samedi 26 juillet 2008

India reaping boom in global art investment

New Delhi, July 24 Source : IANS
Investment in art continues to be robust globally despite the credit crisis in other financial sectors. And India is reaping the benefits of the boom as it tries to emerge as a mature market, says art investment guru Phillip Hoffman.
'The art market continues to perform strongly, exhibiting long-term growth year after year,' Hoffman, who is in his mid 40s, told IANS in an exclusive e-mail interview from London.
Hoffman, the chief executive of the Fine Art Fund Group, which is the first fund to invest in art as an asset class worldwide, is launching the Indian Fine Art Fund to cash in on the demand for Indian art by investors in the global market.
'We at the Fine Art Fund Group believe there is a high level of creativity and talent in India, which is going to make this market move even further; and with continued global exposure in 2008, we think it is the right time to invest in Indian art,' Hoffman said.
The art fund pioneer, who was the youngest member of auction house Christie's International Management Group at 33, is also credited with setting up the Fine Art Fund II and the Chinese Art Fund. He has been associated with funding and investment in international art for the last 18 years.
The current size of the global art market indicates the volume of investment it is attracting, says Hoffman who is visiting India next month to address the India Art Summit-2008.
'It is estimated that the size of the art market is $3 trillion with an annual turnover of $30 billion. However, as the market becomes more global, some predictions claim that the annual turnover will rise to $100 billion by 2012,' Hoffman said.
India, however, said Hoffman, was still in its emerging phase. 'The size of the market has grown from $2 million to approximately $400 million in seven years alone,' he said.
An expanding buyers' base is triggering the investment boom in Indian art. In the past, Indian art was purchased by rich Indians in the country and non-resident Indians abroad.
But it is now finding investors overseas, thanks to the spurt in the international exhibitions and global auctions of Asian art, Hoffman explained.
'However, we believe that the demand for Indian art is continuously growing and that the market has not yet matured. An international fair of Indian art can help boost the growth rate by directly involving the galleries and artists alike, getting collectors and investors on site. And thus generating general interest,' Hoffman said.
The Fine Art Fund Group chief believes that modern and contemporary Indian art had been undervalued as compared to other areas of the art market. But with the boom in the financial markets, real estate and other asset classes in India, many new art collectors are establishing themselves and purchasing works from artists of similar heritage, Hoffman said.
The Indian art scene, feels the investment honcho, is already global in a sense.
'It continuously attracts international buyers, dealers and auction houses. Indian art is well represented by galleries worldwide and is closely followed by collectors and investors alike. I think there is much room for growth in the Indian art market.
'Prices are rising and are much higher than they were, say, five years ago. However, compared to Western contemporary art, there is potential for a hike in prices,' Hoffman said.
Much of the investment boom in Asian art has been prompted by a new wave of investors, which includes buyers like India, China, Russia and the Middle East.
'These new geographical segments have made a powerful entrance by bringing both new artists and investors in the market,' Hoffman said.
The boom in investment and growth in the country's art market is here to stay. 'It has never been affected by recession so far and has proven to be a very stable investment option with a positive history,' Hoffman said.
According to him, the market correction of the early 1990s, which followed the art market boom of the late 1980s, was largely due to the entry of Japanese buyers, who used the market for purposes of money laundering and tax evasion.
The Japanese investors bought art works en masse and dumped it back into the market creating an artificial high.
'But that boom could not be sustained. Now, the art market is global and as such cannot be affected by any single group of buyers or investors,' Hoffman signed off, predicting a steady road ahead for investment in Indian art.

dimanche 20 juillet 2008

Art market boom benefits Christie's and Sotheby's

Source : Financial Times By Deborah Brewster Published: July 18 2008 03:00 | Last updated: July 18 2008
The boom in the art market has handed strong results to the two big auction houses, with Christie's and Sotheby's together selling about $7bn worth of artworks in the first six months of the year - 12 per cent more than last year.
Christie's said yesterday it had total worldwide sales of £1.8bn ($3.6bn), a rise of 10 per cent on the same period last year. That includes both auction sales and private treaty sales.
It sold 457 works for more than $1m each, compared with 430 sold in the same period last year.
Christie's is privately owned by French billionaire Francois Pinault, and does not provide profits or revenue. Ed Dolman, the chief executive of Christie's, said: "Christie's robust results for the first half of 2008 reflect the ongoing strength of the international art market... Christie's extensive international network has introduced an increasing number of buyers to the international art market from growth markets including Russia and the CIS States, the Middle East, India and China."
Sotheby's, which is publicly traded, said it had auction sales of $3bn in the first half.
However, it said its big contemporary art sale was held in early July, a few days after Christie's equivalent sale in late June.
If that sale were included in Sotheby's sales, the total would be $3.1bn. Its private sales will be released in August, the group said.
Christie's said Europe and the UK comprised £837m in sales, and the US £631m. Asia and the Middle East contributed £179m, and Dubai - reported separately - contributed £20m. Christie's said its growth in Asia alone was 63 per cent, as Chinese and Indian buyers emerge as increasingly big buyers of both their own art and western art.
Despite the widely reported growth in contemporary art, Impressionist and Modern works were the single biggest category at Christie's, selling £497m, just ahead of post-war and contemporary art, which contributed £408m.
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Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008

Click and tell!

