Showing posts with label Investing in Art. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Investing in Art. Show all posts

23 Aug 2013

Framing: Choosing the Right Frame for a Painting

Many readers find framing a challenge and wonder how to best frame a painting. Here are a few points to keep in mind while choosing the frame. It is important to choose a good quality frame which will not only enhance the look of the painting, but will also provide adequate support to it. These days most paintings come with a frame – when you buy one from an artist or a gallery, but these are generally a simple and a basic wooden frame. Very often, people prefer to change the frame according to their interiors. In fact, in some instances it is better to not frame the painting at all, such as when the canvas is mounted on a 2” or more of stretcher frame, or when the painting continues on the sides of the canvas. Adding a frame to the latter will spoil the beauty of the painted sides.

In case of line drawings or black and white works one can go for a simple black frame which will give it a sleek and elegant finish. A plain or a slightly textured wooden frame will suit drawings and sketches the best. The width of the frame can be chosen according to the size of the artwork.

Image courtesy artist Priti Kahar

Art on paper is usually displayed behind glass, and if necessary one can double mount them to make them appear larger. And, now that there is an additional distance between the painting and the frame, a slightly ornate option can also be used. However, do ensure that it does not clash with the colours of the painting, nor overwhelms it. The colour of the mount can be derived from the colours in the painting itself, so that new colors are not introduced in the scheme of things. However, the frame can be natural wood, dark wood or black in colour. It is important to choose a frame that will not dominate the painting, for instance, if you add a heavy embellished frame to a brightly coloured work, it may give it a cluttered look.

Oil paintings, for instance, portraits look elegant with ornate frames, but again care must be taken that the center of attention does not shift from the painting to the frame. It is not advised that oil paintings be mounted with a glass front, but they can be varnished when completely dry.
A frame that is darker in colour than the wall shade helps to delineate the space and creates a greater impact. Wide frames, for instance 4” to 6” in width, can be used to make smaller artworks prominent. These will also make them larger and more suited for bigger wall space.

Finally, always go to a good framer, who has experience in dealing with expensive artworks – the gallery or the artist can point you to one. The quality of the hardware used in framing is equally important, and can, in fact, affect the life span of the painting.

(Updated: Published earlier in Bangalore Mirror)

26 Jul 2011

Investing in art

Investing in art needs some research

With reports in the media focusing primarily on the merits of investing in art and making it appear as an attractive option for all investors, it raises a lot of questions for investors who are attracted to art as a financial investment instrument. Art can undoubtedly give huge returns in the long term, but there are many layers to it, which may not be immediately evident to nouveau buyers, but are nevertheless present and hence require a healthy understanding of the workings of the art market.
It is important to consider various aspects related to investing in art for instance, the risks associated with it, its liquidity and also how it fares against other investment assets. It is inadvisable to consider art from a purely financial investment angle; after all, it is one of the few (such as antiques and collectibles) options which has a ‘decorative’ side to it. It would therefore be rather inappropriate and superfluous to override the aesthetics and visual content of art.
One should consider investing in art only after allocating funds to conventional assets such as stocks, real estate and gold. Also, consider art as a long-term proposition and keep in mind that it may take some time to sell it off when necessary.
Most people who have made a lot of money through art are those who bought works at low prices by artists who would have then gone on to establish themselves in a big way later on. However, it is important to realize that not every artwork will appreciate considerably in the future - prices are likely to increase with time corresponding with the artist’s career but not all will show a significant change or a dramatic graph. This implies that the element of risk is probably high when buying artworks priced in the lower bracket range. Art which is priced higher and is done by established artists is a safer option in terms of investment, but requires a larger outlay from your part. It is also essential that as a buyer or investor you have some knowledge of art and understand the dynamics of the market to an extent.

25 Jul 2011

Investing in art needs some research


With reports in the media focusing primarily on the merits of investing in art and making it
appear as an attractive option for all investors, it raises a lot of questions for investors who are
attracted to art as a financial investment instrument. Art can undoubtedly give huge returns in
the long term, but there are many layers to it, which may not be immediately evident to nouveau

buyers, but are nevertheless present and hence require a healthy understanding of the workings
of the art market.

