8th Dec 2006

Raza goes for $1.4 million at Saffronart auction
Syed Haider Raza's 'Climat' fetched $1.4 million at the Saffronart winter online auction of modern Indian art featuring 160 canvases by 43 Indian artists that earned a whopping total of Rs. Rs.686.4 million ($15.3 million).

The auction, which took place exclusively on Dec 6-7, had 160 lots. Of the 147 works sold, 127 earned above their higher estimates.

This auction was the 15th in the series by Saffronart and its structure and time span allowed serious collectors as well as first-time buyers worldwide to place their bids over a period of two days, as opposed to a period of a few hours in a live auction.

Paris-based Raza's 'Climat', a vermilion-toned geometrically poignant work done in 1974, was Lot 84. This acrylic on canvas was estimated at $813,960-1.04 million and went for an astounding $1.4 million, making it a new record for Raza as well as Indian modern art.

The timing of the record is wonderful because Raza will be celebrating his 85th birthday in India in early 2007.

Another record was Tyeb Mehta's Lot 16, a brilliantly evocative untitled acrylic on canvas in shades of moss green and mahogany - a metaphor for the rickshaw puller of Shantiniketan.

This work with its iconic gravity and its cosmic echo set bidders across the globe in a frenzy. Estimated between $697,680-930,240, the work went for a hefty $1.10 million.

Then came Husain's 'Civilisation' which went for $80,467.

Lot 68 belonged to abstract Gaitonde. An untitled work belonging to 1969 is oil on canvas in an extremely darkened tenor and estimated at $418,610-511,630. It went under the hammer for $492,129.

The inimitable F.N. Souza was well attended in this auction with a number of works. Among his best was Lot 145 'Elongated Head with Nails and Arrows' which went for $492,317.

Next came Akbar Padamsee's Lot 90. An untitled head estimated at $58,140-69,770 went for $528,147.

Lot 92 belonged to abstract guru - the late Jagdish Swaminathan - whose untitled 1986 oil on canvas from his 'Tree Mountain and Bird' series was estimated at $180,000-220,000. It went for $434,090. The second work belonging to Lot 72 did not sell.

Vaikuntham's work estimated at $34,890-46,520 went for a winning value of $107,690.

Of great interest were a number of works by the new artist Jogen Chowdhury. An impassioned work of a seated woman in a flowered sari was an untitled work done in 1988. The oil on canvas estimated at $75,000-85,000 and went for $123,750.

But Chowdhury's artistic delight of Lot 129, 'The Lonely Moon', was signed and dated in English (upper right) and signed in Bengali (upper left) and dated in Bengali (lower left). This work belonging to 1999 is a mixed media on paper estimated at a humble $41,860-51,170 and sold for $84,546.

Among women artists was Arpita Singh's Lot 20. An enigmatic work titled '31 Days of December' was done in 1998. Oil on canvas, it was estimated between $90,000 and $120,000 and went for $170,500.

Crossing $223,714 were 14 works at the auction - four of Souza's, two Ram Kumar's, one of Tyeb, one Gaitonde's, one Padamsee's, two of Husains, one of Swaminathan and two of Razas.

Krishen Khanna's 'Lalaji' and his 'Brass at Gyanji's' fetched $223,244.

For Saffronart, it was a great way to bid farewell to 2006 and get ready for 2007. In more ways than one, they have learnt to win the trust of collectors and bidders and the art fraternity the world over.

- By Uma Nair

view winter online auction, 2006 results

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