“Thankfully, quality is coming back into collecting accompanied with a new drive to display private collections in public spaces. Not every Indian collector is trying to be the next Henry Clay Frick or Dominique de Menil, whose private collections are significant museums. But they are keen on sharing their newfound enthusiasm….”
This is a pertinent observation made in a recent essay, titled ‘Buyers' Market’ by Jyoti Thottam in the reputed international publication, TIME, which goes on to add: “The market has already boomed and bottomed but the serious collectors remain — and their sustained commitment is quietly transforming the Indian art world.”
Clearly, the world is the stage for contemporary Indian art. In keeping with its rising stature, a new breed of art collectors has emerged. Their passion and fortunes seem to have only risen along with India's booming economy. Significantly, the new age collectors are not spending their riches on the established masters - either of India or the West. They happen to seek out young artists including those just out of art school, and gather their works with rigorous, passionate interest.
To understand where Indian art is heading, it helps to look back, the writer notes. The fine arts in the country largely depended on royal patronage - well into the 20th century. Post-independence, the few industrialist families turned the most important collectors. Over the past decade or so, India's economic boom has created a new class of affluent professionals.
As a result, the collector base has really widened. This new burst of demand pushed up prices. Artists, too, started harboring unrealistic expectations. "Everyone wants to be Damian Hirst overnight," states art expert-collector Jai Bhandarkar. On the positive side, more Indians are being exposed to art than ever. To prove the point, Mumbai painter Papri Bose is quoted as saying, "It's almost becoming like a way of life."