It is important to consider various aspects related to investing in art for instance, the risks
associated with it, its liquidity and also how it fares against other investment assets. It is
inadvisable to consider art from a purely financial investment angle; after all, it is one of the few
(such as antiques and collectibles) options which has a ‘decorative’ side to it. It would therefore
be rather inappropriate and superfluous to override the aesthetics and visual content of art.

One should consider investing in art only after allocating funds to conventional assets such as
stocks, real estate and gold. Also, consider art as a long-term proposition and keep in mind that
it may take some time to sell it off when necessary.

Most people who have made a lot of money through art are those who bought works at low
prices by artists who would have then gone on to establish themselves in a big way later on.
However, it is important to realize that not every artwork will appreciate considerably in the
future - prices are likely to increase with time corresponding with the artist’s career but not
all will show a significant change or a dramatic graph. This implies that the element of risk
is probably high when buying artworks priced in the lower bracket range. Art which is priced
higher and is done by established artists is a safer option in terms of investment, but requires
a larger outlay from your part. It is also essential that as a buyer or investor you have some
knowledge of art and understand the dynamics of the market to an extent.

(Published in Financial Times)

5 May 2011

Art in Home Decor

Buying art as an investment option

Now that the recession is considered to be behind us, people are once again looking at various investment options. Real estate, gold and the stock markets are taking precedence as investment avenues. Many are investing in their dream homes and are willing to spend anything between Rs 50 lakhs to Rs 1.5 crores, while others are buying their second or even third houses. There are people keen on doing up their homes to the best of their ability and are willing to spend substantial amounts on the interiors. As part of this process, homeowners are increasingly considering original artworks as an essential element of decor.
It is noticed that in such cases the prime focus is on purchasing a work of art which fits in well with the space and the interiors, rather than be driven by a purely investment motive. Although, this is a positive trend and must be encouraged, what would work better is if the buyers choose art with a right amount of emphasis on aesthetics , and at the same time consider a few points, which can contribute towards building up an art portfolio in the long run.

While buying art, you can consciously opt for original artworks (instead of reproductions or prints) by emerging artists, students or established names depending on the budget available. Drawings, limited edition prints such as etchings or serigraphs, watercolours and photographs are some of the options which are priced lower than oils and acrylics on canvas . Canvas works by students and young artists are also likely to be more affordable in comparison to paper works by senior artists.

Most people tend to buy art according to specific colour themes or motifs in an effort to coordinate with the existing decor, but this may not always be the right approach to adopt. When buying, the emphasis should always be on the quality of the artwork, while keeping other aspects in mind.

16 Mar 2011

Essential to understand markets while investing in art


For those who are looking at buying art, it is important to tread cautiously at this point in time and do a thorough background check before investing large sums of money in it. One does not want to repeat the same mistakes which were made prior to or during the boom phase. What is positive is that there is a lot of interest in art, and there are many collectors and buyers who would like to invest in art. Yet, there is a slight hesitance due to past experience , which may not have been pleasant.

One of the best ways to go about it is to empower yourself to be able to make the right judgment about artworks, artists and prices. Therefore, it only makes sense to learn more about how the art market functions, the factors that influence and affect prices, how to choose the right gallery to buy from and most importantly , how to ensure that what you are buying is at the fair market price.

One of the things that were very common a few years ago was the trend that prospective buyers, essentially young professionals with disposable income, would approach art galleries with a specific amount of say, Rs 5-10 lakhs and request them to suggest artists or to even create a portfolio. The drawback with such an idea is that although a gallery of repute would ensure that your money is invested safely with appropriate buyback options, flyby-night operators would be bound to take advantage of such an offer.

Today, it would be wiser to either approach established, reputed galleries or professionals, or to research as much as possible before buying. This way, the responsibility of decision-making is in your hands, which is not only prudent but also enhances your involvement in the whole process.

