The New York Times Somini Sengupta felt the need to condescend to the Indian Art Summit by finding the “quality of works varied much more widely than at that premier New York art fair, and there was a lot less money involved.” Perhaps to make up for that bit of snobbery, she provides us with a few sketchy sale details:
One gallery owner from Mumbai said she was somewhat unprepared for what happened on preview day, before the fair opened to the public, when all three editions of a $13,000 neon light-and-acrylic piece by Tejal Shah, a young Mumbai artist, were snapped up by buyers. A New Delhi gallery sold 10 contemporary pieces, including photographs, paintings and sculpture, at prices ranging from $7,700 to $270,000.
Other dealers reported sales of contemporary Indian works for as much as $400,000. And two sold paintings by Picasso, each of which went for more than $1 million.
Zehra Jumabhoy adds a little more street-level knowledge of the scene:
Alcohol flowed freely (quite literally: Cocktails were on the house), and celebrities appeared high on art—or each other. Theorist Homi K. Bhabha paraded around with his pal Anish Kapoor, who rubbed sharp-suited shoulders with superstar Indian artists: Subodh Gupta, Bharti Kher, Vivan Sundaram, and Gigi Scaria (whose work will show up in India’s pavilion at the next Venice Biennale). The omnipresent Hans Ulrich Obrist dashed about (presumably in preparation for the KHOJ Marathon he was hosting on day two). Sheena Wagstaff of Tate Modern fraternized with art historian Geeta Kapur(diligently wielding her walking stick). Every once in a while, someone bumped into the armed security guards “protecting” M. F. Husain’s controversial paintings.
Finally, Tehelka magazine sent Yamini Deenadayalan to the fair to talk to some gallerists:
BHAVNA KAKAR, the young owner of Delhi gallery, Latitude 28, is restless at her booth. She is talking to 10 people at the same time, making makeshift business cards since she has run out of the real ones. (In three days, Bhavna sold 60 percent of the work she took to the Summit.) While waving at Thukral (or was it Tagra) sucking a juice box with a faux-naughty boy expression, she says, “After the recession, people didn’t even want to come into the gallery to look at the art, let alone buy. The speculators haven’t come back,” she says a little wistfully, “only the collectors. The speculators spend so much money even though they resell so quickly.” That passing longing for the lolly of the past. She says firmly, “For art to boom, there have to be big sales in the primary market, not at auctions.” Most gallery owners agree that collectors are once again interested in the moderns but not so much in contemporary art. Collectors cite a ‘size issue’ again.
In India, A Busy Fair and a Spirited Art Scene (New York Times)
Summit Kind of Wonderful (Scene&Herd/ArtForum)
A Booth Camp for Art (Tehelka)