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Covid-19, poorer economy rob colour off Indian art market

Vinson Kurian Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on May 29, 2020 Published on May 29, 2020

Anish Kapoor retains top rank in Hurun India Art List 2020

The Hurun Research Institute has released the Hurun India Art List 2020, a ranking of the top 50 Indian artists alive today based on the sales of their works at public auction during the year ended December 31, 2019. Artprice.com, the world’s largest compiler of art statistics, provided the data.

This is the second edition of the Hurun India Art List. Anas Rahman Junaid, Managing Director and Chief Researcher, Hurun Report India, said that despite India now having more millionaires than ever before, Covid-19, the 2008 financial crisis and demonetisation have all slowed down the art market here.

Indian art undervalued

“I hope the Hurun India Art List, showcasing the most successful artists alive, encourages Indian entrepreneurs to collect local art. The art auction market represents only 0.4 per cent of the $13.3 billion global market, behind the US (35 per cent); China (31 per cent); and the UK (15 per cent).

Rupert Hoogewerf, Chairman and Chief Researcher of Hurun Global, feels that the Indian art is undervalued because the most expensive work to be sold at public auction were paintings by Francis Newton Souza and VS Gaitonde for only $4 million each.

Poor comparisons

These compare poorly with the $450 million for Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi; $179 million for Pablo Picasso’s Les Femmes d’Alger (“Version O”); and $170 million for Amedeo Modigliani’s sculpture Nu couché. “As India becomes richer with more families with the ability to collect, the value of India art should increase,” he said.

Backed by sales of his works at auction last year of ₹44.39 crore, London-based Anish Kapoor (66) tops the Hurun India Art List 2020 for the second year. New Delhi-based Rameshwar Broota (79), shot up nine places as second with sales of ₹11.89 crore, followed by modernist Krishen Khanna (95) with ₹6.87 crore.

Mumbai-based artists Atul Dodiya (61) and Jitish Kallat (45) broke into the top 10 for the first time. At least 22 per cent on the list are women artists, led by modernist painter Arpita Singh. Atul Dodiya, Rameshwar Broota and Jitish Kallat saw sales of their works rise fastest last year.

Deceased artist list

Total sales of the Hurun India Art List came to ₹108.71 crore, down 63.4 per cent compared with last year. Total lots sold were 444, down by 161, and led by Krishen Khanna with 41 lots. SH Raza and Francis Newton Souza, co-founders of the Progressive Artists' Group of Bombay, were highest-selling deceased artists with sales of ₹102.8 crore and ₹90.6 crore last year.

Bhupen Khakhar’s ‘Two Men in Benares’ was the highest-selling individual artwork of a deceased Indian artist at ₹22.39 crore. The youngest in the list is contemporary artist Valay Shende, aged 39 yrs. The most popular mode is painting, followed by sculpting though several artists use more than one. For instance, Subodh Gupta.

Published on May 29, 2020
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