Indian Art Auction Market in the post Pandemic Era

svasa | August 23, 2022 | Art

Since the beginning of the year 2020, the world has faced an unprecedented challenge due to the worldwide effects of the Covid pandemic. Seismic changes have been experienced across industries and sectors around the globe. Ironically, the auction market in India has firmly stood its ground, continuing its growth streak.

In fact, according to Art Market Report 2021, the financial year 2020-21 has been the strongest sales year in the history of Indian art auctions, with a turnover of ₹880.9 crores. There are several factors that have contributed to this upward trajectory of the market despite the pandemic.

Foremost, it has been the continued enthusiasm and support of the collectors’ community that has helped the art market endure the uncertainty of the pandemic era. Moreover, the rising number of collectors has also given a boost to the market, and has fostered a secure environment for exploring different avenues.

The demands for works by revered modernists of India continue to be the crowning glory of the Indian auction market year after year. Adding to this is a steadfast commitment from collectors to continue acquiring works from important Indian modernists, which has resulted in several landmark records in the last few years.

In the year 2020, a work by M. F. Husain titled ‘Voices’ fetched a price of ₹18.5 crores at an online auction, creating a world record for the artists. A unique work by one of India’s most globally recognised artists Amrita Sher-Gil also created a wave in the Indian auction market. An extremely intimate work, it was a portrait of her husband Victor Egan (featured image), and was auctioned for an impressive value of ₹10,86,75,000.

‘Voices’, M.F. Husain.

Creations by artist Tyeb Mehta also continue to be highly sought-after in the Indian auction market. Titled ‘Figure With Bird,’ is a work that comes from an extremely important phase of the artist’s career, and was acquired for a whopping amount of ₹24.2 crores. A rare work titled ‘Girl In A Yellow Sweater’ by artist F.N. Souza for an impressive amount of over ₹14 crores in another online auction in 2022 worth mentioning. The same sale also generated stupendous results for other revered modernists like M. F. Husain, S.H. Raza, and Jehangir Sabavala among others. Such records tend to display concrete stability in the auction market and reinforce a sense of confidence among buyers, old and new alike.

‘Girl in a Yellow Sweater’ F.N. Souza; ‘Figure with Bird’, Tyeb Mehta.

And while modern Indian art continues to be at the forefront, contemporary art has also generated immense interest among both seasoned and new collectors. Contemporary art in India is thriving with a constant influx of unique ideas brought forth by a dynamic generation of innovative artists. As ideators, they draw from their dichotomous experience in a constantly evolving and globalising country. By constantly expanding the horizons of their artistic expression with experimentation and multimedia practices, these artists have not only garnered critical acclaim, but have also made the collectors community take notice. Works by leading contemporary art practitioners including Subodh Gupta, Bharti Kher, Anju and Atul Dodiya are acquired with fervour and great enthusiasm at contemporary art auctions.

Another factor that has indicated a consistent market growth is the addition of new categories by the auction houses and also the expansion of the number of lots presented at auctions. In the past few years, Indian industry players have gone beyond the sphere of art and have created a robust market for several other auction categories, including heirloom jewellery, exceptional timepieces, antique decorative items, rare books, and other collectibles that have attracted a new wave of collectors who are interested in bidding in categories other than art.

The increase in the number of auctions has also accelerated the growth of the auction market. Apart from the traditional format, the online module, which has become a common norm since the pandemic offers bidders the opportunity to bid from the comfort of their houses or while they are on the go. Online viewing and bidding in auctions have garnered interest among collectors.

Over the years, the auction market has only consolidated and strengthened its positioning among buyers from around the world. The community of patrons and collectors continues to be on the rise with an increased awareness of the domain. The consistent progress of the market has perfectly complemented the positive and proactive buying sentiment and has created strong stability for both collectors and auctioneers. Considering the current trend and reports, it is highly plausible that FY 2022-23 will continue to see immense growth with collectors and bidders going all out to acquire artworks with great enthusiasm.

Words by Radhika Kerkar, Client Relations Specialist at AstaGuru Auction House.

Images via AstaGuru Auction House.

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