Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Become an informed buyer who knows how to appreciate art

In keeping with the rising political and economic stature of the country, a new breed of art collectors has emerged. Their passion and fortunes seem to have only risen along with India's booming economy. Mapping the contrasts and contradictions of the present-day scenario to better understand our art scene, renowned curator Alka Pande had stated in her introduction to ‘India Awakes’ show at Vienna’s Essl Museum:

“I live in a rapidly changing India and I am also confronted with a global culture. I ask myself whether I – as an urban Indian – can be within a single country as familiar with a rural India as with a spiritual India, with an India of the ethnic tribes with its ethnic community, a digital India, a religious India.” In backdrop of its vitality, the demand for contemporary Indian art remains high even as art market confidence has dropped as far as the European and U.S. contemporary markets are concerned.

With more than 3 million high net worth individuals (HNIs), possessing more than $1 million as estimated by the recent World Wealth report courtesy Capgemini and Merrill Lynch, Asian buyers (those from India and China, in particular) are very much in spotlight. In fact, art as an alluring asset has virtually entered into the mainstream, especially for tech-savvy younger people, who visit the portals to view not only paintings but also interactive, new media works.

The newly-rich buyers are turning to passion investment, seeking out eclectic and exclusive objects perceived to possess tangible long-term worth. A large majority of them are well-traveled business executives from software or banking industry who earn handsome remuneration. However, a vital area often ignored is due diligence regarding the ownership history. Provenance often affects its acceptability, and hence value of an artwork.

Evaluate its past history; check its origin and subsequent track record. Maintain proper documents of each work you buy. Seek assistance of specialists to determine the authenticity of a work, mostly on basis of the necessary appraisal and certification. Check whether the piece is in good condition. Know about the measures to be taken to prevent any damage to it in the future so that its value doesn’t diminish over time.

Going beyond the sheer investment angle, orientation and the process of building the knowledge base through constant interaction with curators, gallerists, dealers and artists themselves is equally vital.

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