Artworks by Raza, Souza, Mehta fetch record ₹181 cr | Mint

Artworks by Raza, Souza, Mehta fetch record 181 cr

Tyeb Mehta’s sculpture ‘Two Heads’ fetched  ₹14.95 crore, gaining the world auction record for a Modern Indian sculpture.
Tyeb Mehta’s sculpture ‘Two Heads’ fetched 14.95 crore, gaining the world auction record for a Modern Indian sculpture.

Summary

  • While Raza’s ‘Gestation’ fetched 51.75 crore, including commissions, making it the most expensive Indian artwork ever sold at auction, Souza’s work titled ‘Hunger’ sold for 34.5 crore, setting a world auction record for the artist

NEW DELHI : The artwork of three modern Indian masters, Sayed Haider Raza, Francis Newton Souza and Tyeb Mehta, fetched record bids at Mumbai’s Pundole’s auction house over the weekend.

While Raza’s ‘Gestation’ fetched 51.75 crore, including commissions, making it the most expensive Indian artwork ever sold at auction, Souza’s work titled ‘Hunger’ sold for 34.5 crore, setting a world auction record for the artist. Tyeb Mehta’s sculpture ‘Two Heads’ fetched 14.95 crore, gaining the world auction record for a Modern Indian sculpture. Another Mehta work, an oil on board titled ‘Bull on Rickshaw’, sold for 10 crore.

The entire auction generated over 181 crore for the gallery, including the buyer’s fee.

Gestation is an acrylic on canvas, which doubled its expected value. It is a work from 1989 and came from the Pundole family collection. Oil on canvas Hunger was sold from the collection of the Glenbarra Art Museum and was expected to fetch 12-18 crore at the auction. Mehta’s Two Heads, also from the Glenbarra Art Museum, was a sculpture from 1985 in bronze and was expected to fetch anywhere between 3 crore and 5 crore.

Art critic and curator Uma Nair said South Asia is a growing and extremely important market in terms of asset class expansion. There are second-generation buyers emerging, and younger millionaires are digging deep into their pockets.

Dadiba Pundole, the owner of Pundole’s Gallery, said it becomes clearer with each auction that works fresh to the market, with impeccable and historically relevant provenance, command a substantial premium when auctioned.

“As we have also seen in our last few sales, the market (in India) is widening and consistently giving due recognition to more modern artists that go beyond the usual suspects. All these factors indicate a healthy and robust market that is steadily growing its collector base at all levels of value," Pundole said.

Nair added that The Progressive Artists’ Group (PAG), formed in 1947 and includes all these modern Indian artists, established a close circle of friendship and encouraged each other’s works. The group also included artists M.F. Husain and Sadanand Bakre as founding members.

“There was something for everyone at this auction, be it young or old collectors. There was a bouquet of beauties on paper and canvas from the modern masters. The next sale is also going to be one to watch out for, which will be by Saffronart, where all eyes will be on the Raza, Husain, Souza and Ram Kumar’s Kashmir," she said.

This is not the first time Indian artworks have sold for exorbitant amounts. In 2020, a Vasudeo S. Gaitonde painting sold for 32 crore and an M.F. Husain oil-on-canvas work, made in 1958, went under the hammer and sold online for the first time for 18.47 crore.

Famous Indian artworks have been fetching record-breaking sums over the past year. In 2021, at its auction of Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art in London, Sotheby’s sold ‘Krishna Hotel’ by Bhupen Khakhar for £1.2 million ( 12.7 crore), six times the pre-auction estimate of £200,000-400,000. It added that Souza’s ‘Red Building’ was sold at 9.5 crore at the same auction.

That same year, eight pieces of artwork sold for close to 30 crore at the Pundole’s The Fine Art Sale. The anticipated sale of 83 lots from the collections of Nandlal Bandhopadhyay and others sold for about 42.68 crore hammer price, excluding commissions and taxes, surpassing the gallery’s expected high estimate of 24.09 crore. In 2018, British art auction house Christie’s sold another Raza work, ‘Tapovan’, for 29 crore.

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