Source : Deccan Herald, Banalata Bipani tracks the journey of Indian photography which has come a long way from being relatively inconspicuous to commanding big bucks in the international auctions.
First it was Indian paintings and now it is Indian photography and vintage photographs of India that’s making waves in the international art market. Photographs account for as much as seven per cent of art auction sales in 2007, although this category of art is priced at one tenth the price of paintings. During Christie’s recent contemporary Indian art sale, price of works by Indian photographers ranged from Rs Four to Rs 12.7 lakh.
Five years ago, a photograph by the famous Indian photo-journalist Raghu that fetched $100 in India, is now being valued at $10,000. Ravi Prasad, CEO and president of Himalaya group of multinationals and wife Trupti Prasad bought a 3.5 ft X 5 ft photograph of a 23-year-old relatively unknown photographer called Shibu Arakkal in Bangalore in 1999. The single edition cost the Prasads Rs 8,500. Today, Arakkal’s limited edition prints are priced Rs 50,000 upwards, not taking into account the smaller size or the single edition, as opposed to multiple editions.
Further this year the famous Osian’s Art Fund in India, run by connoisseur Neville Tuli, just acquired 45 original, silver gelatin prints by Henri Cartier- Bresson, which are a collection of photographs of Mahatma Gandhi. Apart from a 17.5 percent custom duty to bring these artworks to India, Osian’s paid British pounds 80,000 (Rs 66 lakhs) which is the highest price paid by a private institution in India for a collection of photographs.
Photography developed in Europe around the 1820s. Louis Daguerre, who perfected the daguerreotype in 1839, attracted the attention of investors with the advertised slogan: “(the) daguerreotype is not merely an instrument which serves to draw nature; (it) gives her the power to reproduce herself.” The process reached Calcutta as early as 1840, although the earliest extant daguerreotype plates date between 1842 and 1845. Photography in India is mainly credited with four ages – the 1839-1911 period when only professionals and gifted amateurs could handle the camera, 1911 to 1945, when the scientific developments of the war years made photography more gadget-oriented, and the period 1945 to 1995, when the newly introduced digital cameras changed the concept of photogrraphy.
Nurtured by eminent photographers like Deen Dayal of Hyderabad, Maharaja Ramsingh of Jaipur Indian photographers ensured that the British Era of Indian photography was well documented and photographed. Raghu Rai’s 1984 photographs of Indira Gandhi’s death and funeral stand in a long Indian journalistic tradition, as do Manish Swarup’s 2002 pictures of the effects of sectarian violence in Gujarat.
As an indicator of trends closer home, gallery exhibitions of contemporary photography in Mumbai in early 2007 boasted typical prices from Rs 5,000 to Rs 50,000 per 2’ X 3’ print, for limited editions (usually of 10 to 20 prints per image), and sold, perhaps, two to five images in a week long exhibition. In comparision, by mid 2008, the galleries are seeing prices from Rs 10,000 to Rs two lakh each, yet seeing sales of 10 to 20 images over a week.
It is important to know what the buyer must look for in investing in photograph by Indian photographers. As per the curator of New Era Art Gallery in Mumbai:
Foremost, of course, is the perceived value of the artist. Even mundane works by a celebrated photographer will command high prices.
An undamaged print, in pristine condition, ideally printed on archival quality media, mounted ideally on acid free board.
Certificate of authenticity signed by the artist, specifying the edition size and the serial number of your print.
Signed declaration by the artist of holding the copyright of the image and rights of exhibition and sale.
Copies of any required model, release property or release for images containing a recognisable model.
Maharaja Features

Christie's rides art boom in India, China

Source : Economic Times LONDON : Auction house Christie’s says it has recorded a 63% growth entirely due to the emergence of Indian and Chinese buyers of both their own art and western art. Christie’s total worldwide sales in the first half of this year amounted to £1.8 billion, a rise of 10% on the same period last year.
That includes both auction sales and private treaty sales. It sold 457 works for more than half a million pounds each, compared with 430 sold in the same period last year.
Europe and Britain comprised £837 million in sales, and the in the US £631 million, Asia and the Middle East contributed £179 million, and Dubai reported separately contributed £20 million, according to the ‘Financial Times’.
Artist records were established, including for 38 Japanese artists, 10 Indian artists, eight Chinese artists and 11 Korean artists. Ed Dolman, the chief executive of Christie’s, said in a statement: “Christie’s robust results for the first half of 2008 reflect the ongoing strength of the international art market. Christie’s extensive international network has introduced an increasing number of buyers to the international art market from growth markets including Russia and the CIS States, the Middle East, India and China.”
Asian art that went under the hammer at Christie’s in this period is worth around £139 million, making it the third biggest sales category after Impressionist and modern art worth £497 million and Post-war and contemporary art worth £408 million.
According to, the auction of South Asian Modern/Contemporary Art realised £5.4 million, the highest total for the category in London.
The auction saw 12 artist records broken with Francis Newton Souza’s ‘Birth’ (1955) selling for £1.3 million setting a record price for an Indian modern and contemporary


samedi 19 juillet 2008

Fair Ground

Source : Business Standard, Gargi Gupta / New Delhi July 19, 2008
The ShContemporary is a sign of a mature Chinese art market.
Come September, and eight galleries from various Indian cities will be travelling to the Middle Kingdom.
Their desintation, the ShContemporary 2008, or the Asia Pacific Contemporary Art Fair as it's formally called, held in Shanghai from September 10-13. This is only the second year of the fair, which was instituted as something of a meeting ground for the best of contemporary art from the East and the West.
Quite successfully, since as many as 130 galleries from 23 countries participated last year, along with dealers, curators, museum representatives, artists and visitors numbering around 25,000. The Indian presence was not inconsequential (considering that Indian galleries are relatively recent to the art-fair scene).

