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Indian art market hits peak 2008 figures – modern art favoured

Posted by artradar on July 27, 2010


For some time now, the Indian art market has been reviving after the post-2008 buying slump. New Delhi-based journalist John Elliott, who runs the current affairs blog Riding the Elephant, reports in a recent post that now it may well be on the first step towards similar pre-2008 peak figures. However, the artists raking in money this time around are not contemporary but modern Indian artists.

In June this year, Sotheby’s raised USD7.9m in a mostly Indian art sales. In the same month, Saffronart sold art worth USD6.7m, and together with a Christie’s two day sale of USD18.1m, Indian art sales for the month of June totaled a substantial USD32.7m.

Rabindranath Tagore. Portrait of a woman.

Rabindranath Tagore's 'Portrait of a Woman' sold for over USD461,000 at Sotheby's.

Elliott reports that ArtTactic, a London based art market analysis firm believes that average auction prices and volumes for modern Indian art are now back to levels seen at the market’s peak in June 2008. Anders Peterson, who runs the firm, adds that,

The return in the confidence for the Indian art market is at the high end of the market.

A significant change from the trends of 2008 is the consistent sales of established veteran artists of Indian modern art rather than contemporary artists. However, given the overall push in the performance of the market, contemporary sales have also picked up. ArtTactic reports that previously popular contemporary artists such as Subodh Gupta and Jitish Kallat are still lagging far below 2007-2008 prices.

Saffronart founder and owner Dinesh Vazirani agrees with ArtTactic’s line on modern art. He says,

Auction prices are reasonably close to their 2008 peak. Serious collectors are there and this is backed with confidence in the Indian economy and with people investing as a hedge against inflation.

But how much do these results tell us about trends in buying Indian art? Anders Peterson from ArtTactic believes that,

Auctions are now a filtered version of the reality in the art market. Lots that are likely to sell are works of high quality, rarity and outstanding provenance. Works that do not demonstrate these qualities are still selling at lower prices or not at all. Therefore the return in confidence is at the high end of the market.

SH Raza. Rajasthan.

SH Raza's 'Rajasthan'.

The highlight of the Sotheby‘s sale were the works of Indian modernist painter, poet, philosopher and Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore, while Saffronart relied on modern art veterans like S.H. Raza, who was part of the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group and now lives in Paris. His wife, Janine Mongillat, died in April 2002.


Related Topics: Indian art, Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group, market watch- auctions

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6 Responses to “Indian art market hits peak 2008 figures – modern art favoured”

  1. saguna said

    very good piece of analytical summary of auctions. especially the comparison of modern masters and contemporary artists. just one thing, at the end of the article, it is mentioned: ” S.H. Raza, who was part of the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group and now lives in Paris with his wife, who is also an artist”:::

    Mr. Raza’s wife died in April 2002.

    but the article is brilliant . keep it up . looking forward to more articles

    • artradar said

      Thank you for your positive response to this article, saguna. You are correct in saying that Mr. Raza’s wife passed in 2002 and we have amended this article accordingly. Thank you again. It’s great when readers can help us ensure our content is accurate.

  2. Jing Daily said

    These serious collectors may begin to include more and more Chinese collectors. As they are diversifying their collections with top global artists, Indian artists are makign headway with some of the new Chinese collectors. This is particularly true with the work of Indian artist Subodh Gupta, India’s #1 artist (according to ArtTactic’s April survey of Indian art), whose solo show “Line of Control” was shown at the Arario Gallery in Beijing in 2008 and who has sold well in Hong Kong, particularly to Indonesian collectors. It is only a matter of time until Chinese collectors become a serious market for Indian art.

    • artradar said

      Thanks for your comment. It is increasingly evident that these artists are competing at an international level. And although for the Indian art market, Indian collectors remain the big buyers, a big reason for the growth of the market is the international interest in contemporary works. Thank you for sharing your link on our site.

  3. John Elliott said

    thank you for running this piece but I am not now an FT journalist though I was some years ago. I now write an independent current affairs blog, Riding the Elephant – -which is sometimes picked up by the FT. je

    • artradar said

      Thank you for letting us know, John. It’s great when readers can help us improve our content. We’ve updated the post to reflect your notes.

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