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India shining, artistically

Indian art defied the recession with artworks fetching record prices at exhibitions and auctions through the year.

art and culture Updated: Jan 01, 2010 19:54 IST

Indian artists not only managed to steer clear f the recession storm that hit their counterparts in the US, UK and other countries last year, but witnessed increased confidence in Indian art in the global market.

According to the Indian Art Market Confidence survey by Art Tactic, released in November 2009, the Confidence Indicator for the Indian art market stood at 49, up from 20 in May 2009. The Modern Indian art market led the march and the market for contemporary art too emerged out of the gloom. These factors indicated that the worst could be over, according to a market research firm.

Auctions throughout the year recorded good results for Indian artworks. In December 2009, an untitled canvas by Manjit Bawa sold for Rs 1.7 crore at Saffronart’s online auction, which created a world record for the late artist.

Sotheby’s annual sale of Indian art in London on June 16 achieved Rs 16.33 crore, much above the pre-sale expectations of 1.2 million pounds (Rs 9.44 crore), while Christie’s South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art sale in London on June 10 saw a 1960 painting by MF Husain fetching a staggering Rs 3.1 crore.

Museums and galleries abroad have been exhibiting more and more of Indian artists. Inaugurated at the London’s Serpentine Gallery on December 10, 2008, Indian Highway, an exhibition of works by contemporary Indian artists, is expected to grow and develop as it tours internationally to different institutions for the next four years. It was next hosted at Oslo’s Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art and will continue there till August.
“Almost every major museum across the world is planning to showcase works from the country,” said Jitish Kallat, whose work is part of Indian Highway exhibition.

Meanwhile in early 2009, Chalo! India, the largest exhibition of Indian contemporary art in Japan, showed more than 100 works by 27 artists and artist groups from all over India. India was also a big draw at the Spanish international art fair ARCO in February, which put the spotlight on contemporary art from the country. Over 55 artists from 13 galleries across the country participated at the fair where India was the guest country under the Panorama section.

Four Indian artists — Anju Dodiya, Nikhil Chopra, Sunil Gawde and Sheela Gowda — were part of the show with 92 other artists. The show was curated by Daniel Birnbaum, festival director of the 53rd Venice Biennale in June 2009.
MF Husain and HS Raza came together after a gap of many years to show together at The Kings Road Gallery and Tanya Baxter Contemporary in London. The exhibition will continue till January 31, 2010.

And finally, the second edition of the India Art Summit saw 17 international galleries come together. Nearly 250 artworks valued at Rs 26 crore were sold and the total value of artworks on display at the fair was approximately Rs 40-50 crore. Mumbai-born British sculptor Anish Kapoor’s untitled work fetched a reported sum of over Rs 1 crore.


1. The Confidence Indicator for the Indian Art Market was at 49 in November, up by 29 points since May 2009.
2. Th Sotheby’s annual sale of Indian art in London was worth Rs 16.33 crore.
3. MF Husain’s painting fetched Rs 3.1 crore at Christie’s South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art Sale in London.