Four galleries — Bodhi, Chemould Prescott, Sakshi and Nature Morte; three artists in the "best of discovery" curated section, showcasing young and promising talent — Shilpa Gupta, Sharmila Samant and Ravikumar Kashi; and another three in the "best of artists" section for the more established names — Jittish Kallat, Sudarshan Shetty and Zarina Hashmi.
Sales were good says Geetha Mehra, founder of Sakshi Gallery, adding "There was a lot of energy in the air." Nivedita Magar, director with SKE Gallery in Bangalore, reports much the same.
"Many inquiries are still coming in," she says. The gallery, which specialises in new age, mixed media kind of work, was recommended for participation at the inaugural ShContemporary by Pierre Huber, a Geneva-based dealer who was artistic director of the fair (he has since stepped down after allegations of "conflict of interest").
Despite a few glitches like very high import duties — which meant Magar spent far more on transporting the art works within China than she did shipping them from India — and taxes on Chinese nationals buying foreign art, the Shanghai experience was valuable, Magar feels, "as it set off a network".
This year, the Indian contingent to Shanghai is far larger than 2007's — eight galleries, with such established names as Gallery Espace, Vadehra and Threshold, among them. The "best of discovery" section announced already has six Indians — Deeksha Nath (curator and critic), Tushar Joag, Vibha Galhotra, Ved Gupta, Sumedh Rajendran and Suhasini Kejriwal.
But there's more to the China-India art encounter in recent times than the ShContemporary. The most important here is the 2006 exhibition at the Arario gallery in Beijing, "Hungry God", which had a large selection of contemporary Indian artists like Subodh Gupta, Atul Dodiya, Tallur L N and Sonia Khurana.
Lately, these isolated encounters look set to become two way. "We already collect Chinese art and have been showing them selectively in our group shows at Sakshi," says Mehra.
In art, as in their economies, there is a tendency in the West to see the two countries together as the two Asian giants with the most "happending" art that collectors must watch out for.
To give just one example, last year's Rencontres D'Arles, arguably the most important international photography festival on the calendar, focussed on both India and China. The truth, however, is a little more complicated. While we celebrate the record $2.48 million that Souza's "Birth" recently went for at a Christie's auction, Yue Minjan's 1995 oil "Execution" went for $ 5.9 million last year at Southeby's, while the "Mask Series 1996 No.6" by Zeng Fanzhi fetched the highest price ever by an Asian artists — $9.7 million, at Christie's Hong Kong auction in May.
High prices, of course, don't mean anything. But fairs like the ShContemporary, especially the importance they are given by galleries and curators globally, show how much more mature the Chinese art market is.

vendredi 18 juillet 2008

Meet China’s top collector of contemporary art

Source : The Art Newspaper, Chris Gill | 17.7.08 | Issue 193 Guan Yi tells us about his plans to open a museum and sculpture park on a 16.5-acre plot of land in Beijing
Guan Yi, 42, has assembled the most important holdings of contemporary art in China. He comes from a family which made huge sums of money in chemical manufacturing in Qingdao but in 1997 ceded management of the family business to his brother to concentrate entirely on collecting. At the time most contemporary art was going abroad to foreign buyers and he believed that “we Chinese should recognise that this art of our time is important”.
Guan Yi believes he is collecting art as a mission, doing the work that public institutions and the Chinese government are failing to carry out. He now owns “700, maybe even 800 works” of Chinese art including pieces by Huang Yong Ping, Wang Guangyi, Zhang Peili, Wu Shanzhuan, and Yan Lei. Around one third of the collection consists of large-scale installation pieces. He says he is increasingly frustrated by the rampant speculation in the Chinese art market which is making it difficult for talented young artists to emerge today. He also sees the lack of professional art critics in China as another big problem. The tendency in China to equate high prices with art historical importance is hampering the development of significant work, he says.
Although Guan Yi prefers to stay out of the limelight, he granted us a rare interview at his warehouse in Song Zhuang, on the outskirts of Beijing, to discuss his project to build a museum for his collection as well as a sculpture park for works commissioned from international artists.

