


The head is one work in an exhibition drily entitled Tang: Ceramics, Metalwork and Sculpture. For 50 years now, the Eskenazi gallery has been staging such curated shows. The first of them, in 1972, also had the Tang dynasty as its subject. Back then, art dealers didn’t stage themed exhibitions.


‘People thought I was crazy,’ says Eskenazi. This was partly because commercial wisdom dictated that all your top pieces, whatever they might be, went straight in the shop window; but also because the early Chinese art that interested Eskenazi was not widely esteemed or understood. In the 1970s, everybody wanted a stout Ming vase that they could turn into a table lamp. ‘People came into the gallery and were amazed when I said that I don’t handle that kind of object.’


「每個週末我都在維多利亞與亞伯特博物館度過,因為我求知若渴,想了解更多。」——朱塞佩·埃斯肯納齊


但時代精神亦有可圈可點之處,因為埃斯肯納齊藝廊首次展覽開幕時,有藏家連夜排隊入場只為先睹為快。展覽開幕一個小時後,半數展品已經售出。也許有人認為這是新手運氣好的表現——不過埃斯肯納齊二十出頭就加入了家族生意,當時已經入行十年有餘。


「我曾經覺得自己會在倫敦大學學院修讀醫學——家族中不少前輩都是醫生,但父親過世時我十分年輕,有兩條路擺在我面前:在沒有收入的情況下繼續修讀醫學,或者是接手家族生意。我做出了自己的選擇。」他沒有放棄學習——只是換了一個領域,雖然接受的訓練並非如醫生那樣正規,但在難度上卻絲毫不遜色。


「每個週末我都在維多利亞與亞伯特博物館度過,因為我求知若渴,想了解更多。我不知道去哪裡獲得教導幫助,但很幸運有兩位導師對我有信心。一位是威廉·沃森(William Watson,倫敦大學中國藝術及考古學教授),另一位是瑪格麗特·麥德利(漢學家和藝術史學家)。她耐心與我交流,引導我了解瓷器的製作過程,以及為何中國瓷器如何精美無朋。」



But something must have been right about the zeitgeist, because collectors queued overnight to be first through Eskenazi’s door on the opening day of the inaugural exhibition. Half the pieces sold within the hour. That success could be seen as beginner’s luck — except that Eskenazi had been a player for more than a decade by then, having joined the family firm in his early twenties.


‘I had thought I might do medicine at University College — there were lots of doctors in the family. But then my father died. I was still very young, and I was presented with an option: to carry on without means, or to come into this business. I made my choice.’ He continued his studies — in a different sphere, and in a way that was less formal but no less rigorous than a doctor’s training.


‘I spent every weekend at the Victoria and Albert Museum, because I wanted to learn more, to handle more,’ he says. ‘I didn’t know where to go for help, but I was fortunate in having two people who believed in me. One was William Watson [professor of Chinese art and archaeology at the University of London], and the other was Margaret Medley [the Sinologist and art historian]. She took the time to talk to me, and I came to understand how porcelains are made, why the Chinese were so good at it.’


2005年現身市場前,這件元代大瓶被不知情的前藏家用作收納DVD影碟。埃斯肯納齊意識到大瓶的價值後,於2005年7月12日在佳士得倫敦拍賣上與其他五位藏家展開競投戰。經過漫長叫價後,埃斯肯納齊以破紀錄的15,688,000英鎊將其收入囊中


埃斯肯納齊於二戰爆發前夕出生於伊斯坦布爾;他的童年經歷令他能操一口流利的希臘語、法語及土耳其語;他在意大利度過少年時期,隨後來到格洛斯特郡就讀於寄宿學校,當時一句英文也不會講。思想自由開放、好奇的世界大同主義者——這些可謂埃斯肯納齊與生俱來的特質。


「祖父曾經將我們的家族形容為東方的歐洲人,和歐洲的東方人。」他在以藝術交易市場為主題的部分自傳體著作《A Dealer’s Hand》中如是說。可以說這種局外人的視角令埃斯肯納齊家族從業多年來受益匪淺:畢竟這份工作需要每天對複雜人性做出精準判斷,能夠置身事外做出客觀決定非常重要。


Eskenazi was born in Istanbul on the eve of the Second World War; grew up speaking Greek, French and Turkish; then spent his early teens in Italy before being sent to boarding school in Gloucestershire, with barely two words of English to rub together. So a kind of open-minded, curious cosmopolitanism is Eskenazi’s birthright.


