Sunday, March 17, 2013

Christie’s keen to enhance its presence in India

People buy for several reasons—to store wealth, to surround themselves with beauty, to share it with others by publicly exhibiting it, and they all understand the core value of what they are purchasing. The way to imbibe the crux of buying art is doing your homework well.

Above observation was made by Menaka Kumari Shah of Christie's India during a recent talk on art and collecting. She stated that Indian buying was to the tune of $30 million in 2012, with most of them opting for modern & contemporary art as well as some exquisite jewelry and watches. She pointed out that buyers were getting ‘less conservative’, elaborating that it was not anymore about oil on canvas, but video art, installations and other new things, too.

Christie’s did signal its ongoing commitment to promoting the contemporary Indian art by its engagement with the latest edition of the India Art Fair that was hosted in New Delhi in January/February 2013. Amin Jaffer, their International Director (Asian Art) said: “We recognize its importance as a convening moment for all those passionate about the future of the Indian art market and are interested in India’s national artistic development.”

Christie’s further underlined its strategy by its partnership with ‘Homelands’, an exhibition of British contemporary arts from the British Council collection to tour to Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru, which opened in the capital city of India earlier this year.

Menaka Kumari-Shah elaborated that ‘The ‘Homelands’ showcased the very best art being produced by leading contemporary artists in Britain – a fitting juxtaposition to our international sales of works by their South Asian contemporaries. Both, the fair and the exhibition were opportunities for the auction house to lend support to cultural and educational opportunities that are important milestones in India’s current cultural agenda.

According to a note on the site, Christie’s has had a long association with India. James Christie, the enigmatic founder of Christie’s, offered four India pictures painted on glass in his inaugural auction in London in 1776. In 1994, it opened an office in Mumbai, the only international auction house to have a consistent presence in India, and held its first sale of contemporary Indian art the following year.

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