It’s a whopping bumper sale. Indian art is up for grabs everywhere — from Mumbai to New York to cyberia. The month of September, which is traditionally the beginni ng of the season in the West, will see also three Indian auction houses holding their art sales. All this adds up to six mega opportunities for connoisseurs to replenish their inventory.
The stock: Between themselves, these auctions will cover a large gamut of works under the huge category of Indian art. Says Sharan Apparao, who’s holding an online auction on September 2-3, “Preparing for this auction has taught me so much about Bengal art. I didn’t have trouble sourcing the masters as the older generation of collectors is ready to reap the harvest of its treasure in the evening of life. The real problem was getting the works of younger artists who are potential wealth.” Apparao’s repertoire includes names like Rabindranath Tagore, Ramkinkar Baij, Jamini Roy, Paresh Maity and Mithu Sen among others. Christie’s lineup, which was previewed in Delhi recently, includes Tyeb Mehta, FN Souza, Atul and Anju Dodiya, etc. Besides the modern and contemporary works of art, miniatures too would go on sale in the Sotheby’s auction in New York on September 19.
The mechanics: With growing sensibilities, lay art lovers too are getting gradually educated about art mechanics. Neville Tuli of Osian’s, whose auction, Forty Masterpieces, will be held in Mumbai on September 9, says: “Since I started out in 1997-98, working in the art world has also meant changing mindsets and value systems. Out of 75 cultural disciplines in India, only the modern and contemporary art has grown this big because it has been planned systematically.”
The issues: The auctioneers are coming to terms with other issues like identifying fakes, insurance, technological application, legal pa perwork, documentation, etc. Besides appointing experts for authentication, Apparao has also applied for a patent for the technology she would use for her online auction which is developed by Altosys. Tuli feels transparency is “all about destroying the black economy. Earlier, people didn’t pay attention to the legal documents for works of art and even bought in cash. I insist on doing everything on paper.” So, is time ripe to reap a rich harvest?