The Indian art market deflates further, although the contemporary art market shows signs of new life.
The recent Indian sales held in London failed to reverse the downward trend that started in June 2010. Christie’s emerged as the leader in terms of total volume of sales while Sotheby’s continues to disappoint, turning in its lowest result of Modern and Contemporary Indian art by sales volume since 2009.
The combined total for Modern and Contemporary Indian art based on Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Saffronart came in at $8,604,076 (excluding buyer’s premium), which is the lowest June total since 2009. The result was 26% lower than June 2011, and 54% less than June 2010.
Only 19 out of 253 lots exceeded the $100,000 price level. Tyeb Mehta’s ‘Mahishasura’ painting from 1996 was the only lot to pass the $1 million mark, and achieved a hammer price of $1,860,000 (excluding buyer’s premium).
For the first time in 12 months, the Contemporary Indian art market saw an increase in turnover. Contemporary works took an 11% share of the total, increasing sales by 78%, from $527,958 in March 2012 to $940,375. This was based on 34 contemporary lots sold. This result was strongly assisted by Subodh Gupta’s ‘Untitled’ painting and Bharti Kher’s work titled ‘Indra’s Net Mirror 8’, which sold for $187,826 and $101,750 respectively. Both these works were auctioned through Saffronart. The significant adjustment in prices in the contemporary art market seems to have started to generate renewed interest in Indian and South Asian contemporary art.
At the moment, it looks like Saffronart is the auction house to watch. We believe that its steady performance in the Modern and increasingly in the Contemporary Indian art market, will be rewarded as the market picks up momentum