(Published in Financial Times)

29 Nov 2010

Buying art

There is no denying that there is a lot of interest in art these days. There are a number of new entrants in the form of galleries, dealers, curators and of course artists on the scene. Also, there are a number of people now who are buying art for the first time and find themselves at a loss when it comes to deciding about the artwork itself. They find themselves wondering what to buy, where to buy from, is the pricing fair, while facing a hundred other dilemmas.

One of the most important things when it comes to buying art is to make sure that you always buy from credible sources. It is imperative to set aside a budget and determine whether you are looking at buying art as a one time option or are you considering making art a part of your investment portfolio. In the latter case, you might be looking at buying several pieces spread out over a longer period of time. Very few people indulge in impulsive buys, unless the work is really affordable, but even then it helps to set aside an amount dedicated to art. In case, you are buying art to diversify your investment portfolio it might be advisable to consult a financial or investment advisor who is knowledgeable about art.

If you are visiting an art gallery either to buy or just to look at art, you need not be intimidated by the staff or the gallery ambience and make sure you ask all the right and relevant questions which can help you garner information regarding the artwork, the artist and his/her antecedents. Incidentally, people are a lot friendlier now than they were earlier, making it easier for the buyer. It is also perfectly normal to not make an on the spot judgment but to come back with an informed decision.

The track record of the artist for the last five years at the minimum can offer some insight into his/her price growth and overall demand. However, if you are in doubt then do not hesitate to take expert help, someone with the right credentials and who you can trust with your money is a good advisor.

(Published in Financial Times)

2 Nov 2010

Changing profile of art buyer

In the olden days, which some would say were the 'good old days', people who bought art did so either because they had a passion for it or to help out a friend. The last thing on their mind during those days was to make money out of it. Then, in the late nineties, it was evident that art could be seen as a viable financial investment.

That insight played a huge role in altering the mindsets of buyers and collectors, and also in changing the dynamics of the art market significantly. Buyers realised they could make a quick buck by buying and selling in quick succession, which was amply aided by the booming economy. This trend lasted till the recent recessionary period, when it became clear that just as any other market which had grown too fast too soon there were huge gaps in infrastructure and systems.

In the meantime, it had become fashionable to collect art or to be seen as a patron of the fine arts, and again, the fast-growing economy acted as a catalyst in supporting luxurious lifestyles. Art was a conversation piece and adorned the homes of all those who could afford it.

Then there was a phase where there were a number of art funds in the market catering to a clientele that was not interested in art, but only in the dividends that it could offer. However, the recent economic downturn has been an eye-opener of sorts, in many ways.

There was abundant disappointment and disillusionment, especially for those who had entered the business of buying and selling art without understanding either the art or the dynamics of the market. But it may have contributed towards a more aware and knowledgeable collector and investor base, and overall, in the establishment of a more mature market. Today, loyal collectors are continuing to buy art with a renewed focus on quality. There are a few investors in the field.

They are treading cautiously and short-term investors are wary of making the same mistakes again. The young, upwardly mobile professional is still interested but not completely convinced or confident. For all practical purposes this continues to be a transition phase and the next few months where activities will increase may help in determining how the situation unfolds.

(Published in Financial Times)

15 Jul 2010

Drawing essence of thought - The Power of Line

(By Nalini S Malaviya)
Noted artist Yusuf Arakkal presents an exhibition of drawings The Power of Line – a show curated by him that displays about 130 works. Reluctant to accept his role as a curator, Arakkal reveals that the show was conceptualized about a year ago, and although in the initial phases the plan was to include a few select artists, as time progressed the list grew from 50 artists to the present 75, who are now participating in it. The whole process was set in motion when he came across a few of his own drawings done many years ago. He then invited eminent and emerging artists from across the country to participate in this show dedicated exclusively to drawings.

NS Harsha
The exhibition endeavors to encapsulate the flow and evolution of drawing over time, regions and generations. “Most artists don’t like to work with a suggested theme; therefore the only brief that I gave them was in terms of size. They were free to give me any drawing from any phase of their career,” he explains.

