He’s known to be the owner of more than 2,000 artworks, most of them by Indian artists. Around 800 of them are pieces of rare Indian folk and tribal art. He’s the only collector in India who’s known to have acquired large sculptural installations and video installations, and preserved them in his own house in South Delhi.
Thirty-three-year-old Anupam Poddar is a formidable name among art collectors today. Like many of this growing ilk, Poddar is a recluse. He’s known not to interact much even with gallerists, and commissions works himself.
For the first time, 60 works from Poddar’s private collection are on display at the DaimlerChrysler Contemporary in Berlin. It includes two installation works by Subodh Gupta, a watercolour by Atul Dodiya from his iconic 1999 series on Gandhi, works by Jyothi Basu, Anita Dube, Probir Gupta and video installation artist Shilpa Gupta. The display is part of an ongoing series by DaimlerChrysler, the car giant, that has its own collection in Berlin, of 1,300 works by German and international artists. This show is the fourth in a series titled Private/Corporate, in which the company ties up with private collectors from all over the world for exhibitions.
According to the gallery, the show has already attracted thousands of people. “Our cooperation with Poddar started on a two-week visit to Mumbai and Delhi (in 2005), arranged by Mumbai-based gallery owner Ranjana Steinrucke… and the collection convinced us with the breadth of its interest and an extraordinarily active collecting policy that is not averse to risk,” writes Renate Wiehager from the corporate art department of DaimlerChrysler AG, in the exhibition catalogue, introducing the works.
Poddar’s interest in art isn’t old. He was away from India for seven years, while he completed his A-levels and graduation in London and worked in Paris, Madrid and New York as a banker. Meanwhile, his mother, Lekha Poddar (the family owns the Devigarh Hotel in Rajasthan and paper factories in Chennai), began collecting art. “After I returned and the family moved to a new house, I realized that the works that the family had collected didn’t fit in well with my part of the house, so I began collecting on my own,” says Poddar in an interview with the DaimlerChrysler Contemporary. Now, among his most outlandish possessions is a hut made of cow dung by artist Subodh Gupta.
Poddar’s home in South Delhi
Chennai-based artist A. Balasubramanium, whose quirky installations of half-heads in fibreglass got Poddar interested, says that all Indian artists who work on a large scale would aspire for Poddar’s patronage. “Although the profile of the art collector has changed, very few are willing to take risks and able to take risks. Poddar is a collector willing to share a lot of his space with the works he collects,” he says.
A pink fibreglass cow on his terrace, a beeping video installation by Shilpa Gupta occupying a room, one of Ravinder Reddy’s large tribal woman heads (famous after one from the series fetched Rs1.3 crore at Christie’s auction in New York in March) in his dining room and canvases hanging on every wall—the Private/Corporate show, on till 3 June, has tried to replicate the surreal interiors of the Poddar home.
And gallery owners at home say that he is working towards an art foundation-cum-museum in Delhi, which will be open to the public. “The whole world is looking at private collections. Apart from curiosity factor, these shows push boundaries of art appreciation. The association will add value to Anupam’s collection,” says Ranjana Steinrucke of Gallerie Mirchandani+Steinrucke in Mumbai.
We love these private collections of Indian art
The family collection of the R.P. Goenka group of companies is the most coveted collection of miniatures in India. Harsh Goenka, who is the CEO of the group, developed an interest in art when his father asked him to catalogue the family collection. Later, he started the RPG Academy of Art & Music that has been organizing an annual art camp at Marve Beach, Mumbai, since 1991. His initial acquisitions included works of Bikash Bhattacharjee and works on Mother Teresa; in the last seven years he has added figurative and abstract works, portraits, installation art and new media to his collection.
The Japanese food processing tycoon owns more than 1,000 works, housed in a three-storey museum near Kobe, Japan. Some of the artists who feature in his collection are Ganesh Pyne, Ramkumar, M.F. Husain, F.N. Souza, Tyeb Mehta, Nasreen Mohammed, Arpita Singh, Akbar Padamsee, S.V. Gaitonde and Laxma Goud. He also owns 400 works of Bengal artist Jogen Chowdhury. Fukuoka used to travel in India as a tourist and was introduced to modern Indian art during the 1990s. He bought more than 500 works by the mid-1990s. Fukuoma also made a successful bid for ‘Celebration’, a triptych by Tyeb Mehta, for Rs1.3 crore at a Christie’s auction in New York in 2001.
A doctor of Indian origin, Mahinder Tak and her husband, Sharad Tak, were among the first avid collectors of Indian contemporary art in the US. Their Maryland home has a collection that includes works by Mohan Lal Jain, Company artists of the 18th century, Raja Ravi Varma, Jamini Roy, Ganesh Pyne, M.F. Husain, Akbar Padamsee, Jogen Chowdhury, Manjit Bawa and Bhupen Khakhar. Tak also has a collection of more than 200 paintings by Indian women artists, including Aparna Caur, Shobha Broota, Arpita, Surinder Kaur, Prabha Shah and Shruti Gupta. Her collection has been exhibited in galleries across the US.