13 May, 2021

The Pink Period

Artists never had it so good. Their works are fetching the highest prices, ever. But is there need for caution?

Tribhuvan Tiwari
The Pink Period
Hardly had the hammer gone down on S.H. Raza's Bindu Bija-Mantra at Rs 68 lakh—the highest price ever for a work of a living Indian artist sold on home soil—than tremors of disbelief shook the art world. Even Dinesh Vazirani—his Saffronart.com conducted the auction online out of Mumbai over three days in the first week of this month—was shocked as a record 250 registered bidders sent the prices spiralling out of control. The late F.N. Souza's Samurai went for Rs 62 lakh and a canvas of M.F. Husain's horses for Rs 30 lakh. Virtually everything else was also lapped up at amazing speed.

"The art market was on fire. A scarcity of supply and the demand exploded," Vazirani told Outlook on the eve of the auction. He didn't need to be a crystal ball gazer to make that observation: art is booming as never before. Auctions both in India and overseas are hammering in the good news for contemporary Indian art (see box). Look closely at gallerists, art dealers, auctioneers, impresarios and collectors, you can almost see dollar signs in their eyes. Eldorado is...

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