Kishore Singh is one of the most valuable resources on Indian art. On Forbes India he extends his role as indispensable guide to cover the collectors. Here is a broad tour of India’s top collectors and some of the many record prices they’ve set. You’ll see Ambanis and Mittals but also other, lesser-known names, including Sangita Jindal (above) and Malvinder Singh (below.) But for sheer longevity and willingness to set the price curve, we have to quote from the entry for Kiran Nadar:
With some of the most talked-about works of modern and contemporary art in their collection, which grew so large that some of it had to be put into storage, the Nadars commissioned the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA) in January 2010. While they’re still scouting for a permanent address for the museum, Kiran has become one of the key figures of the Indian art world as much for her clout as for the purported size of her purse, which she wields on the museum’s behalf.
First blood: “I commissioned MF Husain, and bought works by Manjit Bawa and Rameshwar Broota; all three works are still in the house.”
Most exciting acquisition: KNMA’s bids for SH Raza’s seminal work Saurashtra (at Rs 16.5 crore, the most expensive painting by an Indian) and Bharti Kher’s The Skin Speaks a Language of its Own (a record for the artist at Rs 6.5 crore) at auctions drew global attention; but “I have to say Line of Control by Subodh Gupta has been my most exciting, recent acquisition.” The installation, with the artist’s leitmotif utensils in the form of a nuclear explosion, was first exhibited at London’s Tate Modern, and adorns the entrance of KNMA.
The museum: “People need to be exposed to art; I had a collection that was worth sharing, so planning a museum was logical.”
Changing perspective: Kiran no longer collects art intuitively but to fill in the gaps in her collection. “I don’t think from a personal point of view anymore, but from that of KNMA.”
Shiv Nadar’s role: “He’s not involved in the art aspect, but he’s supportive—very supportive—especially financially, without which this wouldn’t fly.”
India’s Rich are Tasteful Art Collectors Too (Forbes India)