A strong believer in the power of drawing as an independent medium, and superior to any form of visual art, Arakkal believes that it is the essence of thought, which is instantly translated through a line drawing. He feels, “A painting is an elaborate process, where the essentials get lost along the way and unwanted elements may creep in.”
Arakkal religiously practices the discipline of drawing every single day without fail even when he is traveling. He elaborates, “It took me some time to realize that the most important aspect of almost all visual applications is drawing. The basic structure of painting, sculpture, architecture, engineering and all that connected to visual expressions; is drawing.” He fondly recalls the days, when as a child he used to draw with pieces of charcoal behind the kitchen wall - most of those pictures were inevitably of cars! And, of the driver looming large over his territory!
Interestingly, an etching by Laxma Goud has been included to display the connect between graphics and drawing, as the artist is a well known graphic printmaker. The show is dedicated to FN Souza and KK Hebbar, both great artists of our times.
In his curatorial note Arakkal expresses, “While many of these creations are done as a guide to the final work, more often it is these drawings that in itself reincarnates as the final work of art. It is the power of those lines created in an inspirational moment which becomes the basis for the emergence of a great work in its final identity.” The results are there to see - the exhibition presents a wide spectrum of minimalist drawings, a few made with paint and brushes, and some even mixed media works. A few images here and there may strike a discordant note, but overall there is a cohesiveness that reiterates the curatorial intent.
(The exhibition continues at Galerie Sara Arakkal till July 31)

(Published in Bangalore Mirror)

23 Jun 2010

A cinematic experience

(By Nalini S Malaviya)

Shaheen Merali was in town last week for the preview of the art exhibition Cinema Verite Redux which he has curated for Gallery Sumukha. The show features works by seven national and international artists, including the Bangalore based Ravi Kumar Kashi. Merali is a curator and writer, currently based in London and Berlin, where, from 2003-8, he was the Head of Exhibitions, Film and New Media at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, curating several exhibitions. This year he has curated The 11th Hour, an exhibition of contemporary art from India/diaspora in Beijing and The Stalking of absence (vis-à-vis Iran) in Tokyo.

For Cinema Verite Redux, Merali modified the exhibition space to present an innovative display which is not often seen in the city; here he explains the concept behind the exhibition and talks about how the perception of Indian art has evolved over the years.

Artist: Charly Nijensohn

NM: This is the first time that you

have curated a show for a Bangalore gallery, how has the experience been?

SM: The experience of working with professionals in Gallery Sumukha has been precise, wonderful and an asset for working within an international setting. Bangalore itself has a wonderful sense of itself, and its ambition that seems to be gaining greater velocity within the visual arts in terms of the provision of high quality exhibition making.

NM: What were your selection criteria in choosing the artists/artworks?

SM: My selection always remains the same in making exhibitions- if a work moves my spirit and creates a sensual affinity to the work, its presence, its processes and its place in the history of art- I tend to hold onto it - as an image, as an experience and a place of communication- when the right moment arrives, a platform that can work for the (art)work, then I select it oft that moment.

NM: What is ‘Cinema Verite’ and how has it been presented through the artworks?

SM: Cinema Verite is a way of locating and recording the world, a use which has specific qualities that differ from other methods of recoding or documenting the subject. It chooses to be in proximity to the subject and a sense of uncluttered and more direct relationship therefore mediated by a lack of technology, which itself can create a distance. It is some of these and its other qualities that I use metaphorically to create a curatorial intention for this exhibition.

NM: From your observation and experience, what are the main differences in the art scene in Bangalore/ India and Berlin or London?

SM: A vast amount of difference- Bangalore has less then twenty odd spaces for the visual arts- London in contrast well over five hundred. The sheer infrastructure difference produces a vast difference in the way culture is disseminated, beyond that there are too many obvious differences, in the differences in the production of under graduate and post graduate students, art fairs, museums and the provision of studio facilities that harbour and enhance artistic praxis.

NM: In your opinion how has the perception of Indian art changed in the last decade, amongst people abroad especially non-Indians?

