14 Jan 2008

What to buy - painting or installation?

Even as contemporary artists continue to rule the market, new media, which incidentally is not so new any more, finds fewer takers in the domestic art market. Art lovers, especially individual collectors prefer to buy conventional art such as paintings, and sculptures - to some extent. Installations, video art, digital art although are rich in creative content and provide stimulation to the senses find fewer takers, when it comes to loosening the purse strings.

When buying art, the primary motivating factor apart from its investment potential still remains its visual appeal. Buyers look for art pieces that draw them irrevocably or those with which they feel an instant connection. What is interesting here is the diametrically opposing views that collectors or rather nouveau buyers, and investors or seasoned buyers have. It appears that new buyers tend to go for visual appeal. Whereas, buyers who have been around for some time and have already fulfilled their aesthetic instincts, then look out for creative stimuli. They are then willing to experiment and are more open to experimental work from artists as well. So, the basic difference seems to lie in the initiation period – the longer the involvement with art the greater the aptitude for newer artists and mediums. However, budget constraints always tilt the balance one way or the other.

Then again art such as installations and also large sculptures have associated physical problems that then translates into fewer sale figures. Large pieces are impossible to accommodate in cramped apartments and even average-sized houses for that matter. Buyers face the same issue with large paintings as well. Many artists indulge in creating art that is experimental in form, concept and medium fully aware that these are unlikely to be bought by any individual collector. With the Indian art market poised to create a larger impact than ever before, who knows artists might even consider coming out with a specially designed miniature line of experimental artworks that keeps in mind the urban constraints.

(Published in Financial Times)

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