Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hammer time

Express India

The auctions are here again

With a brief lull during May, it’s auction time again for two of India’s premium auction houses: Saffronart and Osian’s. Both are looking at the Moderns and the Contemporaries and offering rare works by great Masters like F N Souza, S H Raza and M F Husain. While Saffronart features 140 works by 67 artists, Osian’s is showcasing its ABC collection (Art, Books and Cinema), to accompany the Cine fan festival in Delhi.

The Saffronart auction, slotted for June 18 and 19, has remarkable works by S H Raza, from the Bindu series and his early landscapes. With a total value of Rs 27 crore, the auction hopes to set new records for the Parisian Raza.

“Geographical boundaries are dissolved through an online auction and, with the new revamped auction site, we hope to initiate many new bidders into the auction room,” says Dinesh Vazirani of Saffronart.

The new site offers an automatic update that will keep the bidder abreast of the online bidding without having to refresh pages, like ‘Live auction summary’, ‘Lots closing soon’ and ‘My auction’. This offers bidders access to monitor activity and place bids on the specific lots they are interested in with the click of a mouse.

Additionally, personalised messages on these pages let bidders know whether they are leading the bidding on a particular lot, have been outbid, and have won or lost the lots they are bidding on.

The Osian’s auction follows a tradition started in 2002 by Neville Tuli where every Cinefan festival is accompanied by an auction that is a selection of art, books and cinema memorabilia.

The cinema section of this year’s ABC auction will give cineastes the opportunity to acquire rare graphic hand-painted, printed and photographic artifacts from the world of Indian Cinema.

Film memorabilia including lobby cards, song synopsis booklets and large format hand-painted posters and lobby cards will feature auction lots dedicated to Hindi cinema unfolding over the years with films from RK Studios to K Asif’s Mughal-e-Azam to the Amitabh Bachchan classic, Sholay.

The art auction will feature lots from three sections. The first section entails premium works by the Progressive Artist Group (PAG), a Mumbai-based group formed in 1947 that features prominent artists like Souza, Husain and K H Ara.

The second section features the Cholamandal Artists, Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, with works by artists like J Sultan Ali, L Munuswamy and C Douglas. The Calcutta School offers important works by artists from the Bengal School; founder members like Nandilal Bose, Rabindranath Tagore whose works are national art treasures.

The next generation of the Bengal School is featured through paintings by Bikash Bhattacharjee, Paritosh Sen and Jogen Chowdhury, all of high quality and historical importance. With the Christie’s auction that recently concluded in New York, setting a good example of competitive bidding, one can guess that these two auctions on home turf will rake in accolades and new target prices.

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