SM: On the whole the perception of art practice on the Indian community as a whole has very limited impact lets say in comparison to the growing relationship to film and sports culture. Within this limitation there are a few individuals who have been vocal in attempting to champion its place within the contemporary way India should and could be seen. The flurry of activity on Indian contemporary arts has started to be less present now as there is a vast fragmentation of the artists’ works within the system and therefore less evident as Indian and more as individual artists.

(The exhibition continues till July 30 at Gallery Sumukha)

- published in Bangalore Mirror

31 May 2010


Title of an Artwork

(By Nalini S Malaviya)

Have you stood before an untitled painting and wondered what it was? Most viewers find it difficult to relate to a painting when it does not have a title, especially when there is an absence of recognizable elements in it. For instance, if it is an abstract work predominantly based on the play of colors, it may become difficult to decipher the intent of the artist.

So what does a title do? It provides a contextual reference giving pointers to the meaning and purpose of the artwork. It gives a point of reference to the viewer to build his or her response and observations around it and helps in understanding the theme or the subject better. An interesting title adds substance to the painting and helps in recalling the work. It also makes the job of cataloging and documentation easier.

However, it is common to come across works that are untitled, especially when the artist does not wish to provide that reference point intentionally and would like the viewer to interpret it freely. But, yes, there are instances where the absence of title is a result of the artist not being able to arrive at a suitable one either due to the complexity of the work or lack of imagination. Incidentally, having a cryptic title or one that is completely unrelated to the art may defeat the purpose completely.

Usually titles are added once the work is complete and a crisp and clear title can make the viewer more comfortable and involved. La Gioconda by Leonardo Da Vinci is perhaps the most famous painting ever, but it is better known as Mona Lisa and the title brings instant recognition. Would you be able to relate to Michelangelo’s David, Rodin’s The Thinker or Claude Monet’s Water lilies (a series of paintings), if they were untitled! It is difficult to have the same recall value for unnamed works. Joan Miro said, “I start from something considered dead and arrive at a world. And when I put a title on it, it becomes even more alive.”

Yet, there are several paintings that were done, particularly during the abstract art movement that were deliberately left untitled, leaving it to the viewer to interpret it according to his or her own sensibilities and experiential framework. For instance, Jackson Pollack painted several canvases by dripping paint over them and these were left without a name consciously, but instead they were numbered.

(Published in Bangalore Mirror)

25 May 2010

Art Matters

(By Nalini S Malaviya)

Now that summer is here, everywhere art activities are on the decline. Fortunately in Bangalore, we are at the fag end of the warm season, but most other places across the country are feeling the heat as temperature continues to rise. As most of you must be aware by now, art exhibitions dwindle considerably in number during this period and start picking up only after June.

Recently, nothing much of interest has come my way, except for the following exhibitions, which should be worth seeing - select works by Gieve Patel at Gallery Chemould in Mumbai, The Silent Expression - paintings and prints by Kanchan Chander at Icon Art, Hyderabad, and the show Fables & History by Maya Burman and Binoy Varghese has been extended at Gallerie Nvyā in New Delhi.

I also wanted to share this little bit of information about a talk and presentation on Career in Art Education, which will be held tomorrow at Gallery BMB in Mumbai. The talk will be delivered by Phil Whittaker, Director of Sotheby’s Institute of Art, Singapore and will include an overview of the international art markets and a presentation on potential career opportunities in the global visual arts market. Sotheby’s Institute of Art organizes a number of professional courses in art throughout the year and these vary in duration from a few days to a fulltime master’s program. The reason that I have mentioned it as part of this column, even though it is not being held in Bangalore, is because I feel strongly about the lacunae in our arts education system. As I have often suggested in the past, there is a real need to revamp and upgrade our educational programs, especially those related to the art business. After all, the art business has grown phenomenally in the last decade or so, yet apart from the regular art history and painting courses, there are hardly any other programs that cater to the affiliated services linked to art, such as art advisory services or the business aspects of the art market.