The Art Newspaper: What are your intentions for your collection?
Guan Yi: I am planning to open a large contemporary art museum in a district of Beijing called Beigao, which is between the 798 art district and the airport. The land I hope to develop is next to a space where China’s Ministry of Culture is also planning to open a contemporary art museum.
TAN: Are you working with the Ministry of Culture?
GY: No, they are doing their project independently. I am doing mine, they are doing theirs.
TAN: In China all land belongs to the government and usage rights are a complicated issue. Have you discussed this with the authorities?
GY: Yes, we have communicated, but there are some outstanding legal issues regarding the land. In China, land is not for personal use. Under present law you can only get a 20-year lease on land, so we are negotiating on this point. The amount of investment I commit to the museum will depend on the guarantees I receive from the government on this issue. We want a definite decision.
TAN: What is your idea for this private museum? There aren’t many such museums in China.
GY: I have collected a lot of installation work. What you can see here, in my warehouse, represents only 10% of my collection. One third of what I own is installation work and some pieces are more than several hundred metres in size, so to display my collection, I need a space of 15,000 sq. m. If you give these big pieces to a government museum such as the National Art Museum of China in Beijing, the Shanghai Art Museum, or the Guangdong Museum of Art, they have no place to put them. So I thought the solution was to build an art museum, not far from the centre of Beijing, something like Dia:Beacon [in upstate New York].
TAN: So Dia:Beacon inspired this project?
GY: Yes, partly, but they have converted a disused factory, whereas I will construct a new building to display my collection. I especially like the idea that I can get architects and artists to collaborate on this so the space can be designed around the works of art, to make the space fit the art. This model is new for China.I have 16.5 acres of land, and the built space cannot be more than 15% of the entire area. So a big part of the land will be used for a park which I will use to show installations. And this will be the international part of the museum complex.
For example, I admire the Serpentine Gallery in London. Hans [Ulrich Obrist] and Julia [Peyton-Jones], the co-directors, are my very good friends. When Hans visited my collection he was very excited, very moved, by what I have here. So, I would like to invite international artists to create installations for this section of the museum. Works that fit the environment, so it will become an installation park.
In a way it will also be an environmentally-themed museum. It will use solar power and other devices. Also, the transportation around the park will be powered by environmentally friendly methods. We would like to explore ways that artists can turn this into a kind of installation work. For instance, I very much like the work of the Danish artist Olafur Eliasson that was in Tate Modern [Eliasson’s giant sun, The Weather Project, was installed in the Turbine Hall from October 2003 to March 2004]. In 2003 I met him in Shenzhen, and when I saw his work in Tate Modern I wanted to buy it, but it was too expensive.
TAN: Is the museum going to be entirely funded by you?
GY: It is my personal project, my own money. The more we talk about this museum, the more I feel I should talk about the things that happened in the past which brought me to this point. In the 1980s, I was also an artist, but maybe not as modernised as other artists, I can’t paint very well.
I can’t write well either, but when I was quite young my older brother bought me a Nikon FMR. In the 1980s in China, this was an extremely good camera, so I became a photographer. That time in China was called Wenhua Autobahn, or the Culture Utopia period.
TAN: Yes, I’ve heard that in the 1980s, books were freely translated and there was a lot of information coming in from the West, even though the economy wasn’t developed. But it all ended after 4 June 1989.
GY: Yes. So I was around during that time, until 4 June. Then in 1992 or 1993, as China’s economy started developing, I went into business. I still paid attention to developments in the art world, but by then information was restricted and you couldn’t read about much in the Chinese art press. People would bring me Taiwanese art magazines, artists’ magazines and by 1997 I was already thinking about returning to the art world. But how to do it? There was no way for me to be an artist. For a while I thought of becoming an architect, but then I discovered that wasn’t so easy either. So for a long time I made a lot of plans, and attended a lot of exhibitions, events, and thought about how I could return to the art world. At the same time, I would see work I liked a lot, so I started collecting.
After I started buying art, I realised that the whole system for collecting contemporary art in China was organised for foreign buyers, everything was going abroad. No one Chinese was collecting contemporary art. This got me very excited. I thought that what I could do was come up with a method to save some contemporary art for China.
The last 30 years have been years of great change in China, in our society, in our ways of thinking. It is an immensely important period in our history. It is symptomatic of government ideology, that there was no systematic collection or protection of art and culture during this period. So I became anxious to do this. I am not being a nationalist, I just feel that we ourselves should have kept some work of this period, not others. For example, if this work is collected in Paris, and then they give it back to you or lend it to you, this is a separate thing but we Chinese should recognise that this art of our time is important.
The big problem is that the government is not collecting these works. In reality it should be the big three national art museums collecting this art, but actually they collect very few works.
I have loaned various works from my collection: after the Ullens show [Guan Yi loaned several pieces to the Huang Yong Ping retrospective which closed at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing’s 798 district in June], I am lending several works to Japanese museums—three institutions are hosting a three-month show of Chinese art. But I would now like to give this collection to the country, or more accurately, give it to society. If I say I am giving it to the country, I don’t know who that is, where do I look to find the person to give it to?
Another factor is that they will just look at my collection and say “this art is very expensive”, there’s no understanding of whether it is good or not. So no one understands its value and this is a real problem. Before my collection is handed back to the country or society, I will have to wait, until they are clearer about what it is.
There are other things that make me anxious, for instance that works of art are increasingly expensive, even young artists are expensive and it is hard to keep up. So now, when we buy things, we need to be increasingly careful to choose only the best art. There is no extra money to go and buy other things. So I only collect the work of a small group of artists, maybe around 30. There are tens of thousands of artists in China today, but I think to collect 30 to 50 artists, is enough. I think now, it’s even hard to find 30. If you were to choose ten from each decade of the last 30 years, this would be enough. And these 30 aren’t necessarily the 30 most expensive on the market.
TAN: Would you consider selling works from your collection at auction?
GY: I won’t sell at auction, but I now own 700, maybe even 800 works. So, maybe, some works are no longer as relevant to my overall collection or do not fit into my system.
TAN: Do you think there is a danger when you sell the work of a particular artist—like when Charles Saatchi was perceived to be no longer collecting an artist—that this could damage the artist’s career?
GY: Well, Saatchi stopped buying Damien Hirst’s work and Hirst is doing pretty well. Hirst is important, but his work is a bit too expensive.
TAN: So how do you choose works for your collection? Do you pay attention to what the critics say?
GY: I decide by myself [Guan Yi shows me two inscribed doorpost signs from an old temple]. These words describe how what happens outside the temple has no influence on the interior, but how being outside the temple you can still be inside the temple in your mind. You can carry the spirit of the temple with you. I pay great attention to this. I think in China, there is too much “tryism” [a combination of capitalism and trying things out to see what happens. Guan Yi points to another phrase on the doorpost].
This phrase refers to an ancient Chinese monk who went to India to study Buddhism, but what this means is we don’t have to travel to India to study Buddhism. If you are very familiar yourself with Buddhism, there is no need to travel. What I mean by this is not a kind of nationalism, many people have been here, groups from museums all around the world have visited this warehouse. But to understand Chinese contemporary art, you must understand that its history is very short, it is hard for us to know what is good and what is bad. And with the [prices achieved at] auctions recently, this makes it even more difficult, as people use this as a way of judging art. So now it is very hard to write about Chinese art. There is no education, there is no tradition, no texts. How do you get an accurate answer to any question? Who can tell you? Chinese critics? There are far too many problems with them. Too many people have become business-oriented, so you have no idea if they are telling the truth or lying. In the west, critics are clearer on the work, so the price and critical meaning are quite separate, but in China critics aren’t clear. Can we trust the national art museums? The art museums are also not clear, the market has such an influence. So, I rely on myself.
TAN: Is there anyone else who shares this desire to keep some contemporary art of China in the country?
GY: No, I am alone. I really don’t know if other people are with me or not, I don’t communicate much with others. If you look at a lot of other collectors, they are following the auction market. If you follow the auctions, then the whole thing is turned upside down. I’ll tell you a story: in 2004, just when this warehouse was finished, a lot of people, including bankers, came to visit to have a look at my contemporary art.
But after they had looked, they wanted to know: all of this work I had spent so much money on, what is it? They said, if you gave it to me I wouldn’t want it, and I would have nowhere to put it. But then, in around 2006, they got back in touch. They said they had heard these things had become extremely expensive and that they would like to come again and have another look. And I said, “no way, no way” would I let them look again. Because they didn’t understand what they were looking at. It was only when the art had a price attached to it that they paid attention to it. So, it is not about art or culture for them, it is about a capitalist way of looking.
Now, a lot of people are investing in art, it has become a kind of stock, a lot of people are paying attention to it. Capital is becomingly increasingly important in art, and you must be especially careful of it, it’s a bad influence. It’s like Marx said. I have re-read Marx and a lot of what he said is right. It is not about developing art, it’s all about the price. This means this is the most difficult, most dangerous time for art in China. To be a young artist now is increasingly difficult. In the 1980s, for example, it was easier to become a good artist.
TAN: Some young artists now sell for tens of thousands of US dollars right at the beginning of their careers. Is this dangerous for their development as artists? Maybe a Picasso can cope with this, but for most artists it is normal to go through a period of struggle, to discover what it is they want to do.
GY: Yes, although there aren’t that many like Picasso. In China a lot of young artists come up with an idea, and with that one idea they can sell several hundred pieces. In the 1980s an artist would have an idea, then do perhaps two or three works and then leave it and move on. Now it has become like a production line this idea, several hundred pieces, that idea 200 pieces…not a lot to do with art.
TAN: Many believe that the political art coming out of China is made for foreigners. Do you think it is foreigners encouraging political expression? Or is it Chinese artists painting what Westerners perceive to be Chinese, like Mao Zedong or the Cultural Revolution?
GY: I think this is a very simple question, like a child’s question. So how will I answer? These political paintings are a very small, insignificant part of Chinese contemporary art.
TAN: So which contemporary artists do you think are important?
GY: The most recent period: Wang Xingwei, Xu Zhen, Yang Fudong, Zheng Guogu, Zhou Tiehai, Yan Lei, Liu Weihua, Cao Fei, Qiu Anxiong—they all represent this time.
Translated from Mandarin by Chris Gill

