India’s Business Standard laments the country’s failure to create art institutions. Kishore Singh pays tribute to the Devi Foundation and Kolkata’s upcoming Museum of Modern Art but still excoriates India’s corporate class for its failure to found and fund the necessary infrastructure to support the billion-person nation’s artistic establisment:
Six decades after independence and nearly two decades after economic liberation, India has little to show by way of art in the public domain. According to some estimates, the USA alone has over 600 trusts and foundations that display art, mount fund-raisers to acquire more works and encourage research, while Europe has traditionally enjoyed a great capacity to divert corporate spending in this direction. Even China has managed to create a vibrant art community with museums and galleries and state-sponsored foundations that have brought contemporary art into the mainstream of Chinese life.
India’s poor record on this score is only too evident. Other than the National Gallery of Modern Art in Delhi, Mumbai and now Bangalore, or Kala Bhavan in Bhopal, a country with a population of a billion-plus simply has no stake in contemporary art. Sure, there are galleries — but their main function is transacting sales, not providing a comprehensive or even a specialised or thematic overview of the art scene in the country. [ . . . ]
Whether it is old money or new wealth — the Tatas or ITC as much as the likes of Infosys or Wipro — no one has thought to generate a corpus fund to build and house an art collection, underlining the apathy towards art in the national consciousness. We have failed to produce the Rockefeller or Onassis model of art trusts, a need that is now being felt as significant works by modern and contemporary artists find international buyers, or private collectors, as a result of which they disappear forever from public view. A vibrant art culture can be created when such art is displayed, or talked about, in the mainstream rather than just among a peer cognoscenti. Several galleries, curators and other members of the art fraternity speak of the importance of such foundations, and say the current slowdown provides the right opportunity to build corpus corporate collections at the right price, while also re-invigorating the art environment.
Art Needs a Wider Canvass (Business Standard)