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Rising values: Modern Indian art

Rising values: Modern Indian art

June 11 2014

  • More than 100 art pieces  auctioned
  • Rising value of Indian contemporary art works
  • New evaluations of modernist work from India, especially with New York Guggenheim retrospective of Vasudeo Gaitonde’s creations

WORK from some of India’s best known modern artists will go under the hammer today at an auction at Christie’s in London.

The sale in some ways reflects the growing clout and interest in Indian modern art, globally.

For the first time, the auction house is conducting an online sale for Indian classical art.*

Also, among the sale items is a print by Brit Anish Kapoor, former Turner prize-winner and the man behind the Orbit at London’s Olympic Park – and unquestionably, one of Britain’s best known artists.

His works, when available for purchase, can cost millions.

But you could have a Kapoor for as little as £1,500 today – as it is a print and 21 of the untitled works are in circulation.

Like many of the works to go on sale, it comes from the collection of Indian art enthusiast and supporter, Willem Baars. The Dutchman befriended many Indian artists while backpacking in India in the 1990s and brought work to Amsterdam.

Christie’s is very much hoping to build on its first ever auction of modern Indian art works in Mumbai in December.

It secured the highest price ever paid for a modern Indian art work and raised more than £12 million fromthe total sale, exceeding expectations by 100 per cent.

Vasudeo S Gaitonde’s “Untitled” from 1979 sold at that auction for more than Rs23 Crores (just over $3.7m/£2.2m {in today’s money}) – a record in dollar and rupee terms for a work by an Indian artist.

In the last ten years, the art world has become more interested in Indian artists and there has been a marked rise in the value of many works.

But why?

ACV
Deepanjana Klein, head of department (South East Asian modern and contemporary) with one of the highlights of the sale, FN Souza's 'Man & woman grinding their teeth together' (1957) est. £1m-1.5m

Dr Hugo Weihe (pictured above with MF Husain work,Untitled {Horses}“, Christie’s international director Asian Art, and international specialist head Indian art, told www.asianculturevulture.com: “It’s a good question.

“There’s more interest since the sale of Vasudeo Gaitonde’s work for $3.7m in December.

“He’s a very important artist – he did not produce many works but they are very dramatic and influential.”

Skilled in the art of what Gaitonde himself called ‘non-objective painting’ – abstract to others – he had contact with the American abstract expressionists (Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko to name just a few) and was also extremely interested in Zen Buddhism.

His reputation is likely to be sealed with the first ever major retrospective of his work to be displayed at the hugely prestigious Guggenheim in New York in October.

Titled “Painting as Process, Painting as Life”, it will enable art lovers, professional and amateur, to explore Gaitonde’s unique world.

While none of his work is available in this Christie’s sale, paintings by one of India’s best known are.

MF Husain’s “Untitled (Horses)” from 1965, is a vibrant dynamic painting of what appear to be two horses galloping at full pelt towards a black sun (lead pic).

There is currently an exhibition of Husain’s work at the V&A in London, and it runs until July 27.

Dr Weihe said the horses piece was “visually very strong” and illustrated Husain’s lifelong fascination with animals, and horses especially.

The work is expected to sell between £180,000-£200,000 and there are other smaller, less costly works by the artist on sale too.

In the general introduction to the sale on Monday (June 9), Weihe said Husain’s death remained big shock for the art community and he was reminded that the first year anniversary of the death had just passed.

Despite being well into his 90s and in self-imposed exile in London and the Middle East, following his hounding out of India for his controversial depiction of naked Hindu deities, he was in rude good health.

“It seemed he would last forever and would be working to the very, very end.

“He had a vitality and he never lost it,” opined Weihe.

ACV
Romain Pingannaud, director head of department, Islamic and Indian art, and in charge of the India online sale, standing behind two paintings in the digital auction

He said that for a long time Indian contemporary art had been not been at the same level of interest as its classical counterpart.

Art collectors and enthusiasts delighted in the miniature works of the Mughals but since the 1990s, something had began to change he explained.

“It started with Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) in America who began to look (at contemporary art) in a new way.

“It was very much about knowing their heritage.”

At the turn of this century, $100,000 was an extremely high price to pay for an Indian painting and in 2005 for the first time an Indian art work “Mahishasura” by Tyeb Mehta from 1996 was sold for more than £1m.

Since then there has been a steady rise in the value of Indian art work.

Christie’s next auction of South Asian modern and contemporary art is expected to be in Mumbai in December.

*Called “India on Paper“, it has art work from the period 1600-1800. The fortnight-long sale closes tomorrow at 2pm (June 12) and has work at a listed priced from £700 to £20,000 and is from a private collector. For more see online, https://onlineonly.christies.com/s/india-on-paper/categories/64

ACV
'Night', est £180,00-£250,000 1996 - There is growing interest in the work of Bhupen Khakhar (1934-2004) whose paintings evoke, humour, hedonism and play and give an expression to his homosexuality. Courtesy of ©Christie's Images Ltd 2014
ACV
'Untitled ('Seated Woman), by Tyeb Mehta (1925-2009), c1960, est £120,000-£180,000 Courtesy of ©Christie's Images Ltd 2014
ACV
'L'Orage ('The Tempest') 1958, by Syed Haider Raza is another highlight, est £300,000-£500,000. Courtesy of ©Christie's Images Ltd 2014

 

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture