Home >Mint-lounge >Features >Christie’s to host 2nd art auction in India

Mumbai: Last December, the price that a luminous yellow abstract of modernist V.S. Gaitonde fetched at Christie’s first auction held in the country, brought the under-appraised artist to the limelight in a dramatic fashion. This year, Guggenheim, New York, held a retrospective of Gaitonde that introduced the West to his meditative art.

Christie's returns to India for a second auction to be held at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai on 11 December. Christie’s has also just set up its India office in Delhi. Deepanjana Klein, international head of department, modern and contemporary Indian art, says: “Christie’s is committed to Indian art. After our first auction, there was a distinct optimism among collectors of Indian art at home and abroad. The Delhi office is another step in this direction."

This year, too, modernists top the list with the highest estimated prices. But besides the biggest and most lucrative names such as M.F. Husain, S.H. Raza, Tyeb Mehta and Gaitonde, there are other moderns including F.N. Souza whose works
have not fetched big prices since June 2008 and contemporary artists.

A series of contemporary works donated by artists to the Delhi-based Khoj International Artists’ Association are up for bidding. The money from this series will benefit Khoj.

Rabindranath Tagore, Jamini Roy, Nandalal Bose, Ram Kumar, Nasreen Mohamedi, Bhupen Khakhar, Prabhakar Barwe, Atul Dodiya and Alwar Balasubramaniam—the list is comprehensive. The two highest estimated works are Tyeb Mehta’s untitled work (Falling bull on rickshaw) from 1999 ( 8.5-12 crore) and Souza’s untitled work also known as The Indian Family from 1947.

Klein says: “Souza’s work is an immensely important work. He has a distinct political view and this being painted in the year of Independence, Souza chose to highlight the circumstances of the working class through this painting."

This was also the year Souza formed the Progressive Artists’ Group and this work is a foundation of Souza’s aesthetic and language which was to mature in the next 10 years.

Among the contemporaries, Alwar Balasubramaniam’s Gravity, an installation made with fibreglass and acrylic, is estimated at 40-60 lakh. “Balasubramaniam is represented by the Talwar Gallery and usually his works are bought by museums across the world. Rarely have his works come to the mainstream. But worldwide, collectors are interested in his works and hence this work in this auction," says Klein.

Based on her experience of Indian art in auctions, Klein’s intuitive guess is that Tyeb Mehta and F.N. Souza will be the highest selling artists at this auction.

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