Five Questions For: Asia Week Chairman Henry Howard-Sneyd

Asia Week New York began in 2009 as an initiative to promote Asian art in New York City and ultimately seeking a broader reach worldwide. Now in its fifth year, the event brings together a growing number of Asian art specialists and an international clientele, who are presented with a week full of programming at galleries, museums, cultural institutions, and auction houses. We spoke with Henry Howard-Sneyd, Executive Vice President and Asia Division Vice Chairman of Sotheby's North America and Chairman of Asia Week New York, about the growth of the program and the rise of Asian art in the United States—and particularly, how a platform like Artsy helps to raise awareness of art from all regions of Asia. 

Artsy: In the fifth iteration of Asia Week New York, can you talk about how the program has progressed over the years and what we can expect during this year’s festivities?

Henry Howard-Sneyd: The program has grown in terms of both scope and size with the number of participants jumping this year by over 20 percent to 43 percent. There is also more participation from outside of New York and overseas. The area that has most advanced this year is contemporary Chinese ink.

Artsy: How has U.S. presence of Asian art developed since the original inception of Asia Week New York?

HHS: The development since the inception of Asia Week New York is the growth in participation, particularly from abroad.

Artsy: Asia Week has seen a rise in the number of contemporary participants over the last five years. In what way do you engage a collector who might be accustomed to collecting antiquities to turn his or her eye toward contemporary work?

HHS: The nature of the week seeks to allow interaction across the widest disciplines due to the efforts of galleries, museums, and auction houses of different disciplines being in close proximity in time and space. There are many serendipitous moments where someone sees something they have never seen before and admires it. 

Artsy: Is there a particular exhibition or event you are most excited to see during Asia Week?

HHS: I think it is the wide variety that most excites me; however, The Artful Recluse: Painting, Poetry, and Politics in Seventeenth-Century China exhibition at the Asia Society particularly appeals to my personal taste. 

Artsy: Under the broad scope of Asian art, Chinese art in particular has received the most attention, critically and within the market. How might programs like Asia Week and the rise of universal, digital platforms like Artsy help raise awareness of art from other regions, for example Korea, Japan, India, Pakistan, the Himalayas?

HHS: I would say that by presenting everything in a single uniting platform we are doing a significant amount to raise the profile and to raise awareness in one collecting community of the potential in others.

Henry Howard-Sneyd is Executive Vice President of Sotheby's North America based in New York where he leads the Asia Division as Vice Chairman. Howard-Sneyd joined Sotheby's, London in 1988 in the Chinese art department. In 2000, he assumed the role as Managing Director of Sotheby's in Asia, based in Hong Kong, where he oversaw the beginning of the dramatic growth of the business in that market. Henry relocated to New York in the summer of 2007 and currently acts as Chairman of Asia Week New York. He continues as Sotheby’s leading auctioneer globally in the Asian Art field.