A Visit With the Komodo Dragons

In 1910, Lt. van Steyn van Hensbroek of the Dutch colonial administration in Indonesia set out in search of the mysterious “land crocodiles” he had heard about.

Singapore: Portraits of the Prime Minister

The vibrant watercolor shows a gaming table with three playing cards, each depicting a different portrait of the same man. Small figures kneel at the corners pleading, “Papa, can you help me not be frightened?” and “Papa, don’t you know I have no choice?”

Made for China

With Western markets sagging, luxury firms are tailoring products to the Middle Kingdom.

Asia's Rising Pop Star Does a Guest Turn on 'Glee'

As any would-be American Idol knows, taking on a song by Whitney Houston or Celine Dion can be the kiss of death. The songs are so demanding that contestants often find themselves in the judges’ firing line for attempting one. So when 15-time Grammy Award–winning producer David Foster says the 18-year-old Filipino singer Charice reminds him of a young Dion, the industry takes note. Foster knows what he’s talking about: he produced the French Canadian Dion’s debut English album, Unison. “Charice reminds me of when I saw Celine 20 years ago,” he says. “In my opinion, she will put the whole of Asia on the map as a huge global superstar.”

Chinese Artists to Reimagine Top Luxury Brands

Painstakingly sewing shards of broken pottery recovered from ancient archeological digs, Li Xiaofeng creates “porcelain clothing” few would ever wear. Until now. Some of these works caught the attention of John Storey, the worldwide director of public relations for Lacoste, when he saw them displayed last November at the hip Beijing hotel The Opposite House. Storey recognized a great marketing opportunity, and commissioned the up-and-coming Chinese artist to create two iconic artworks.

East Transforms West in Chinese Opera

"The Legend of the White Snake" is one of the most famous Chinese tales. The story of a young scholar bewitched by a beautiful woman who is really a powerful white-snake demon has given rise to countless Chinese opera productions, films, and TV series. It is now also a Western-style opera performed in English that is set to tour China.

Remaking Hollywood Hits for Asian Audiences

Five years ago, Hong Kong film director and producer Peter Chan got an intriguing call from Warner Brothers: would he be interested in remaking The Bridges of Madison County with Chow Yun-Fat reprising Clint Eastwood’s role and Chinese actress Gong Li stepping in for Meryl Streep? Chan thought transposing the action to China would work, but he couldn’t spend the time on development, so nothing happened.

A Conversation With the Director of Carnegie Hall

Since becoming executive and artistic director of Carnegie Hall five years ago, Sir Clive Gillinson has transformed one of the world’s top performance venues into a center for cross-cultural and interdisciplinary exchange. He has also created new educational programs, including a fellowship that offers public-school students access to high-level music education. He spoke with NEWSWEEK’s Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop in Singapore, where he was attending Live! Singapore, a new international trade event for the performing-arts industry.

Chinese Art Collectors Revive the Classical Market

During the mid-2000s, Chinese contemporary art rose to world attention, with political pop and cynical realist works by artists like Yue Minjun and Zhang Xiaogang regularly breaking records at auction. In 2008 Zeng Fanzhi's Mask Series 1996 No. 6 sold for $9.66 million at Christie's, setting a world record for a contemporary Chinese artist, and the Guggenheim Museum in New York ran a major retrospective of Cai Guo-Qiang's gunpowder works. But when the global economy shut down, China's art market faltered along with so many others. Now it's back, this time powered in large part by Chinese buyers. And unlike their Western counterparts, they are eschewing contemporary works in favor of 20th-century Chinese masters and classical ink paintings.Last year the most expensive Chinese painting sold at auction was a rare scroll by 16th-century Ming-dynasty artist Wu Bin. Bought by Liu Yiqian, a private collector from Shanghai who paid $24.8 million, Eighteen Arhats was the seventh-most...

Graffiti Art—In Singapore?

Like Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat before him, graffiti artist Daze made the move from spray-painting walls in New York to exhibiting canvases in art galleries around the world: Tokyo, Zurich, Miami, even Iowa City, Iowa. But his latest exhibition is opening in a really unexpected location: Singapore. Spray-painting is still a rare sight there, where it's still mostly associated with acts of vandalism punishable by up to three years in jail or eight strokes of the cane. Only recently a publicity stunt by the postal service involving a masked man spray-painting six mailboxes backfired when scandalized Singaporeans called the police. But a couple of weeks ago, Daze completed a commissioned giant canvas standing in front of a public outdoor amphitheater, all under the watchful—if not puzzled—glare of security guards. The piece (a woman's eye swimming in a sea of colorful words) is now installed in a shopping center, protected by a rope.Singapore hardly rivals New York or London...

Shopping: Where No Women Dare to Tread

Some luxury brands have always catered exclusively to either men or women—think Dunhill, Ermenegildo Zegna, and Brioni for men or Jimmy Choo and Christian Lacroix for the ladies. But most are happy to promote their stores as emporiums for both sexes. Yet just as some educators believe that single-sex classrooms are better for learning, some luxury brands are finding that single-sex boutiques boost the bottom line. While it's not exactly a man's world on Main Street, luxury brands are increasingly offering greater exclusivity in men-only shops.The trend took off two years ago, when the Hankyu department store opened in Osaka, Japan, with its entire 16,000 square meters of floor space devoted to masculine products from shoes to cigars. Soon after, Louis Vuitton opened its first men-only store inside Hankyu, replete with leather furniture, pure wool carpet, and a goatskin rug. Around the same time, the British fashion queen Vivienne Westwood, who can spot a forward-looking trend...