‘My grandfather used to refer to us as Europeans in the Orient and Orientals in Europe,’ he wrote in his part-autobiographical book about the art trade, A Dealer’s Hand. One suspects that the outsider’s perspective has been a boon down the years: being at one remove is useful when your job involves making shrewd calls on human nature.


朱塞佩與兒子丹尼爾。丹尼爾一直是埃斯肯納齊藝廊多個成功展覽的重要背後推手。他手中的唐代鳳首壺在1972年藝廊首個展覽開幕第一天,便以45,000英鎊的價格售出——幾十年後,埃斯肯納齊家族以200萬英鎊的價格重新回購此壺。照片:Eskenazi Gallery


初出茅廬的埃斯肯納齊家庭背景並無優勢可言。「對當時倫敦的知名藝術商而言,雖然不能說我是他們的眼中釘,但他們大概希望我不是他們的同行。他們並不想與一個意大利混血共事,但格羅夫納古董博覽會開幕前幾天,他們總會來到我的藝廊買些東西。」埃斯肯納齊回憶道。


「為什麼呢?後來突然真相大白,因為我的貨品在博覽會有銷路——但他們還是不肯接納我,他們不想在那裡見到我也不願給我機會參展。可以想像到我的懊惱之情吧!他們都很自命不凡,而我只是個外國小子。」


埃斯肯納齊藝廊至今已經策劃舉辦了近100場主題展覽,這一手法現已成為打破古董界閉塞圈子的策略,更重新塑造了中國藝術市場。有時,埃斯肯納齊會將一些藝術品收藏多年,等待最佳的展覽及銷售機會,同時宣揚中國古代藝術。

Eskenazi’s background did not look like an advantage when he was starting out. ‘When I think of the top dealers in London at the time, I wouldn’t say I was a thorn in their flesh but they certainly could have done without me,’ he recalls. ‘They were not interested in spending time with a young half-Italian, yet a few days before the Grosvenor Fair they would turn up at my gallery and buy a few bits and pieces.


‘Why? Suddenly the penny dropped. It was because my things were saleable at the fair — yet they wouldn’t accept me, they didn’t want me there or allow me to take part. The frustration! They were all very snobbish, and I was just a foreign boy.’


The curated exhibitions — nearly 100 of them so far — evolved into a strategy to circumvent that closed network, and to remake the landscape of the Chinese art market. Sometimes Eskenazi would hang on to pieces for years, waiting for the right context in which to show and sell, and at the same time to promote early Chinese art.



「如果我們只想贏利的話自然不必如此。但主題展覽的好處是所有人都能學到新事物,無論他們是否買家。」——丹尼爾·埃斯肯納齊


「舉辦普通展覽時,人們也許會記得一兩件展品,但他們看不到任何藝術領域的全景。」朱塞佩之子丹尼爾·埃斯肯納齊表示,他自1990年代起就與父親並肩工作。「如果我們只想贏利的話自然不必如此。但主題展覽的好處是所有人都能學到新事物,無論他們是否買家。」


這種分享藝術和知識的願景一直體現在每本展覽圖錄中的研究細節中。1985年,埃斯肯納齊對《The Antique Collector》講述了自己的心路歷程。「如果我們蒐集一系列沒有在拍賣或是在公眾視野中出現過的重要藝術品,秉持著謙虛平和的思路撰寫一本包含豐富信息的圖錄,換句話說就是清楚意識到我們在藝術市場中的定位,我們就可以幫助公眾意識到,除了拍賣之外還有其他地方可以買到藝術精品。」


埃斯肯納齊實現了他謙虛的願望,同時亦吸引到藝術界專家的熱切留意。《南華早報》將一本關於中國銅雕的埃斯肯納齊圖錄譽為「我們見過最好的藝術圖錄之一」。而知名藝評家及藝術史學家索倫· 麥理肯(Souren Melikian)則表示埃斯肯納齊對日本漆器的總括「將一直是這一領域研究最為透徹的頂尖書目」。



‘When you have a general show, people might remember a piece or two, but they don’t get an overall picture of any part of the field,’ says Giuseppe’s son Daniel Eskenazi, who has worked alongside his father since the 1990s. ‘If turning a profit was our sole object we wouldn’t do it this way. But the nice thing about a show with a theme is that everyone who comes, whether they buy or not, is learning something.’


