Christie’s Gears Up for Second Auction in India This December

Christie's first India Auction

The Business Standard talks to Christie’s Sonal Singh about the company’s future plans in India:

What next after Christie’s maiden auction in India, held last year?

We were overwhelmed by the response. We are now planning for the next auction that is likely to be held in the first half of December. The date and venue will be announced soon. The team has already started sourcing for the sale.

While last year, most of the lots were from the estate of Kekoo and Khorshed Gandhy with 30 lots from other private collectors, this year 80 to 100 lots will feature both modern and contemporary works. We are in a privileged position to sell non-exportable national treasures within India. Last year we featured six of the national treasures.

Amrita Sher-Gil and the three Tagores — Rabindranath, Abanindranath and Gaganendranath — are on our wish list. The idea is to showcase the growth of Indian modern and contemporary art across the country — be it the Bengal school, the Progressives in Mumbai, the Baroda school of art and the Chennai style. The auction should be representative of all regions and schools of art prevalent in India.

The auction brought VS Gaitonde into the spotlight in the international art market. What is the international standing of Indian art?

VS Gaitonde is one of our most important art abstractionists along with Nasreen Mohamedi. It’s not easy to get a Gaitonde piece, he made only six to eight a year. Last year, we had one very early painting and another one from the 1970s. So these two represented two very different aspects of his career. We promised to loan the works to Guggenheim for the Gaitonde retrospective, no matter who bought it.

We work with museums for things like that, it is about building the art market. We also supported shows of MF Husain in London this year. As far as the international art world is concerned, India is already on the map. There is a Nasreen Mohamedi exhibition at Tate Liverpool till October 5, 2014.

Christie’s next auction in India to be held in December: Sonal Singh  (Business Standard News)

Sotheby’s: Indian Buyers Show 33% YoY Growth in Value of Purchases

Sotheby's India Photo

Robin Woodhead explains why Sotheby’s is taking their time in India focusing more on developing relationships with buyers than holding auctions in country:

Do you regret not being in Christie’s place in terms of having a sale here?

No. I don’t think that we need to hold auctions to be successful in the Indian market and the fact that we are still auctioning some of the great works of Indian art is a testimony of that. We will certainly watch the space and other auctions that are held here to see what pattern emerges out of it.

When will Sotheby’s conduct an auction in India?

We did have an auction in the 90s here. However, having said that, it (Christie’s success) does not mean that we will necessarily have a sale immediately in India. Right now we are principally focusing on connecting with collectors. We do it all the time. We make long-term commitment to the market. But, one of the facts that we are watchful of is that many of the buyers are actually from outside India.

At what rate is the number of your Indian clients growing?

Among the established collectors, we are seeing a 33% growth in the value of things they buy year-on-year. This reflects that our focus is not just on new buyers but also developing relationships with the existing ones. The new client base is also growing at an average of about 25% every year.

Sotheby’s to open India office soon, in no hurry to hold auction (Economic Times)

Should India Invite the Great Museums of the West to Build There?

India’s Kishore Singh is on holiday in Europe which gives him a good idea on how to promote interest in art at home. After all, he observes, Indian tourists are keen to visit Western museums when travelling abroad:

A logical next step would be to invite the top institutions of art to open branches in India. If Abu Dhabi can conceive of the Guggenheim and the Louvre in the sheikhdom, why can’t we have the V&A in New Delhi, the Tate Britain in Mumbai? Not only does it mean that more of their collections will get an airing, it might even provide the impetus for Indians to get into art and antiquity viewing. For now, it is almost impossible to motivate Indians to step inside a gallery or a museum in India, though they appear to have no issues when it comes to signing up for a Monet or a Turner exhibition in London or Paris.

 Queue Up for Art (Business Standard)

Wealthy Indian Families Get Dose of Reality

On the eve of the the India Art Summit, Forbes India finds a silver lining in the art market reset that so many Indian Contemporary artists experienced in the wake of the credit crisis:

Richa Karpe, director at Altamount Capital, a firm that specialises in advising rich families on investments, says that 2008 was good because it brought a sense of reality. “Every artist cannot be a collector’s item 50 years from now,” says Karpe. She says she gets scared when a family asks her to take them around and make them buy art. “It is dangerous territory to get into, as the objective is ‘how much money will I make?’.”

Dealing with the Young at Art (Forbes India)

Corporate Buyers Leading Development of Indian Primary Market

The Times of India focuses on the city of Gurgaon and its role in the development of an art market infrastructure. Coporate buyers, the newspaper suggests, are supporting artists early in their career with higher prices than have been previously paid by private buyers:

At a time when art is being looked at as an investment proposition, corporates in Gurgaon are showing keen interest in collecting artwork. The growth in the art market is being looked as the advent of ‘art corporates’, who buy art pieces from artists across the country and sell them to clients, mostly MNCs, high end hotels, hospitals and real estate companies. […] Purnna Behera, an artist from Bhubaneshwar who came to Delhi five years ago, opines that the trend is helping a number of new artists with financial support. “Earlier people only recognized a few names in the art world and preferred to buy their works. There was no place for people like us who have the talent but no platform to present and improvise our works,” said Behara, whose works are being displayed in an ongoing art exhibition at Westin Hotel.