jeudi 17 juillet 2008

Indian artists make big money at Sotheby's

Source : The Economic Times KOLKATA: Sotheby’s day sale of contemporary art in London has seen some Indian artists achieve tidy prices.
Raqib Shaw’s Chrysanthemum & Bee,which was estimated at £80,000-120 ,000, has been picked up for £103,250 and Anish Kapoor’s After Marsyas, with an estimate of £70,000- £90,000, has sold for £109,250.
At the same time, a Subodh Gupta Untitled (Across Seven Seas), sporting an estimate in the range of £40,000- £60,000 has been bought out for £85,250.
In the same breath, T V Santosh’s Man Made Famine and the Rats, which was pegged at an estimate of £40,000-60 ,000, has gone for £121,250. In step, an Anish Kapoor Untitled, assessed to sell between £400,000 and £600,000, has been acquired for £481,250.
In an email to ET from London, Mr James Sevier of Sotheby’s Contemporary Art department, said: “The group of works by Indian artists in our major sales of Contemporary Art in London, once again performed exceptionally well. Seven of the nine works offered realised a price that was handsomely in excess of their presale high estimate. We were particularly delighted with the new auction records established for Anish Kapoor (in the Evening Sale) and the leading Pakistani Contemporary artist Rashid Rana (in the Day Sale)."
“The positive results confirm the continued and growing international interest in the Indian contemporary art field. We’re looking forward to building on this again in our Contemporary sales in London in the autumn.”
Incidentally , Pakistan’s Rashid Rana work Veil #6, which showed an estimate of £60,000-80 ,000, shot past the presale value and went for a whopping £325,250.
The international section was led by names like Francis Bacon, Anthony Gormley, Richard Prince and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Interestingly, the Basquiat masterpiece, Untitled, from 1982-83 was sold on behalf of the rock band U2 for £5.081 million.
The painting was acquired jointly by members of the band after it was first spotted by bassist Adam Clayton at Robert Miller Gallery in New York. The band acquired Untitled in 1989, and it has since resided in their Dublin studio.
A group for 12 works from the Helga and Walther Lauffs collection performed well above expectations when they raised a total of £18.983 million against a presale estimate of £6.470- £8.930 million.

The breakdown of buyers by lots saw Europe leading the way with 49%, US at 39%, Asia 3%, with other regions in the bracket of 8%.

vendredi 4 juillet 2008

`Economies opening up do boost art prices`

Source : Business Standard Q&A/ Maithili Parekh. Kishore Singh / New Delhi July 04, 2008

