Today’s NYSun writes about how art collections from India & rest of Asia gets a fresh recognition at NY Auction Houses now.
The other great economic success story on the continent is India.
Contemporary Indian art is attracting new buyers, both among nonresident Indians and collectors on the subcontinent. Traditional Indian art sales have remained steady, while 20th-century art has been picking up admirers.
Call it the attack of the billion-dollar global contemporary art market, or simply the recognition of the avant-garde’s originality by Asia’s nouveau riches.
Sotheby’s heavily emphasized its modern works in its sale of Indian and Southeast Asian art yesterday, which earned $13.6 million.This total was well above the high presale estimate of $10.7 million and set a record for the highest auction total ever for Indian and Southeast Asian art, according to the house.
The top lot of the Sotheby’s sale was Syed Haider Raza’s “Tapovan” (1972), which sold to an anonymous bidder for $1.5 million.The cover lot, Tyeb Mehta’s “Falling Figure With Bird” (1988), sold for $800,000, in line with its presale estimate. Mr. Mehta is one of the rediscovered stars of modern Indian art; his auction record of $1.6 million was set last fall at Christie’s sale of Indian art in New York.
“We’ve seen Indians buying more widely over several categories,” Sotheby’s head of Indian and Southeast Asian art, Robin Dean, said. In addition to an improving economy, they are being aided by a change in tariff law.In recent years, India has lowered its onceexorbitant import duties – to 15.5% from 40%, according to Mr. Dean – which has made buying pricey items overseas more attractive.
This year, Christie’s is breaking out its modern and contemporary Indian art into a separate catalog. Christie’s sale of Modern and Contemporary Indian art today is estimated to bring between $6.9 million and $9.4 million, which would have been a solid total for the entire field just a year ago.
Christie’s sale of traditional Indian and Southeast Asian art is expected to raise $3.9 million to $5.5 million today.
The most popular modern Indian painters come from the Progressive Artists Group, men who declared their artistic independence from academic Indian painting in 1947, the same year India declared independence from Britain.
They include Mr. Mehta, F.N. Souza, Maqbool Fida Husain, and Syed Raza, all of whom will be in the sale. Husain’s “Untitled” (1960), a Susan Rothenberg-esque painting of three horses, was originally in the collection of Italian filmmaker Roberto Rossellini, with whom Husain was friends, and is expected to sell for $150,000 to $200,000. Mr. Mehta’s “Blue Torso”
(1973) is estimated at $500,000 to $700,000.
“[Nonresident Indians] have been very successful in their fields outside of India and have for patriotic reasons supported artists of their heritage,”
Christie’s head of modern and contemporary Indian art, Yamini Mehta, said.
“There is a bit of a sea change as well that there is more awareness about art – art, too, is the ultimate status signifier.”
A separate sale of Himalayan paintings from the Jucker Collection at Sotheby’s on Tuesday achieved $9 million, well above its presale estimate of
$2.6 million to $3.8 million. The sellers were Swiss collectors who first started buying 12th-century Tibetan paintings on cloth in India. “The collecting base traditionally had been European really,” Mr. Dean of Sotheby’s said. Americans with interests in Buddhism have been joining the field over the past three decades. And now, he said, Indians are buying back this ancient art found at home as well.