With a fresh market precedent, which includes back-to-back record sales, the art market in India is vibrant and yet grounded with precise and calculated sanguine projections. One could consider last year’s record sale for what was then the most expensive modern Indian art painting as a validating point. To make matters even merrier, a recently-concluded auction in March 2021 broke the record set last year.
VS Gaitonde continues to rule the roster, considering that it was his untitled work created in the year 1995 auctioned in 2015 that initially held the record, which was later superseded by his work from the year 1974 in 2020. The latest entry for the artist’s work registered a total sale value of Rs 39.98 crore in March 2021. Owning a work of art with unmatchable aesthetic value, that appreciates with time, is indeed a valued and treasured asset. And with the art market presenting an encouraging prospect, this is the ideal entry point to invest in Indian art. Good art will always inspire demand and the prices for masterpieces by seminal artists will remain steady as they have, historic as well as the leverage of a rich provenance.
The Indian art auction market has stood its ground through the course of 2020. As a matter of fact, modern Indian art, to be specific, has also proven to be a safe asset with long-term goals, and has even performed well during inflationary periods. Given the current exposure that Indian art is receiving, the projected turnover of the market will hold its ground, and further expand over the next decade. It is safe to expect an increment in prices, considering the steady growth in demand and the limited supply of auction quality artworks by leading modernists. Analysing, researching and thereafter including Indian art properties, during the asset planning and strategy phase should not be undermined. One must bear in mind and favour the idea of posterity; rather than focusing on short-term gains, it is imperative to perceive art as a long-term moveable asset.
Research & analysis
Having said that, art will always be a subjective investment, influenced by the trends of the time. Therefore, one must always keep their ears to the ground and validate an acquisition, backed by research and analysis. Factors such as an artwork’s exhibition and publication history go a long way to prove the work’s importance. Another crucial factor to trace is the provenance of the artwork. It is also imperative to follow the respective artist’s auction performance before committing to a transaction or a bid.
Choose genuine source
Internet technology and digital data has also played a huge role with regards to cataloguing and publishing information about the art market. The enhanced accessibility of data online has aided the prospective buyer to research and get well-informed. After researching and achieving clarity about the contended acquisition, the final step is to choose a genuine and well-informed source. Galleries and auction houses represent the primary and secondary market-place respectively. Acquiring art through such institutions is highly advisable considering the transparency of the transaction.
Based on the data of the paintings sold of the highest value by all the leading auction houses, we can safely deduce that the domestic demand has been steadily increasing and exudes confidence. Demand has also sustained their levels in the international circuit, reflecting a resilient demand amongst international and NRI collectors. International recall and the much-deserved recognition for Indian artists expressed by institutions and museums all over the world, has catapulted the market perception on the global stage. Considering these statistics, one can gather that the Indian art environment is escalating in tow with healthy indicators, hereby garnering attention on the global scale.
(The author, an MBA graduate in marketing from John Moores University, Liverpool, is a visionary with a strong technological bent and a first-hand witness to the growth of auction industry in India.)
VP Business Strategy & Operations