London's summer of contentment has nothing to do with a delayed spring and everything to do with flourishing art prices, as record sales proceeds keep the accountants scratching their heads at the impossibility of those zeros. Sotheby's June sale of impressionist and modern art, for instance, proved to be its largest ever with a value of Rs 865.67 crore. At separate Christie's auctions, first F N Souza, then S H Raza, scaled the Rs 10-crore benchmark with works auctioned, respectively, at Rs 10.68 and Rs 10.88 crore each. And on Tuesday and Wednesday, at Sotheby's sale of contemporary art, where Indian artists rubbed shoulders with their peers from around the world, Mumbai-born, London-based Anish Kapoor set a new record for his Untitled sculpture that won a bid of Rs 16.75 crore (two other, smaller works were auctioned for Rs 4.15 crore and Rs 94 lakh respectively). At the same sale, the gavel went down for Subodh Gupta at Rs 5.17 crore, for Rashid Rana at Rs 2.8 crore, for T V Santhosh at Rs 1 crore, while Raqib Shaw fetched Rs 89 lakh and Bharti Kher Rs 65 lakh.
While Christie's has traditionally been more active in the Indian art market, Sotheby's interest has now peaked, with Mumbai-born Maithili Parekh joining the auction house in London to look after Indian and diaspora clients and, as she says, "to source works from India". As deputy director-business development, Parekh is convinced that "collectors are getting more discerning" which is why "mediocre work is not commanding premium prices" any more. She spoke with Kishore Singh at the conclusion of the contemporary sales on July 1 and 2:
Damien Hirst, Anish Kapoor and Subodh Gupta in the same catalogue — wow, have we arrived!
Including Indian works in a sale of international contemporary artists so they aren't pigeon-holed is an important step. If Western artists are considered international, so should Indian artists. Sotheby's has been the market leader in including works by Subodh Gupta, Bharti Kher, T V Santhosh alongside artists such as Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol and Francis Bacon in international contemporary auctions. Our first such auction took place in February 2008 in London. Since then we have had three more sales where the highest quality Indian art has been sold with works by international artists.
Has there ever been another period in memory when international art prices were as stratospheric as they are today?
Historically, the art market has had its price cycles but the exponential prices we are seeing today are truly remarkable. Such high prices for Indian art have never been reached before.
Why should art have such premium when nothing else — not films, music, architecture, fashion or food — comes as close?
Good art has a timeless quality to it. It represents and defines a period in the history of human civilisation. Owning such a work is priceless. The top artists of any generation are true geniuses.
How do you predict the art market for the rest of this decade?
I believe the art market will continue to flourish, bringing in fresh blood and ideas and experimenting with new media. I also believe that the artist and the collector are getting more discerning, so we are seeing better quality art being created.
There is fear that in a global world, the supply of art is drying up, hence this rush to unexploited markets in Asia.
I think new artists, fresh ideas are coming up all the time and it is critical to identify the best art and nurture it through the primary and secondary markets. In Asia, where we are witnessing a tremendous growth spurt and changes on the economic, cultural and political fronts, I believe the creative process has also received tremendous encouragement and will continue to flourish.
Why have Indian (and Chinese) artists been so late in finding recognition? Is there a correlation between the opening of these markets and the rising prices of art?
There is definitely a correlation between the Chinese and Indian economies opening up and the art of these regions being recognised. Wealth creation drives patronage of the arts, which is what we're witnessing.
The association of art is increasingly being limited to investment.
Art is being seen by certain people as an asset class but I believe it is only passion for art that can sustain a collecting tradition.
Have prices for Indian art peaked?
This is hard to predict but I do believe that Indian art prices will continue to rise. Indian art is at a much lower price point than, say, Chinese or Russian contemporary art.
What does India need to do for more art to be seen by the public?
The establishment of art foundations, museums and art educational institutions are all steps in the right direction. We need organised government funding and institutional support to make contemporary art more accessible to people at large in India.
For their money, what artists should collectors be looking at?
Younger artists are a good purchase. Buy with instinct and passion. As far as the moderns go, good works by Tyeb, Gaitonde, Husain, Raza, Souza, along with the second generation including Arpita Singh, Zarina Hashmi, Jogen Chowdhury. In the contemporaries, Jitish Kallat, Subodh Gupta, Bharti Kher, T V Santhosh, Anish Kapoor are some of the names. This list is definitely not exhaustive but a good start to collecting some well-known artists.
When can we expect Sotheby's to auction Indian art in India?
Sotheby's has no plans yet of holding auctions in India. Our clientele is global and diverse, we continue to do business with clients based in India through their participation in our London and New York salesrooms.
In this ambitious marketplace, is there room more for the modest collector?
Absolutely yes. Works by younger artists, smaller works by the masters are all good buys for the modest collector. At the Sotheby's Indian sale in London on May 2, we sold a lot of works between the £2000-5000 range.

Investors Turn to Art; Sales Make Record $1.1 Billion

Source: Bloomerg News By Scott Reyburn
July 4 (Bloomberg) -- London auction houses sold a record 558.8 million pounds ($1.1 billion) of art including fees over two weeks, with buyers coming into the market seeking to make money as other investments stalled.
The total, calculated by Bloomberg from auction house results, is the highest for Impressionist and contemporary sales in London, beating the 521.1 million pounds in February.
``There's no confidence in stock markets at the moment,'' said London dealer Alan Hobart, of Pyms Gallery. ``People have realized there's money to be made out of art.''
The auction houses' day sales of ``affordable items'' under 500,000 pounds showed continuing demand. A week ago, analysts said that the global economic slowdown and credit crunch might reduce sales for priced at less than $1 million, while billionaires such as Russia's Roman Abramovich would continue to buy trophies.
The high point of the series was the 40.9 million pounds with fees paid on June 24 at Christie's International for Claude Monet's 1919 water-lily painting, ``Le Bassin aux Nympheas.'' The price, twice the mid estimate, bid in the room by the London-based art adviser Tania Buckrell Pos, was the highest paid for an Impressionist work of art in Europe, said Christie's.
When contacted by telephone, Buckrell Pos said she could not make any comment about the nationality of her client. ``But there's no doubt that people are now treating art as an alternative asset class,'' she said.

Sale Totals
For the first time, Christie's and Sotheby's held Impressionist and contemporary auctions in successive weeks. Their contemporary sales, combined with Phillips de Pury, fetched 260.9 million pounds. February's sales were 250.1 million pounds.
The pursuit of ``passion investments'' by the world's richest individuals remains undeterred by economic volatility, said the World Wealth Report, published last month by Merrill Lynch & Co. and Capgemini SA.
Worldwide, High Net Worth Individuals spent 15.9 percent, the highest proportion, of their ``Investment-of-Passion'' dollars on fine art, said the report. The European wealthy are the most avid consumers, spending 22 percent of these dollars on art, it said.
On July 3, Sotheby's 329-lot day sale of contemporary art made 26.8 million pounds with fees against an estimate of 19.8 million pounds to 28 million pounds. Eighty-three percent of the lots found buyers.