Publishers Look to China for the Next Bestseller

When penguin paid $100,000 for the worldwide rights to the English translation of Jiang Rong's bestseller Wolf Totem in 2005, it set a record as China's most expensive overseas book deal. The tale of a Beijing student sent to work as a shepherd in Inner Mongolia during the Cultural Revolution went on to bag the first Man Asian Literary Prize in 2007. It has officially sold more than 2 million copies in China—and many more bootlegged ones—making it the country's second biggest seller after Mao Zedong's Little Red Book. Internationally, the novel is China's best performing translated fiction. But even worldwide sales "in the six figures," according to Penguin, are relatively modest compared with international bestsellers like Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner, which has sold more than 10 million copies to date.In recent years, China has increasingly flaunted its soft power, winning notice for its bold contemporary art and epic films featuring flying swordsmen. But when it comes to...

Hollywood Discovers Korea's Talented Actors

In the late 1990s a Korean wave washed over Asia. From TV soap operas and movies to pop music, the region couldn't get enough of Korean culture and its good-looking stars. But the wave never quite reached the American entertainment industry. At most, Hollywood embraced the remake of several Korean films—including The Lake Houseand, more recently, The Uninvited.Lately, however, ethnic Korean actors have started to gain traction in American film and TV. Kim Yunjin and Daniel Dae Kim broke through when they were cast in Lost in 2004, followed by Sandra Oh in Grey’s Anatomy and James Kyson Lee in Heroes. This year Korean-American heartthrob Daniel Henney appeared in X-Men Origins: Wolverine as the villainous Agent Zero, and now stars on the new CBS medical drama Three Rivers. Lee Byung-hun took on the role of Storm Shadow in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. And John Cho, who played Hikaru Sulu in Star Trek, is currently starring as an FBI agent in ABC's drama FlashForward.Next up: Jeong Ji...

Auction Houses Look to Asian Collectors

The contemporary-art market is not much more robust in Asia than it is anywhere else. But in other genres, Asian buyers are showing some surprising muscle, snatching up pieces that Western buyers have shunned and creating a lone bright spot in an otherwise bleak market. Collectors from mainland China continue to bid aggressively on imperial artworks and porcelains viewed as heirlooms that must be repatriated. At Sotheby's New York auction last month, Asian buyers took all but one of the top 10 lots; at Christie's, 14 of the top 20 went to Asians. An Asian buyer spent $362,500 on a 12th- or 11th-century B.C. bronze food vessel, which Christie's had estimated at $20,000 to $30,000, while a rare imperial zitan stand and cover, also estimated at $20,000 to $30,000, went for $1.42 million.Asian buyers are proving to have deep pockets in new auction categories: those associated with a high-end lifestyle. Asian oenophiles, demonstrating an educated palate and an appetite for rare wines,...

Yachting Goes Green

As a sport, yachting may be all about harnessing the power of the wind, but for most superyachts, that's where ecofriendliness ends. Typically, these 45-meter-plus boats guzzle huge amounts of fuel while their owners host lavish parties that require high-powered amenities like air conditioning and fancy sound systems. But the green agenda has begun to reach even these behemoths of the sea, with marine architects and designers seeking ever more innovative ways to apply conservation technologies to their vessels.When Luciano Benetton's 50-meter Tribù launched in 2007, it became the first private yacht to win the Green Star designation from the Italian classification society RINA. In order to earn the certificate, usually associated with cruise liners and oil tankers, the yacht had to meet a complex list of requirements, including special equipment for treating waste water and rubbish and the elimination of other emissions. (It didn't have to forsake its Jacuzzi, gym, or luxurious...

Making Chinese Films for the Chinese

A revolutionary runs through the busy streets of Hong Kong, pulling a rickshaw carrying Sun Yat-sen. He keeps glancing anxiously over his shoulder, on the lookout for assassins who plan to kill the future leader of the 1911 revolution. The 15-second scene, for the upcoming film Bodyguards and Assassins, is being shot not on location but on an elaborate set built on the outskirts of Shanghai. As big as 10 football fields, this full-scale replica of a section of the former British colony took a year to build, cost $5 million—a fifth of the film's budget—and includes the façades of about 200 shops and a near-exact copy of Pottinger (Stone Slab) Street.It also symbolizes a massive investment in the future of Chinese cinema. Grand historical sets—evoking everything from the Forbidden City to battles waged by various emperors—are a staple of Chinese epics. But in the past, most of those films were shot with international money for an international audience. Bodyguards and Assassins...

China's Me-Generation Artists Turn Inward

Until recently, the way Chinese artists got famous was to talk politics. The generation that grew up during the Cultural Revolution and the difficult years that followed was highly politicized and gained global recognition for its tongue-in-cheek images of Mao Zedong and Tiananmen Square, often rendered in eye-popping color. Wang Guangyi's kitschy communist-style propaganda posters incorporated iconic consumer logos, such as Coca-Cola and Porsche, and Yue Minjun mocked the fast-changing world with his paintings of large-mouthed men grinning relentlessly.Though still hot, those new-wave artists are giving way to a very different group: the "me-first" generation, whose members talk about each other and themselves. Born in the 1980s under China's one-child policy, they were still children during Tiananmen and are much less interested in politics and far more concerned with individuality. Unlike their elders, who use art to criticize the growing commercialism and inequality of post-Mao...