2 Jun 2009

Is the recession affecting art?

(By Nalini S Malaviya)

Now that the recession has become a hard reality and has hit the art market also significantly, one wonders if this will change the way we look at art. One reads of efforts where cadavers stripped of skin and coated with resin to preserve them are displayed as art, or when butterflies pinned on a canvas and dead animals preserved in formaldehyde solution are presented as art or when an unmade dirty bed is paraded as a work of art, one wonders what next? And, in fact, some very bizarre and sensational artworks have sold for millions of dollars at auctions. Art that generates controversy has become a surefire way to make a name.

What is amazing is that people have come up with these ideas and have managed to market it so well that they have persuaded others that it is art. And, what is more surprising is that people have not only been convinced about its credibility as a form of art, but have also spent good money on it. The fact remains that till just a few months ago practically anything and everything could be paraded as art and it would succeed in finding a gullible buyer.

Well, art happens to be one area where hype seems to play a major role. It is noticed that most people are drawn to the name of the artist rather than the artwork itself. It appears that the trend seems to be reversing, one finds that there are hardly any takers for artists such as Damien Hirst now. Prior to the recession the contemporary art market seemed to have gone completely haywire. Speculation, manipulation and hype were some of the causes that inflated the market substantially. At the moment, whether it is good judgment that is affecting the sale of such works, or whether it is a genuine lack of funds that is affecting the market - to know that one will have to wait and watch.

One hopes that in the current phase as most artists and buyers have become quality conscious there will be a change in trend for the better. However, as long as there are vested interests and a hyperactive media, hype will never go away, but surely with time buyers will become more evolved and will be able to separate art from the chaff.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Saffronart’s Summer Online Auction 2009 demonstrates renewed strength in the market with competitive bidding and 72% lots sold

· 72% of the 85 Modern and Contemporary Indian works sold, grossing a total of Rs. 10.4 crores (USD 2.2 million)

· Competitive bidding activity sees 54% of the lots exceeding their high estimates

· The auction demonstrates confidence in the Indian art market, highlighting a strong demand for high quality works with impeccable provenance and aesthetic value

· Top lots include works by V.S. Gaitonde, Subodh Gupta, M.F. Husain, Akbar Padamsee, Ram Kumar and F.N. Souza

Mumbai, June 15, 2009: Saffronart, the leading auctioneer of Modern and Contemporary Indian art, closed its Summer Online Auction 2009 with 72% lots sold. A majority of the lots saw competitive bidding, and more than half of them exceeded their higher estimates. These results highlighted the fact that competitively valued artworks of superb quality and provenance will consistently find collectors.

Within the first day of the auction several of the lots crossed their high estimates including works by Badri Narayan, A. Ramachandran and Hema Upadhyay. The competition got stronger as the auction drew to a close, with significant lots like V.S. Gaitonde’s Untitled (1984) and Subodh Gupta’s Untitled (2006) also sailing past their estimates, and lively bidding continuing till the end of the sale.

The top five lots sold in the auction were V.S. Gaitonde’s Untitled, at Rs. 1.5 crore (USD 317,400); Subodh Gupta’s Untitled, at Rs. 94.6 lakh (USD 201,250); M.F. Husain’s Untitled, at Rs. 91.50 lakh (USD 194,695), Akbar Padamsee’s Untitled, at Rs. 77.02 lakh (USD 163,875); and Ram Kumar’s Untitled at Rs. 60.5 lakh (USD 128,800).

Dinesh Vazirani, CEO and Co-founder, Saffronart, said, “This was a well curated sale with competitive estimates, and the market responded with strong demand and good results. This demonstrates a clear vote of confidence in the market from the existing collector base as well as new buyers. With 61 of the 85 lots selling, most of them above their high estimates, and a total sale of over Rs. 10.4 crores (USD 2.2 million), we see the readiness to compete for modern and contemporary Indian artworks from these collectors. The results are a re-affirmation of the recent upswing in private sales we have witnessed at Saffronart”

Minal Vazirani, President and Co-founder, Saffronart, said, “We were very pleased that we were able to host a sale where the percentage lots sold was significantly better than in recent auctions. With an average realized lot price of over Rs. 17.05 lakh (USD 36,000) as compared to Rs. 10.5 lakh (USD 21,000) in March 2009, these results indicate a change in market sentiment.

“We believe Indian art is entering a more sustainable phase of growth. It is gaining new ground in terms of the critical acclaim it is receiving at international institutions and events. We are seeing impressive representation from South Asia at prestigious international exhibitions and art fairs such as the Venice Biennale and Art Basel. This exposure is encouraging collectors to actively seek out the best of Indian art to add to their collections,” she added.

The Summer Online Auction featured 85 works by 57 modern and contemporary Indian artists. The sale saw unprecedented participation from collectors across the world, and closed with a total of Rs. 10.4 crore (over USD 2.2 million). Notable among the artists featured in the sale were V.S. Gaitonde, Ram Kumar, F.N. Souza, M. F. Husain, Akbar Padamsee, Subodh Gupta, Hema Upadhyay and Riyas Komu

Top lots at Saffronart’s Summer Online Auction, 2009:

V.S Gaitonde (Untitled)for Rs. 1.49 Cr, Subodh Gupta (Untitled)for Rs 94.50 Lakhs...