Keeping Up
``Many new buyers are coming into the market,'' London dealer Michael Hue-Williams said in an interview. ``It's a `keeping up with the Joneses' thing. They see contemporary art at a friend's place, then they want to own some. The easiest thing to do is go along to an auction house.'' His Albion Gallery represents international contemporary artists.
``The doom mongers are wrong,'' said London-based dealer Kenny Schachter. ``Contemporary art's where the action is. It's become a commodity market like oil or copper.''
Sellers were making profits from works by emerging market favorites bought in the last three years. In May, the Pakistani- born Rashid Rana topped the ``Indian Contemporary Art Market Confidence Ranking'' by London-based research company ArtTactic.

Pornographic Photos
Rana's 2007 work, ``Veil #6'' -- an image of five women in burqas, made of thousands of tiny pornographic photos -- sold at Sotheby's to a telephone buyer for 325,250 pounds with fees. The 5-foot, 10-inch-wide photomontage, with a lower estimate of 60,000 pounds, was from an edition of five.
``The current gallery price for this type of Rana is about $60,000,'' Conor Macklin, director of London's Grosvenor Gallery said in an interview. The gallery, which specializes in Indian art, held a 2005 exhibition of works by Indian contemporary painter T.V Santhosh, who is second in ArtTactic's Indian art confidence rankings.
Santhosh's 6-foot-wide canvas, ``Man Made Famine and the Rats,'' was bought at the show for $15,000, said Macklin. At Sotheby's it sold for a twice-estimate 121,250 pounds with fees.
``The international appeal of these artists is making them fetch high prices,'' said Macklin.
James Sevier, specialist in charge of Sotheby's auction, said that more than half the lots had sold to European private buyers in his day sale.
``A lot of them buy at our evening sales and so aren't the sort of people who are affected by economic downturns,'' he said.
Christie's and Phillips experienced more mixed demand at their contemporary day sales.

New Saleroom
On June 30, Phillips only managed to sell 57 percent of the 391 lots it was offering at its new saleroom in a former mail sorting office in Victoria.
The auction, with many young Western and Chinese artists, totaled 6.3 million pounds against a low estimate of 11.2 million pounds.
When contacted by telephone, no senior specialist at Phillips de Pury was available for interview.
``It's all about presentation, marketing and getting the estimates right,'' said London dealer Gerard Faggionato, who represents the Francis Bacon Estate. ``Sotheby's were also selling more classic material.''
The following day Christie's raised 22.4 million pounds with fees from 337 contemporary lots, 67 percent of which found buyers. The presale estimate was 22.8 million pounds to 32.2 million pounds.
``Christie's had good material,'' said Schachter. ``The estimates were just too high. The market's in good health, but if you get too aggressive with prices it can be fickle.''

jeudi 3 juillet 2008

Young making it big in art markets

Source : The Economic Times Ashoke Nag
KOLKATA: In an art market which is somewhat in a state of flux, especially at the retail or gallery level, it may be interesting to check out the genre of art being acquired now and the buyer categories. While on one end, the older artists are still being acquired in step with the top crust of modernists, the bulk of buying still seems to be centered on the contemporary group of young artists.
"The first group of buyers would embrace the seasoned collectors who continue to pick up the odd Raja Ravi Verma, Hemen Mazumdar or the Tagores and some of the other Bengal School works and Jamini Roy. Other early realistic works being bought are those by Pithawala and Dhurandar, to mention a couple. But, this buyer class is shrinking since these artists can be bought largely by Indians as foreigners are not allowed by law to buy into most of them, unless they are participating in an overseas auction. At the same time, the volumes generated by these works are low because of the non-availability of quality pieces," an art market source told ET.
The second category, and what appears to be the most vibrant, are the purchases which revolve around the contemporary band of artists. "These are artists who have come up in the last 5-10 years. Fuelled by increasing demand levels abroad and backed by galleries both overseas and in India, price tags of these artists have spiralled.
The young NRI population are finding these works to be eminently investible. At the same time, many museums internationally, which are also looking for cutting-edge art, have trained their sights on a cross-section of the contemporaries from India," the source said.
According to the source, interest in this brand of artists can be gauged from the fact that a frontline gallery in London, like Saatchi, which is known for its offbeat and revolutionary shows, is staging a show of Indian contemporaries titled The Empire Strikes Back.
Leading auction houses like Christie's, Sotheby's and Bonhams overseas and Saffronart in India have, in recent times, expanded significantly on their offering of contemporary works. "In the current scenario, anywhere around 30-50 % of the total number of works in a modern & contemporary art auction belongs to the contemporary bracket," the source said.
This leaves the category which relates to the modernist artists. Here, the 'museum' grade names, like F N Souza, S H Raza, M F Husain, Tyeb Mehta and V S Gaitonde, who are in limited supply in the market, continue to attract strong demand.
However, the modern artists below the topmost layer, are in a somewhat fluid situation. With market forces impacting the art scene somewhat negatively in the last year, buyers are failing to fathom the investment value of the second or third rung of modern artists. "It's unclear now which group of artists, modernists or contemporaries, will rule the roost in the future," the source said.

