5 Nov 2007

Is The Art Market Stabilizing?

(By Nalini S Malaviya)

In the last few months there has been a lot of interest and curiosity surrounding the art market. The past five years saw a phenomenal growth in the market where prices rocketed upwards, but then there was a stabilization of sorts recently. However, speculation continues whether the market is recovering or is the slump likely to continue for some more time. The recent held auctions by Sotheby and Christies seem to have reaffirmed faith in Indian art. In fact, the senior group of artists have performed exceptionally well, and this seems to indicate a renewed confidence in Indian art, which is likely to be substantiated in other forthcoming auctions as well.

The domestic market, too, appears to be thriving well. There seems to be a lot of emphasis on the young and upcoming artists. Artworks priced in the range of 1-5 lakhs or even as high as 10 lakhs are in the spotlight. This is especially true when these works have been done by the next generation of promising artists.

The price correction has been a leveller of sorts and has also helped in making the buyers more quality conscious. As the awareness has grown, buyers have become more demanding. The emphasis on quality strikes a welcome note. Artists now, hopefully, will be forced to slow down, pay more attention to detail as well as take their time to turn out creative works. It will also act as a filter to separate the genuine artists from the commercially-minded ones.

With more focus on the younger artists and a greater interest in the lower price range, art will also become more affordable to a wider buyer base. This by itself should give an impetus to the market, renew interest and strengthen it somewhat. Newer trends may find a larger audience. Apart from conventional artworks, newer mediums and styles may also find wider acceptance. Lower prices may continue for sometime, but it is likely to have a positive impact on the overall art market in the years to come.

(Published in Financial Times)
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