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Amid art world slowdown, digital auctions save the day

“The number of new bidders is an encouraging trend and strengthens the market’s foundation. We expect a healthy and stable performance with regards to the summer sales.”

IANS | New Delhi |

According to the Artprice 2020 Art Market Report, the cancellation of fairs, exhibitions and sales since March last year has impacted the art industry at large. But unlike museums, which have suffered the full impact of Covid-related restrictions, auction houses quickly found ways to preserve the core of their activities thanks to digital technology.

In the case of Mumbai-based online auction house AstaGuru, which has been online since its inception, the connection with their target audience was not lost.

“Owing to this we were able to stay connected with our target audience/collectors and stay relevant in the current times. Our secure and easy remote accessibility features further accorded our bidders confidence to continue participation in our auctions. We have been receiving an enthusiastic response for all our auctions, signifying a sustained demand for art,” Sneha Gautam, Vice President — Client Relations, AstaGuru tells IANSlife.

Ahead of presenting the sale “Collectors Choice: Modern Indian Art” on June 25-26, which will showcase a well curated line-up of works by Modern Indian masters, AstaGuru asserts that the auction market is performing well, and collectors are greatly inclined towards investing in important and well-presented assets.

“Furthermore, the number of new bidders is an encouraging trend and strengthens the market’s foundation. We expect a healthy and stable performance with regards to the summer sales,” it says.

In the context of the upcoming sale, AstaGuru shares that modern Indian art remains the proverbial jewel in the crown for art collectors with consistent demand for works by Masters. It says that it has witnessed this trend, along with an increase in first time bidders indicating a significant interest among new collectors as well. Over half the works being sold in this upcoming sale are market debuts.

Highlights of the auction include, ‘Ivory Eyes’ an enamel on canvas work by Prabhakar Barwe from the year 1976, estimated at Rs 20-30 lakhs. M F Husain’s Untitled from his ‘Calcutta Series’ a large acrylic on paper work, circa 1990 pays homage to one of his favourite cities, Kolkata, and demonstrates his love and bond with the city. It is estimated at Rs 20-30 lakhs and is making its auction debut.

Another first-time Husain is a rare set of four untitled works, accompanied by a set of four limited edition posters, circa 1985, which are based on the presented artworks. Also being auctioned for the first time is S H Raza’s, ‘Nidhi’, an acrylic on canvas painting, from the year 1990, estimated at Rs 80 lakhs-1.2 crores.

The auction will also include multiple significant and rare works by the greats from the Bengal School of Art including Jamini Roy, Gaganendranath Tagore and Nandalal Bose, as well Jogen Choudhury, also works by distinguished artists such as Ganesh Pyne, Amrita Sher- Gil, K.H Ara, Anjolie Ela Menon, K.K. Hebbar, Krishen Khanna, K. G. Subramanyan, Akbar Padamsee, Lalu Prasad Shaw, and many of them appearing in an auction for the first time.

Speaking on the trailblazing trend of NFT (non-fungible token) art taking the art market abroad by a storm, Gautam says Astaguru does not deal with NFT Art. “With the world becoming increasingly digital there is space for all forms of creativity to co-exist and for the same reason, there will also be a specific audience for the same,” the spokesperson signs off.