Utensils cook up a Christie’s storm

Source : The Telegraph Amit Roy
London, July 1: To you and me, Subodh Gupta’s Curry 2 may look like metal bartan bought from the local bazaar for a thousand rupees or thereabouts and stacked neatly on a metal rack but last night at Christie’s in London, this piece of “installation art” fetched £301,250.
In case you haven’t got a calculator handy, that is Rs 26,091,262 — which, as the author Bill Bryson, more used to writing about astronomy, would say, is a lot of rupees.
Back in Bihar, where Gupta hails from, the traders in bartan may be baffled by how their boy has suddenly become the darling of western art connoisseurs.
Another two of Gupta’s works, Dubai to Calcutta, a metal sculpture, and Idol Thief, an oil painting, fetched £313,250 and £337,250, respectively, at Christie’s Post War and Contemporary Art auction last night. That adds up to £951,750.
Gupta has explained his installation art thus: “I am the idol thief. I steal from the drama of Hindu life. And from the kitchen — these pots, they are like stolen gods, smuggled out of the country. Hindu kitchens are as important as prayer rooms. These pots are something sacred, part of important rituals, and I buy them in a market. They think I have a shop, and I let them think it. I get them wholesale.”
Christie’s has lauded his art: “Methodically arranged according to type in a stainless steel cabinet that is part kitchen shelving, part display case and part cabinet of curiosities, the kitchen utensils — the balti, the lota, the thali, the kalasham, the kumbhaa and the pateela — that collectively form Curry 2 all combine in this work to form a dazzling, almost decadent sense of splendour.”
Just in case you are tempted to wander down to Shyambazar as a prelude to offering Christie’s your own decadent sense of splendour, it is worth taking note of the views of a Christie’s spokesperson.
“It is how the artist chooses to arrange the objects, otherwise you could say a painting is just canvas and some paint,” he told The Telegraph.

Incidentally, at the same auction, Syed Haider Raza’s painting, La Terre, went for £1,273,250 while Anish Kapoor’s polished purple mirror greatly exceeded its reserve price of £600,000-800,000 and sold for £1,071,650.
The Christie’s spokesperson added: “The market for modernist Indian artists such as (M.F.) Husain, Raza and (Francis Newton) Souza has seen prices regularly reaching into the dollar millions, driven by resident and non-resident Indian collectors at the outset, but now increasingly capturing a global consciousness.”
Nor does the excitement around Gupta end with Christie’s. His works are included in an auction of contemporary art due to be held at Sotheby’s tonight and tomorrow.

As with the Christie’s sale, the Indian art works are being sold at Sotheby’s, not in some ethnic category, but mixed in with the best from around the world. Thus there is also art by Damien Hirst and Andy Warhol in the same auction.
The auction houses hope that Indian buyers, who are the main collectors of Indian art, will be tempted to pick up non-Indian paintings and sculptures, while non-Indians will be similarly persuaded to add Indian works to their shopping baskets.
First, though, Indians have to develop a taste for the likes of Hirst who is given to chopping up animals and suspending them in formaldehyde — he has a piece on offer tonight composed entirely of dead flies dipped in black paint.
Sotheby’s experts are taking great heart that some artists in India are becoming inspired by Hirst. Among them is Gupta’s wife, who has produced a sculpture of a mean looking hyena. This will find a buyer but probably not from a middle class home in Calcutta.
An untitled sculpture by Kapoor, made from fine quality alabaster and with a reserve price of £1-1.5 million, is also on sale at Sotheby’s.
“It will probably go to a private collector who will make it the centrepiece of his home,” predicted James Servier, deputy director of contemporary art at Sotheby’s. “In fact, he may build a house round it.”

Indian art pieces auctioned for $ 8.809 mn

Source : Hindustan Times
Indian artists never had it so good - an auction of modern and contemporary Indian art here including those by masters like M F Husain, Francis Newton Souza and Tyeb Mehta - has fetched a fabulous $ 8.809 million.
The auction was held by the Christie's last evening and the highest price of £ 720,000 went for Syed Haider Raza's La Terre (1985).
A masterpiece of colour and composition, 85-year-old Raza seamlessly merges his horizontal bands with elegant obliques in what is considered one of the finest examples of painting in his oeuvre.
Premier abstractionist Vasudeo S Gaitonde's untitled piece crafted in 1968 fetched £ 490,000 while Souza's Landscape with Planet, a superb artwork (1962) went under the hammer for £ 311,200.
Husain's untitled masterpiece of 1960 was sold for £ 132,000.
Akbar Padamsee's untitled work of 1978 received the fourth highest price of £ 204,000 followed by £ 156,000 for Jagdish Swaminathan's artwork from the 'Bird, Tree and Mountain series' drawn in 1985.
Mehta's 1961 untitled artwork fetched £ 156,000 while Souza's 1960 masterpiece was sold for £ 132,000. A Landscape drawn by Ram Kumar in 1995 went under the hammer for £ 114,000.

Indian artist fetches $2.5 mn at Christie's sale

Source : The Economic Times 2 Jul, 2008 LONDON: Indian artist Syed Haider Raza’s ‘La Terre’ has fetched a record $2.5 million at Christie’s Post-War sale in London.
The leading highlight ‘La Terre’, a work done as far back as 1973 by Raza, one of India’s leading modern artists, sold for £12,73,250 (over $2.5 million) setting a new record on Sunday.
Three works by Subodh Gupta were unable to set any records against the high pressure bidding of international favourites, said a bidder in London who felt that Gupta has been hyped by market conditions. Gupta’s ‘Dubai to Calcutta’ sold for £3,13,250, his second work ‘Curry 2’ sold for £3,01,250 and his ‘Idol Thief’ fetched £3,37,250.
Meanwhile, a 1975 set of three self-portraits by Francis Bacon fetched £17.3 million in London, the most expensive lot at Christie’s International sale of contemporary art. At least four bidders competed for the 14-inch-high, gray-hued oil canvases ‘Three Studies for Self-Portrait,’ featuring faces that are twisted, sliced and gorged.
The lot, with a pre-sale estimate of more than £10 million and seen in public for the first time, went to an anonymous phone bidder. The record for Bacon was set in May when ‘Triptych, 1976,’ depicting a headless corpse eaten by vultures sold for $86 million.

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