Friday, August 17, 2012

Is art market gaining momentum?

Despite adverse global conditions, the Indian and international art auction scene gradually gathered momentum, to maintain its positive bias thus far in 2012. Here is a quick recap of two recent media reports that highlight this aspect:

A new generation of buyers emerging!
  • A sort of ‘curious dichotomy’ has gripped the auction market, marked by a sudden boom in sales art at record prices even as global economies, including those in the US, Europe and India register a slump in growth, observed The IANS news report, pointing to a new generation of buyers showing interest in art and auctions. “It’s opening up their purse strings to acquire rare and high quality artworks.
  • A quality consciousness seldom seen before is driving auction markets worldwide even as new segments of buyers - private archives and collectors - have emerged,” it added. According to Christie's international director (Asian Art), Hugo Weihe, the collector base for South Asian is gradually expanding.
  • The phenomenon is an outcome of the caution exercised by buyers after the price bubble burst, after the economic slowdown in 2008. The old masters, modernists as well as contemporary pioneers continue to command steady prices in the art auction market that is still ruled by masters like Tyeb Mehta, Raza, Souza, Manjit Bawa, MF Husain, Ram Kumar, Anjolie Ela Menon etc and legends like the Tagore brothers, Jamini Roy, and Nanadalal Bose.

  • Georgina Maddox mentioned in The India Today report that the first auction of this monsoon season had some interesting results, referring to outcome of Asta Guru Modern Indian Art, the Mumbai-based online art auction house. It indicated a few interesting trends, including a new record set for the renowned Bengal School modern artist, Hemen Mazumdar (Rs 5.3 million for ‘After Bath’, an oil-on-canvas).
  • However, it was the late Tyeb Mehta's Untitled work, (oil-on-canvas; 1969), which easily led the pack; it went for Rs 3 crore. Veteran artist S.H. Raza followed him, his ‘Akriti-Prakriti’ (oil-on-canvas; 1997), fetching Rs 2 crore. The news report elaborated, ”The second interesting fact is that a new record was established for Hemen Mazumdar (1894-1948).
  • "This is a good price for Mazumdar's work and it indicates that tastes are moving more towards old masters and classically beautiful works, People don't want to put up paintings of skeletons and grief in their living room," Vickram Sethi, the director of Asta Guru Modern Indian Art, was quoted as saying.

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