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Current State of the Indian Art Market: Art’s worth the investment

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The vast scope of Indian art coincides with the culture, religion and philosophies of India. Indian art is classified into specific periods each reflecting particular religious, political and cultural developments. The Indian Art market today comprises of two major movements ‘The Moderns’ and the ‘The Contemporaries’. The Moderns are the masters, the doyens of the Indian Art Industry, a part of the cultural heritage of India’s Art History. From 1990, Indian artists began to experiment with their medium and the visual language they used in their work. Painting and sculpture remained important, but several artists found radical new directions. This formed the Contemporary Indian art movement. Contemporary Indian art has come a long way since then. Contemporary Indian art takes influence from all over the world. With many Indian artists immigrating to the west, the Indian diaspora Artists also joined the contemporary Art Movement and galleries focusing only on Contemporary Indian art started mushrooming all over the world. International investors followed. It was boom time for the Indian Art market untill 2007 in the run upto the India Shining story prevalent at the time. Top league Contemporary Artists viz, Subodh Gupta, Bharti Kher, Jitish Kallat, TV Santosh, Atul Dodiya, Anju Dodiya, NS Harsha, Riyas Komu, Justin Ponmany, Jyothi Basu, Baiju Parthan, Sudarshan Shetty had begun to fetch higher prices than their senior modern masters who had never seen such a sharp rise in prices in their entire career cycle and were threatened by the growth of the young Indians. Artists like Subodh Gupta made record sales prices at public auctions of 1.5 million USD. The time from the 1990’s untill 2007 was the golden period of the Indian Contemporary Art Movement both locally and globally. However, with the global economic slow down of 2008, the contemporary market has seen a 70% correction in price from the high of 2007 and has once again corrected close to 50% under 2007 levels in current times 2011. Many large and small galleries closed doors in ther ecent times given to the slow down. The Indian Contemporary Market seems to have lost the confidence of its new found international buyers in light of the economic slow down in the Us and Europe. People have become risk averse and hence only rare and published works of Modern Masters hold the test of time in these tough times. Masters such as Souza, Husain, Raza, Tyeb, Gaitonde, Sabavala, Akbar Padamsee, are the ones doing well as auctions and seem to sell well privately at these times. Fact is, art, from its inception, has needed champions. Earlier, the church played that role. With time, the rich and the wealthy assumed that function and, as art buying became more wide spread, the baton was passed on to large museums and influential gallerists. What Indian art currently lacks is a passionate “champion” with a vision. In the absence of such a champion, the market needs support from buyers. In the absence of govt support, the cause of champiooning the market rests with a few top gallerists. There seems to be no clear direction for the revival of the Indian Art Market in current times. This is the story of most markets as markets by their very nature move up and down. Given that most believe the Indian art market is still “in an emerging state”, the outlook for the future seems bright. All is not lost, even if it seems so temporarily. What comes down, must go up and what what goes up must come down, is the market movement. On the good side a depressed market throws up plenty of good opportunities to buy great and rare works at even better prices.


Written by Breathe Arts

September 21, 2011 at 6:30 am

Posted in General

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