Kishore Singh gives some great advice on how to deal with an art collection in times of retrenchment. He suggests you pay attention to what the leading collectors own–and what they’re quietly selling. His column also gives a nice bit of history on the influential collectors of Indian Modern and Contemporary art. But the advice applies to all categories and regions:
It is just as relevant to see the collections an artist’s work finds place in. Raja Ravi Varma would not have found success without the patronage of Maharaja Sayajirao of Baroda. In the forties and fifties, it was critics and collectors Rudy von Laden and Emmanuel Schlesinger who started amassing the works of the early modernists in India. Later, expatriate collectors such as Charles Herwitz or Kito de Boer made a great contribution in lending their support to Indian artists. Being a part of the Jehangir Nicholson collection in Bombay was a form of recognition for the artists of the sixties and seventies, just as it is important to see whether Ashok Alexander, Rajiv Savara, Harsh Goenka, Kiran Nadar or Malvinder Singh are among the elite circles of an artist’s collectors today. Even more niche collectors like Rajshree Pathy or Anupam Poddar lend recognition to an artist, and even if the market for artists collected by them takes a downturn (as in the present recession), chances are these artists will weather the long-term better than those whose works are not in such well-known collections.
For this reason, it is important to seek information not just on the works that important collectors are acquiring, but also the works they are quietly discarding. Such derostered artists, you can be sure, will not even make the footnotes of art history in a couple of decades. In London, collector Charles Saatchi makes news every time he buys an artist’s work (and he’s hot on some Indian contemporaries right now) but hits the headlines whenever he discards artists he’s collected — thereby setting off a panic reaction in the market.
Vanity References (Business Standard)