Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What is the driving point for market: art or commerce?

As art forms have gradually diversified - video art, photography, performance art, and installations - so have their locations and audiences, mentioned a recent insightful and interesting editorial piece in The Times of India publication. While, discussing whether the blurring of line between art and commerce is justified, it made the following points:

The contemporary Indian art market has transformed beyond recognition in the last decade. Gone are the days when artists would dig a lonely furrow, or scan an uncertain future, scouting around for patrons and money. Today, India's vibrant art world is ready to compete with the best in the international arena. That's because commercialization and branding have acted as catalysts for creativity.

Globalization of the art market has propelled our artists on to the international stage. Exhibited and sold in foreign markets, their clientele has widened in an internationalized art collection scene. Their works find takers in top galleries and auction houses, alongside items from emerging economies like Brazil or China. In this exciting background, artists like T V Santhosh, Atul Dodiya, Jitish Kallat or Subodh Gupta have transgressed artistic boundaries, experimenting with forms as well as material.

In India, exhibitions and fairs have taken art out of museums and to the masses. Breaking down barriers between 'high' and 'low' art, such events have popularized art among the general public. Once seen as esoteric, the art world's being opened up and democratized. The culture of acquiring artwork too is no longer limited to the privileged few. Moreover, even tribal art and artisanal traditions have gained from the push of commercialization, which has brought them to the attention of appreciative buyers. Why, then, view art and commerce as mutually exclusive?

With affordability being the bottom line in a volatile market marked by extreme swings in the last few years, once viewed as a dilettante's passion or an elitist fad – contemporary Indian art is now firmly entrenched in the popular imagination.

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