That mission to share the art, and the knowledge of the art, has always been backed up by research that is distilled and decanted into each exhibition catalogue. In 1985, Eskenazi explained his thinking to The Antique Collector. ‘If we could gather a number of important art objects that had not been through the auctions and widely seen, and write an informative catalogue without being pretentious, in other words being aware of our position in the art market, we could make the public aware of fine objects available outside the saleroom.’


Specialists in the field took note as the firm met that modestly worded goal, and went beyond it. The South China Morning Post  called an Eskenazi work on Chinese bronzes ‘one of the best-produced catalogues of art objects I have ever seen’. Souren Melikian, renowned art critic and historian, said that an Eskenazi overview of Japanese lacquer ‘will remain the best-researched book on the subject’.


Glazed stoneware fluted bowl / Northern Song dynasty, 11th - 12th centuryNorthern black ware, possibly Cizhou kilnsMaximum width: 14.7cmHeight: 8.5cm Notable for its rare shape and striking russet ‘partridge-feather’ splashed decoration, this bowl featured in four exhibitions including in the 1954 Mostra d’Arte Cinese in Venice, and in three exhibitions held by the Oriental Ceramic Society, the most recent being in 2021.


1988年,埃斯肯納齊以160萬英鎊的價格在佳士得紐約拍得這一青銅器,刷新當時的中國工藝品拍賣紀錄。「可能是我的浪漫主義作祟,但我想擁有最頂級的中國藝術精品,哪怕只是短暫的一段時間。」他在拍賣會後表示。照片:Eskenazi Gallery


埃斯肯納齊藝廊的許多出版物都以透徹深入的學術文章、精心設計和最高標準,成為各個領域內的佼佼者。圖錄早期由設計師戈登·豪斯(Gordon House)負責,他是朱塞佩的好友,曾經設計了披頭四名曲《Sgt. Pepper’s》和《White Album》的密紋唱片封套。


埃斯肯納齊圖錄成為首個以中英雙語刊載藝術品說明的刊物。這要歸功於朱塞佩愛妻勞拉(Laura)的堅持,她一生堅持學習中文。如今看來為中國藝術品提供中文說明似乎是十分合理的文化禮貌,但埃斯肯納齊毫無疑問是首開先河者。


同時,藝廊本身也成為學術資源。克利福德街藝廊的上層堆滿了書籍——這本身便是一個難得的珍藏。


「沒有人知道我們展出的菩薩頭像曾收錄於1930年在大阪出版的刊物中。」埃斯肯納齊談起這尊絕妙的菩薩頭像。「我們在藝廊收集的書籍中找到這一參考——這就是擁有豐富圖書的好處。」


「大多數藝術商購買頂級精品後便不再釋出市場。我覺得這種做法不夠道德,絕對不可取,因為這樣你就擁有了比客戶更多的優勢。」——朱塞佩·埃斯肯納齊


‘Most of the dealers bought the best to keep. I think that is immoral, absolutely wrong, because it gives you an advantage over your clients’ — Giuseppe Eskenazi



這種輕描淡寫的手法對市場產生了深遠影響——埃斯肯納齊藝廊同時在拍賣場上高調出手購藏,有時甚至營造出戲劇般的效果。朱塞佩·埃斯肯納齊逐漸培養出購藏慧眼,早期中國藝術亦因此吸引到多方注意,成為眾人趨之若鶩的珍罕精品。


1988年,埃斯肯納齊在佳士得紐約拍賣會上豪擲270萬美元,買下一件已有3,600年歷史的水牛形青銅酒器。「昂貴的酒壺。」當時一篇轟動業界的報導以此為頭條——的確,沒人曾經以如此昂貴的價格購買一件中國藝術品。


2005年,埃斯肯納齊在倫敦拍賣上以逾1,500萬英鎊的價格投得一尊元代青花大罐——再次刷新中國藝術品世界拍賣紀錄。2012年在佳士得巴黎拍賣中,他以900萬歐元的價格買下一尊木製觀音像,為高估價的30倍之多。


這件薩珊王朝風格的鳳首壺是埃斯肯納齊藝廊首個展覽圖錄的封面。照片:Eskenazi Gallery

在画廊中打开图片 / 藝廊於2013年舉辦鈞窯瓷器展,埃斯肯納齊邀請著名花藝大師Sumie Takahashi為瓷器創作花藝


乍一看也許會以為埃斯肯納齊在拍賣場上的豪爽像極了走火入魔的藏家,在氣氛緊張的拍賣廳內被沖昏頭腦,不再留意具體數字。但他表示自己從未在拍賣中迷失自我——更重要的是,他根本不打算擁有自己貢獻一生的藝術品。


