Among the treasures that were moved secretly from
The phenomenon of modern art is a little over a hundred years old in the country. Raja Ravi Varma of the Western painting style that was greatly favoured at the time by Parsis, businessmen and royal families, earned him � and his studio, with acolytes filling in for him � a large number of commissions. European painting traditions began to be taught at art schools all over the country, but artists continued to seek an identity that was Indian rather than Continental. The traumas of Partition and the lack of patronage meant that painters took a back seat for a few decades, despite the (mostly failed) attempts to form collectives that sought to achieve an intellectual renaissance.
The recent rise and rise of prices for Indian art in the domestic and international arenas is a correction, in part, of that anomaly. Domestic buying of modern art began when the ranks of the wealthy swelled in the wake of rapid economic growth. An NRI market developed soon as Indians overseas came into their own. But prices have continued to rocket, and Indian art has found new western buyers, at a time when the global economy is consumed by problems. In the developed world, art has always been a hedge against inflation, the rarity of buying power often in inverse proportion to escalating costs. No one has been quite able to explain with any degree of authority this relationship between financial markets and art prices, so it must be presumed that when times are bad, good art brings a little cheer to one's mental make-up.
Whatever the reason(s), over the last decade the spiralling interest in Indian art � among collectors in