Fortunately, there is a lot of discussion going on about professional courses that can be offered in conjunction with the conventional ones at a number of academic institutes, however, how many of these will get translated into reality, we will know only in the future.

(Published in Bangalore Mirror)

24 Mar 2010

Art of the Matter

As you might have noticed, several art magazines have been launched in the recent past. A couple of weeks ago, The Bombay Art Society had a formal launch of its Indian Contemporary Art Journal in the city. Today, most art magazines are available at limited venues, for instance at galleries and a few other outlets. The editor of the Indian Art Journal revealed that they plan to retail the publication through popular bookstores, which is an excellent idea as it will greatly enhance accessibility and availability.

Interestingly, at this point not a single magazine is being brought out of Bangalore. On the other hand, Mumbai, New Delhi and Kolkata have several art publications to their credit. However, what we do have are writers and artists. In fact, there are many writers from the city who contribute to these publications, (it is another matter that many of them write for most of the magazines - no exclusivity here!)

Quite a few artists have put forth the need to have a dedicated art magazine that is brought out of Bangalore. A publication such as this may give a much needed impetus to the art scene here. Even a simple online version, to begin with might be a good idea. Apart from being a source of information to people interested in art, such a publication could focus on a larger number of artists in the area – smaller shows and upcoming artists can also be profiled. A wider circulation to other parts of the country would provide greater exposure to artists and galleries.

Incidentally, the number of galleries in the city is rather limited, even though there are many artists who reside here, but end up showing their works outside, or moving out of Bangalore in search of opportunities.

The problem, I am sure is not in bringing out a magazine, which is comparatively an easy task, but in maintaining it. The logistics and financial aspects of running an entire publication is a daunting process and needs a large amount of support in order to be sustainable. However, it is eminently doable and one hopes that one of the many corporate offices in the city may take up the challenge to take on the entire responsibility or at least fund it.

(Published in Bangalore Mirror)

18 Mar 2010

Promoting the crafts

(By Nalini S Malaviya)

Most of the time, we are so involved in discussing and promoting the fine arts that we often forget those hundreds and thousands of craftsmen and artisans who create folk and tribal art, handicrafts and other hand made products. Making such products requires a tremendous amount of skill and hours of labor, and financial returns are low. In most cases, the skill and craftsmanship is passed on from one generation to the next, but because economic viability is poor, the newer generations prefer to opt for alternative sources of livelihood.

Madhubani, Pithora, Warli are just some of the folk art forms which can be used in interiors to decorate walls either through mural paintings, or smaller framed works which can be hung on walls. Incidentally, there are many corporate spaces which have integrated folk arts and crafts in their décor – either as a small mural on a cafeteria wall or as bright paintings that liven up cubicle spaces. As any form of support from individuals or organizations can make a huge difference in the growth and sustenance of this sector, proposals that address this need must be encouraged.

In this context, an initiative by the Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur, which is organizing an event Saamanjasya 2010, deserves a mention. The forthcoming three day event aims to bring various key players responsible for social and economic growth together through a series of programs from 19-21st March. During the event, artisans will participate in Kalakaar Vikas, a program which will provide a platform to artisans to display their crafts before a large audience. This is being achieved by tying up with an NGO called Saarthi, which deals specifically with the welfare of artisans. Other plans include presenting the cause of these artisans before corporates, setting up meets for funding and providing technical expertise wherever possible. Overall, it seems to be a good initiative which could greatly benefit the artisans who are participating in the program.

However, it’ll be interesting to see how the proposals translate into action and what kind of monetary and other support artisans can gain from this venture. As a prototype the proposal has its merits, and if it works well it can be replicated elsewhere on a larger scale to include a greater number of affected people. As we all know there is an urgent need to focus on the revival of traditional arts and crafts that are on the decline, and corporate involvement can make a huge difference in the overall development and sustenance of indigenous crafts of India.

