Saturday, March 16, 2013

‘The Puppet Dancers’ and other milestone works

On March 19, Sotheby’s is set to host the Amaya Collection, the first ever major international Evening Sale of top Indian Art and also the first ever single-owner sale in this particular category in over a decade.

The auction of 43 lots is estimated at approx. $5 - 7 million, and the works are being exhibited in Delhi, New York and London in advance of the auction. Proceeds from it would underwrite a project space and lecture room at the renowned International Artists’ Association, Khoj, based in Delhi.

‘The Puppet Dancers’
Painted in 1963, ‘The Puppet Dancers’ (est. $200/300,000, right) represents Maqbool Fida Husain’s fascination with toys, a theme that he developed during the 1940s and 1950s. While working at the Fantasy furniture company in Mumbai in the early 1940s to make ends meet, he began to design and paint children’s toys, which he cut from plywood and hand painted.
Although Husain only produced the toys for a short period, his interest in the subject lived on. This composition is very similar to a 1950s preparatory sketch he produced for one of his plywood toys. A distinctive set of characters that he employed throughout his career are also seen in this piece: faceless woman, equine figure, tribhanga nude and mustachioed warrior. ‘The Puppet Dancers’ was on exhibition at Asia House, London, in 2006, in M. F. Husain: Early Masterpieces 1950s – 70s.
The Crucifixion
It’s a powerful painting that represents Souza’s fascination with religion that continued throughout his career. This painting is one of his largest and most evocative portrayals of the subject.
In it, Bhupen Khakar depicts a Hindu gathering with a group of male figures paying their respects. He has placed himself within the narrative, both seated amongst the seated figures to the right and at the rear of the primary standing figure in the foreground. Highly influenced by his time in London and his friendship with David Hockney and Sir Howard Hodgkin, Khakar combines the lush evocative scenery with hues relating to folk traditions.

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