Shaykha Hussah al-Sabah  Program Pictures  Event Slide Show

A family affair describes our fourth program of 2001. Dr. George Fan, noted collector of Chinese porcelains and ancient bronzes and advisor to major world museums, outlined his strategies for collecting bronzes, while his wife, Katherine, talented abstract expressionist painter, told of sources of inspiration for her contemporary paintings. Daughter Madeline joined them from Chicago where she is registrar of the Chicago Art Institute and an artist like her mother. Intelligence and keen eyes run in the family. Dr., Fan's education and distinguished career as a physicist formed the basis for his superior techniques of bronze analysis. Katherine has blended her Chinese heritage with her observations of current life to challenge an intellectual response; her paintings are widely admired, exhibited in the Shanghai Museum, as well as many galleries and museums in the West. The conversations audience was privileged to see slides of her paintings and to hear the artist's descriptions of her subjects. Madeline was cited by her father as the solver of the puzzle which had stumped the experts, the inlay technique for an early bronze belt buckle. The three offered advice to the Denver collectors both at Conversations program, the morning workshop, and in friendly conversations during their two day visit. Katherine offered a catalog of her paintings at several drawings; several lucky audience members were delighted to receive this generous prize.

Dr. Fan assembled a fine collection of Chinese porcelains before devoting his energies to ancient bronzes; his current special interest is bronzeware with inscriptions. His listeners marveled at his ability to assign antique pieces, which lacked such dating information, to specific centuries. He noted that the higher weight of a bronze forgery is a reliable clue as old bronzes are lighter because of the oxidation of the metal which occurs in the millennia of burial. The piece mold technique used until about 500 BC was not rediscovered until 1940; the lack of the mold ridges on the pieces allegedly from the piece mold era is a sure indication of fakery. He considers x-ray as a tool but such findings are not conclusive. Dr. Fan feels that his analytical strategies can give 80% assurance that a piece is genuine. Nevertheless, he says that he will only say finally, "I like it or I don't like it." He notes that too much scrutiny has caused him to pass up choice pieces. Recent restorations are misleading; he has seen authentic bronzes before sculptural elements and patina have been added. Shape, design, details, patina and textural consistency are all factors to be considered in distinguishing between genuine and fake ancient bronze objects.

Denver collectors enjoyed the visit of the three fans. They are generous teachers.

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At the "Public Conversations with Curator Con Otsuka"

slide show

At the "Workshop" Session


At the Reception Honoring the Fans