A common theme around the Indian art market is the lack of infrastructure upon which the market can build. Although there are few museums in the country, there are a number of collectors. Business Standard describes one such collection that rarely sees the light of public access:
The Birla Academy of Art and Culture, Kolkata, which turns 45 this January, is celebrating the occasion with a huge exhibition of a few of the artworks painstakingly collected by Basant Kumar and Sarala Birla, the couple who founded this institution, over a lifetime.
Works collected over 60 years are on display for the first time ever on the four floors of this 11-storey building. The Academy overlooks the vast waterbed of Rabindra Sarobar.
What began in the 1940s as a humble hobby gained momentum over 10 years, to become a gigantic collection that eventually needed to be housed in its own building. “In the beginning, we were buying mostly Western art without realising that Indian art is unparalleled in excellence and that first we have to discover art from India before we go any further,” says Sarala Birla who is also the chairperson of the academy. “So, from the late 1940s we turned our attention to buying mostly Indian art. Those days, pieces of art were cheap and easily obtainable, unlike today. For example, once a month we used to visit Jamini Roy and I recall that once we bought four of his paintings for 500 rupees.”
Inside the Treasury (Business Standard)