Celebrated contemporary artist Sudhir Bhagat says corporates pay much better for his works than individual buyers. Similarly, Trilochan Anand, a Delhi based artist feels that the art market is increasingly getting organized, which has given a lot of freedom for the experiments.

City Corporates Bullish on Art Market (Times of India)

Wealthy Indians Don't Buy Art

The Wall Street Journal’s India Real Time blog has some information on Indian HNWI and their spending habits from a study by Kotak Wealth Management and Crisil Ltd. Like lots of other rich folks, they want yachts and jets:

The study estimates that India has about 62,000 super-rich households, with a total wealth of around 45 trillion rupees ($1 trillion.) This is expected to grow to 235 trillion rupees ($5.3 trillion) in five years.

“The fivefold increase in net worth and increasing propensity to spend could together have an explosive impact on (India’s) luxury goods market,” said Roopa Kudva, managing director and chief executive officer of Crisil in a press release.

The study found that a significant portion of ultra-rich people’s expenditures goes to exclusive holiday packages, often for holidays abroad. However, this expenditure is typically planned in advance and the family plays a large role in deciding the holiday location and other details, the study said. […] “Art” and “luxury writing instruments” get the smallest portion of spending from the super-rich, but these are usually the most impulsive buys.

How India’s Super-Rich Spend Their Money (IndiaRealTime/Wall Street Journal)

Embracing Art in India

The Indian Art Summit was massively successful in attracting ordinary Indians to the idea of Contemporary art. The downside to this rush to embrace art is a confusing confrontation between viewers and artworks:

Bhavna Kakar of Delhi gallery Latitude 28 found chewing gum pasted on a Rajesh Ram bronze sculpture, and a sticker on a Dilip Chobisa glass installation. Abhay Maskara of Mumbai’s Gallery Maskara said he had to guard Shine Shivan’s sculpture Cock Dump — 14 stuffed cockerel bodies mounted on a table — for two days at the summit because people would keep touching it. Subodh Gupta’s tiffin boxes on a conveyer belt were merrily rearranged by the gallery staff, without the artist’s knowledge or consent.

The crush of eager viewers is not a common occurrence at art events in India. What is common, though, is the ignorance many display when they walk into a show. “Most people are not sensitised to artwork. If there is something on display, they must touch it to see if it is real,” says Maskara. International galleries at the summit put ribbons on the floor to mark a boundary and discourage people from touching the artwork. Few in the jostling crowds heeded the suggestion. “There is a tendency to pick up anything from a table, from visiting cards to pamphlets to books on sale,” says Kakar.

Etiquette often gets trampled over in Indian cities, while people are boarding trains or impatiently waiting out queues. Turns out that it fares a similar fate at art events: people can walk into a museum and demand that they be allowed to buy art, or simply refuse to keep their distance from artwork. If they like a work of art, they go up to the artist and ask for three of the same.

The Elephant in the Room is Not for Sale (Indian Express)


India Loosens Tax Laws on Art

Thaindian reports on India’s move this week to open itself up to making art easier to repatriate:

India’s art fraternity Monday gave a huge thumbs up to the budget for 2011-12, saying it would free imported art and antiquities from the shackles of customs duties and help bring more works from abroad to the country. Culture Minister Kumari Selja also hailed the move. Selja said in a statement the concession by the government would encourage “more and more private, corporate and philanthropic organisations and individuals, to promote and popularise Indian art”.

Private parties also welcomed the budget, which removed customs duties on works of art and antiquities imported for exhibition by private promoters. Hitherto, this exemption was available only to public institutions.

The government’s move will “internationalise art in India”, said Neha Kirpal, director of the India Art Summit, the country’s biggest art fair.

Budget frees art from customs’ shackles, frat upbeat (Thaindian)


Kerala's Role in the Kochi-Muziris Biennale

India’s Business Standard explains why Kerala is the site for India’s new biennial:

The choice of Kochi as the venue is also more of a nod to its cultural landscape and the laidback feel of the Fort Kochi area than to its position as an art market, Komu explains. While it is considered to be the hub of art in Kerala, a state that has produced several renowned contemporary artists, the city has not developed a market that can be compared to the major metros. The galleries here, numbering around 10, were also hit by the downturn in prices of art, though there has been an improvement of late, says contemporary artist T Kaladharan who owns the Nanappa Art Gallery. More collectors have been visiting and buying works and several people employed in the various infotech companies around the city are also buying art, which Kaladharan attributes to an increased awareness in the younger generation about the value of art.

New Tempo for Art (Business Standard)

Delhi Wants to Build a Museum in a Power Plant

But that doesn’t make it another Tate Modern. India is just beginning to embark on the process of building museums. The country has not comparable institution to a national museum, let alone specific museum like the Tate Modern.

However, the fact that museum is meant to be housed in a de-commissioned power plant  has caused a number of international news organizations, like The Telegraph and few other international newspapers leaped all over the news:

The decommissioned Indraprastha power plant is the subject of an ambitious plan – approved by the Delhi Municiapal Authority – to launch Delhi as a capital of modern art. The cost of the project is expected to reach £70 million and will be completed in three to five years, depending on how long it takes to dismantle the power plant and make the 60 acre site safe.

It also wants to put a number of other municipal operations into the structure:

The site will also include new offices for some Delhi government departments, a bus depot for about 600 vehicles and it will be connected to the city’s new metro.

Delhi to Build Its Own Tate Modern on Banks of Yamuna (Telegraph)