(Published in Bangalore Mirror)

7 Jan 2010

The year that was

(By Nalini S Malaviya)

It’s that time of the year, once again, to look back, reflect and evaluate how the art scene progressed through the year. Art activities unfolded quite hesitantly this year with most of the auctions showing average results, while some fared very poorly, as well. Although, during the art summit, sales picked up but then became sketchy once again during the later months. Fortunately, the last Saffron Art auction which happened a couple of weeks ago, performed really well under the circumstances. The highlights of this year in terms of auction reults have to be the exceptional amounts fetched for works by Jogen Choudhury at the Sotheby’s auction and Manjit Bawa at the recently held Saffron Art auction.

In Bangalore, the art scene was quite diffident with very few exhibitions being organized by galleries. On the other hand, there was a phenomenal rise in self sponsored shows with many self taught painters exhibiting their works at rented spaces. Incidentally, most of the bigger artists preferred to defer their shows until next year or at least to the later part of this year.
In effect, one came across a lot of poor and average quality works, and repetitive ones by the same painters. Still, there were some interesting works for instance, digital collages by Sudarshan Shetty, photographs by Atul Bhalla, Gigi Scaria, Vivek Vilasini, installations by Sakshi Gupta and a few other group shows with a list of artists too long to mention here.. Interestingly, the art activity was quite feverish through the year even though sales in the primary market were practically nil. While, some galleries have started reporting an increase in sales (where buyers are primarily from outside Bangalore), others are yet to see any noticeable difference.

In a way the recession helped in putting things in perspective, for instance many artists realized the futility of compromising on quality, or how over production could lead to a lowering of their market worth. During this phase, most speculators lost a lot of money as many had hoarded art in order to create an artificial demand and to inflate prices of a few select artists. Also, investors who had bought art blindly on the advice of unscrupulous galleries and dealers, learned their lesson, albeit the hard way. One hopes that the experiences that one went through during the lean period will help buyers and investors in the future to be able to make better judgment when it comes to art.

(Published in Bangalore Mirror)

8 Dec 2009

An arts education initiative

(By Nalini S Malaviya)

It cannot be denied that arts education in our country requires the necessary impetus in order to facilitate a more holistic environment for learning. Most schools follow the archaic system of having one or two classes of ‘music’ or ‘drawing’ in a week, however these are stand alone sessions that are not really integrated with the process of learning. The integration of arts education at the school level is a matter of grave concern and to address this issue, an arts education conference is being organized by the Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan, Bangalore and the India Foundation for the Arts (IFA) later this week on 11 - 12th of December.

In the recent past, the film Taare Zameen Par, helped dramatically in creating awareness about the importance of arts in the process of learning. Although, the film highlighted the role of arts in facilitating learning in children with special needs, in fact, music, fine arts, theatre, puppetry and other creative practices are important tools that assist in the overall development of a child. And, with a little bit of an effort these can be adopted as part of the curricula in a conventional schooling system.

In the background note released by the IFA, according to the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, Paris in 2001, ‘Culture and the arts, in their broadest sense, are a critical mediatory force in the quest for understanding, empathy and dialogue between divergent thoughts, dogmas, ideologies and world-views.” This conference is an extension of Kali-Kalisu project that deals with the empowerment of school teachers through arts pedagogy training workshops, and through it the organizers hope to articulate frameworks and directions for arts education in the country. Some of the topics that will be discussed include the current legislative scenario and arts education, the structures of the arts education, arts and early childhood education, language, poetry and creativity, puppetry, music and movement arts.

In my opinion, an initiative such as this will not only help in creating the basis for supporting arts education, but also in creating wider awareness that will help in the actualization of various proposals that focus on the holistic development of every child. Legislations, children’s rights and bills, and proposals to ease pressures of examinations are all steps towards the right direction, but these have to be combined with a broader approach that stresses on the role of arts in providing quality education.

(Published in Bangalore Mirror)

7 Dec 2009

The fine art of collecting

(By Nalini S Malaviya)

Now, that once more there is an interest in art, there are people who are looking at art either as a financial investment or as a collectible. To begin an art collection it is important to identify the motives behind it. One of the main reasons why people collect art is that they are passionate about it.

