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Moderns give Indian art a leg-up

Dated: 18-06-2009
Source: The Times of India



Record Prices at London Sale Positive Signs for Market Hit By Global Slowdown

An ink and pastel composition by Jogen Chowdhury fetched $609,629 (Rs.2.9 crore) at a sale of Indian art in London on Tuesday, setting a world auction record for the Bengal artist. The price-almost double the artist's previous record of $324,114- is a positive sign for the Indian art market which has been feeling the effects of the global slowdown.
Another work by Francis Newton Souza also fetched three times the presale estimate at the Sotheby's sale, suggesting valuations for modern artists have strengthened as those of once-feted contemporary artists waned amid the downturn.
The Christie's and Sotheby's summer sales of Indian art in London are considered a key indicator of market sentiment and both have notched up encouraging results. This year though, the number of works on offer was less than in the past, while valuations were trimmed to lure more buyers.
The strategy seems to have worked with Tuesday's sale witnessing heated bidding wars between multiple buyers for Souza's Orange Head and Jogen Choudhury's Day Dreaming. Zara Porter-Hill, director and head of Indian Art at Sotheby's, said, "We chose quality works by leading artists at appropriate pricing levels to appeal to buyers in the current market."
Besides Souza and Chowdhury, the sale featured works by M F Husain (five of which beat estimates), Manjit Bawa and some rare miniatures. Interestingly, all the top 10 works were picked up by private collectors, signalling an exodus of speculators. "The genuine art lovers are returning," said Maithili Parekh, deputy director at Sotheby's.



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