24th June, 2008

Dinesh Vazirani, director of Saffronart, is pleased with the outcome of the online auction portal’s summer auction held on 19 June. Featuring works of Indian Red Carpet-2 by Rashid Rana 2007, C Print + DIASEC, Sold for Rs 2 croremodern and contemporary artists, the auction registered a total sale value of approximately Rs39 crores (USD 9.7 million). Works by many well known painters, sculptors and installation artists, including S.H. Raza, Subodh Gupta, Jagdish Swaminathan and Rashid Rana were sold and world auction records were set for eight artists, including Subodh Gupta, Hema Upadhyay, Badri Narayan, K.M. Adimoolam, Justin Ponmany, Chitra Ganesh, Bose Krishnamachari and Anita Dube.

Vazirani declared the online auction a success. “This marks the successful launch of our new auction technology, which is the first of its kind globally, and makes the bidder’s online experience as convenient as possible,” he said. “While the results of this sale were stellar across the board, the fact that three of the top five lots were by modern Indian artists demonstrates a heartening resurgence in demand for premium modern works.”

Vazirani said that the Indian art market has matured over the last couple of years in that buyers have become more discerning and are willing to pay a premium for quality. He feels that in part this is because more collectors, as opposed to those who buy purely for purposes of investment, are in the market now. A wealth of information about Indian art and artists is also now available, both online and in the print media, he observed.

Untitled by Subodh Gupta,2006, Oil on canvas, Sold for Rs 5.7 croreClose to 600 registered bidders from all over the world competed against each other for the works of some of India’s most prominent artists. The top five lots were Subodh Gupta’s Untitled, selling for Rs. 5.7 crore, the highest price achieved by the artist at auction; S.H. Raza’s Germination, selling for Rs. 4.2 crore; Rashid Rana’s Red Carpet –2, selling for Rs.2 crore; J. Swaminathan’s Untitled, selling for Rs. 1.84 crore; and F.N. Souza’s Untitled, selling for Rs. 1.63 crore.

The art market tends to enjoy a certain amount of immunity from the overall economic scenario, said Vazirani, when asked if the current economic downturn, both globally and in India, had any impact on the prices fetched at the auction. “Buyers usually tend to be high net-worth individuals,” he said. “And it is not unusual to find a reverse correlation between economic downturn and the health of the art market.”

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