There are collectors who buy representative art from various periods or they focus on a specific school, style of painting, era or artist. Again, it is important to be clear whether the collection is going to be a private one or if it could be put on public display at a later date. It is also essential to realize that an art collection, unlike one comprising of smaller collectibles needs a lot of space, and special care in terms of lighting and maintenance.

Once you have identified the kind of collection that you are looking at building, you can begin by making a list of artists or works that you wish to acquire. In fact, there are some people who might begin collecting in a small way and then get so passionate about it that they decide to convert it into a more organized and larger collection. There are some people who prefer to collect only modern art or contemporary works, or old prints or only new media works. Sometimes, the choice of the collector is governed by considerations such as budget, available space, and time required to dedicate to such an activity.

Whatever the reason behind collecting, the process of buying art can be an exciting and rewarding one. However, there will be times, when one is forced to overlook personal tastes in favor of more intelligent choices, which would benefit the entire collection as a whole.

When one is collecting art, irrespective of the initial investment, the overall value of the collection is bound to go up with time. Therefore, it is important that you do the necessary research and take the time to build one that will be significant in terms of historical content and also its financial worth.

(Published in Financial Times)

23 Nov 2009

Understanding art prices

(By Nalini S Malaviya)

Now that the art market is beginning to look up, there is a lot of interest in understanding the intricacies of the market. The pricing of artworks has been a component that often requires a greater understanding of the market dynamics in order to analyze it. And, even then it may not appear entirely rational, as it is not completely deterministic or quantifiable.
Many people fail to comprehend the logic behind art prices and their upward movement due to its multivariate nature, there are a certain amount of elements that influence it. Also, it is important realize that there is a difference between the commercial price of an artwork and its value. The price of an artwork is determined by physical attributes such as market conditions whereas the value is its perceived worth or a subjective opinion of the viewer.
Typically, the price of an artwork depends upon the medium and size of the work, previous price points, its rarity and the artist. Art prices in the primary market are driven essentially by the artist and the gallery, whereas prices in the secondary market are often driven by demand. For instance, in an auction there is a reserve price which is estimated for a given piece of work prior to the auction, and its subsequent sale price could be much higher, sometimes in multiples of the reserve price. The sale price is driven up by the demand and may be a result of competitive bidding.
It has also become common to estimate prices of an artwork based on per-square-inch / foot or centimeter. And, some auction houses tend to follow this system of computation as a basis. However, there are no standard formulae to evaluate the price or value of an artwork, and hence the discrepancies that are seen in the market.
As a buyer it would be wise to crosscheck comparative prices before making a decision, but at the end of the day, if there is a particular piece of art that you wish to own, be prepared to pay for it.
(Published in Financial Times)

10 Nov 2009

Allocate appropriate budget when investing in art

(By Nalini S Malaviya)

There are many people who would like to buy art but are unclear as to how to go about it. Lacking exposure to the world of art, they are unsure about artists, prices, which galleries to go to and the value of artworks. On the other hand, there are numerous collectors who keep succumbing to practically every new work of art. The excitement of collecting new and different works of art can even become addictive unconsciously.

There are some collectors who keep buying works from every new series of a particular artist for a variety of reasons. They either like that artist’s creations a lot, or because they know the artist personally they find it difficult to decline his latest works.
Then there are those who begin collecting in a small way, but in a few years time they get so involved and passionate about it that they find themselves unable to stop. This may happen even at the cost of their budgets going awry. With every new purchase they tend to stretch themselves, and slowly over a period of time this grows beyond control. Collecting art by well known names is a reflection of one’s status and there are many buyers who invest in them just for this purpose. Peer pressure can also be the driving factor in many cases. Then there are those collectors who are forever on the look out for newer artists and cutting edge works. They look for artists from a purely financial investment angle.

Therefore, while some may consider art as a frivolous expenditure, there are a large number of people who invest in art for various reasons. However, it is important to apportion a budget to art investment and remain within its limits. Just as you would invest a percentage of your disposable income on various conventional assets, follow the same rules when buying art, at least wherever applicable.

(Published in Financial Times)