「大多數藝術商,尤其是美國藝術商,購買頂級精品後便不再釋出市場。我覺得這種做法不夠道德,絕對不可取,因為這樣你就擁有了比客戶更多的優勢。你怎麼能夠對買家說,『這件藝術品不錯,但最好的已經被我收藏了』?如果我用這種方式對待你,那我每次邀請你來家中晚餐前都要把所有藝術品都藏起來。」



埃斯肯納齊多年來多次重申這一立場,在客人到訪前將所有珍貴藝術品藏起來——這個幽默的故事就彷彿他的名片一樣為人熟知。不論是將想像中的宋代花瓶匆匆藏在櫥櫃中,或是將古代銅器擺在床下,他要說明的意思只有一個:這是他的一片赤誠。


「大衛·霍克尼曾經到訪藝廊。當塞尚畫作已經超過我的負擔能力時,我開始購藏霍克尼畫作。」


「人而無信,不知其可也。大車無輗,小車無軏,其何以行之哉?」埃斯肯納齊在自己著作的題記中引用了這句《論語》中的孔子名言。


‘I know not what a man without trustworthiness may accomplish,’ reads the epigraph to his book, a quotation from Confucius. ‘Be it large or small, how could a carriage move without its yoke-bar?’



而埃斯肯納齊一生都熱衷收藏:從童年時的海灘貝殼、青年時的英國家具,到成年後的歐洲油畫及素描。他對塞尚作品一直情有獨鍾,談到藝術家時滔滔不絕,信手拈來,彷彿塞尚是他多年相熟的老友一般。


「一位了不起的人物。」他感慨道。「塞尚會不斷來到聖維克多山作畫,然後去咖啡館描繪玩牌的人。他並不花費太多筆墨,而是透過色彩講述巧妙故事,將豐富內容呈現在有興趣的觀者眼前。塞尚的作品表面之下有無限深意。」


埃斯肯納齊收藏過一些塞尚作品,但在業務亟需資金時轉手賣出。「我想念那些作品,但沒關係。我不一定要收藏它們,我沒有擁有的執念。」他一直保留著自己的大衛·霍克尼(David Hockney)作品——他曾經在藝廊中見過霍克尼。「大衛·霍克尼曾經到訪藝廊。當塞尚畫作已經超過我的負擔能力時,我開始購藏霍克尼畫作。」


2002年,埃斯肯納齊為兩件藝術品專門出版了一本圖錄。這是兩件魚藻紋罐——一件來自十四世紀,另一件來自十六世紀。這本圖錄堪稱是嚴謹學術研究的教科書。「四條魚的鑑定是一個十分複雜的過程。」圖錄中帶點苦笑意味地寫道。照片:Eskenazi Gallery


他也回憶起與羅斯科(Rothko)在其紐約畫室的短暫會面。「我認為他是一位偉大的畫家,會面結束後我幾乎想向全世界廣而告之。」原來埃斯肯納齊被羅斯科作品吸引的理由與塞尚幾乎相同:「那些巨大明亮的色彩——如此理性非凡。」



我們不禁會問,埃斯肯納齊看待現代西方藝術的眼光是否與他欣賞中國古代藝術的方式一脈相承?他否認了這一說法——「欣賞一件雅緻的明代瓷盌表面,與將自己沉浸在抽象畫作的層次中,是絕不相同的兩件事。」但這個問題也令他在兩種文化間搭建起一座詩意的橋樑。


「我一直認為中國書法非常有趣。」他表示。「我妻子學習中文時,我觀察她開始學習書寫的方式,怎樣落筆,怎樣在起承轉合間寫下粗細不同的筆觸。這個過程非常美妙。我因此想起波洛克(Pollock)——和他潑灑色彩的方式。人們以為他的創作是偶然的產物,但他完全知道要將筆觸帶向何方,將顏料潑灑於畫布何處。」


埃斯肯納齊的藝術人生中有一點毋庸置疑,那就是他在這個過程中一直享有的無上樂趣——或買或賣、或艱難或順遂、或東方或西方。「我很滿意我的一生——這就是最好的樣子。我一直很快樂。」


2023年 SACA採訪Eskenazi:


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