Northward bound

The Economic Times

The price curve of Indian art is shooting north in the global market because of 'increased consciousness' about it, say experts. This has been brought about by greater visibility of art and artists from the country and easy access to relevant information about Indian art from the internet, they say. "Indian art is becoming a part of international consciousness, which is why we have seen a spectacular growth in this field," Yamini Mehta, director of modern and contemporary Indian art at the London-based Christie’s, told IANS on e-mail. "Boundaries are becoming more fluid. We are seeing more Indian artists being represented in international museum exhibitions and art fairs. The exposure is helping create newer collectors who actively seek out works by the best of Indian artists to add to their collections," Mehta said. On June 11, a painting by F.N. Souza, an Indian artist who spent the better part of his life in New York, sold for $2.5 million, while an untitled painting by Tyeb Mehta (Figure in a Rickshaw) fetched 982,050 pounds setting new price records at the Christie’s auction in London. Five of contemporary artist Subodh Gupta’s works were also sold in the same auction at record prices. Gupta’s 'Bucket,' an abstract canvas with the symbolic motif of his trademark bucket, was sold for 121,250 pounds while his 'Magic Wands' and 'Cotton Wicks' were sold for 169,250 pounds and 15,000 pounds respectively. Twelve artists set new records in terms of prices at the auction in London. According to experts, Indian art in general had a higher price profile in almost every international art show this year. A New Delhi-based dealer, Nature Morte, sold a set of three sculptures by Gupta for nearly $1 million, while a painting by rising star T.V. Santosh went out to a British collector for $170,000 at the prestigious Art Basel, the largest fair of modern and contemporary art in Switzerland. Gupta’s seven-metre wide 'Triptych' sold for $1 million in the same fair. In March 2008, M.F. Husain’s ‘Battle of Ganga and Jamuna’ sold for $1.6 million in New York. Auction houses and dealers attribute the boom to growing consciousness and appreciation of According to Mehta, the new breed of collectors, who are armed with more money, are incredibly well informed. "They usually look for a combination of three factors in an art work - lineage, the artist and its freshness. "For instance, the 'The Birth' by F.N. Souza which sold for a record-breaking price of $2.5 million, had the combination of all the three: it was a large museum quality masterpiece by one of the giants in Indian art and completely fresh to the market," Mehta said. The freshness of the artwork, experts claimed, was instrumental in pushing up its price. Peter Nagy, director of Nature Morte Gallery in Delhi, which sold almost all its works at the Basel fair, says the increase in price is directly related to the demand for the works and the increased attention that the international art world is paying to contemporary art works coming out of India today.
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