Christie's first India sale targets domestic art collectors

Wednesday, 18 December 2013 - 3:30pm IST | Agency: PTI

Global auctioneer Christie's first auction in Mumbai seeks to tap more domestic collectors as well as engage those from outside the country to look at Indian art.

"Really the moment is ripe in a sense everyone is paying attention to India... It is India's moment and art plays a really important aspect. So, yes we want to raise recognition for Indian art from within India and from outside," Hugo Weihe, International Director Asian Art told PTI in an interview.

The auction house is offering a total of 83 works of modern and contemporary art from some of top Indian artists like M F Husain, Tyeb Mehta, S H Raza, Amrit Shergil, Ganesh Pyne and Jamini Roy in the sale set for December 19 evening at the Taj Mahal Palace.

It is expecting to raise an estimated USD 6 million to USD 8 million from the sales.

Tyeb Mehta's "Mahishasura," pegged to sell between Rs 7.5 crore to Rs 9.5 crore is the most expensive work in the auction. Another Mehta work, a 1991 acrylic on canvas "Falling Figure" is estimated to fetch Rs 3 crore to Rs 5 crore. "We want to engage non-resident Indians as well as European and American collectors to look at India more," Weihe said.

The auction house has been conducting sales of Indian art in the South Asian art category in London and New York, where buyers have been mostly Indians. "Looking at our sales and statistics we can make out that a majority of the buyers i.e. over 50 per cent has been from India. Globally that is why we are operating in London and New York but now it is high time to do an auction in India itself," Weihe said.

Weihe's colleague Amin Jaffer, international director, Asian Art, said bidding for modern Indian art is driven by Indian bidding. "There is international interest in Indian art but when it comes to modern Indian art it tends to be driven by Indians whether it is international Indians or NRIs, PIOs or resident Indians. I would say the category is dominated by Indian biddings" Jaffer told PTI.

Works by six out of the nine artists considered national treasures are included in the auction. The law forbids these artworks from leaving the country. The artworks include those by Abanindranath and Gaganendranath Tagore, Nandalal Bose, Jamini Roy and Amrita Sher-Gil.

Meanwhile a total of 52 works from the personal collection of the Mumbai-based gallery owners the late Kekoo and Khorshed Gandhy, are the centre piece of the auction.

An intimate Untitled (Family Portrait) of the Gandhy's by M F Husain is valued at Rs 25 lakh to Rs 35 lakh. A early landscape by Vasudeo S Gaitonde painted in 1949 estimated at Rs 8 lakh to Rs 12 lakh is the first lot in the upcoming sale.

An oil painting "Benaras" by Ram Kumar from the 1960s has been pegged to fetch between Rs 3 crore to Rs 4 crore. S H Raza's 1976 canvas Matheran has been estimated at Rs 1 crore to Rs 1.5 crore.

"The auction also tells the story of the last 100 years of modernism in India and. We hope to inspire many engage many more collectors and inspire them so it is a big step for us," Hugo Weihe said.

The Mumbai auction follows first sale by Christie's in mainland China in September which raked in a total of USD 25 million in sales of an array of categories including art wine and watches. It exceeded the estimated USD 16 million. 

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