Contemporary Asian artists, rare Buddha set new records at Christie’s sale

September 17th, 2008 - 3:29 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 17 (IANS) Contemporary artists from India are still ruling the auction market across the globe despite the economic meltdown and the US market crash. The miracle man of Indian contemporary art, Subodh Gupta, jumped the million-dollar mark in the Christie’s New York sake of South Asian art September 15-16 that spun $12.6 million in revenue and set six new world records for south Asian artists. The record holders included Subodh Gupta, Riyas Komu, Jyothi Basu, Manjit Bawa and Chitra Ganesh from India, as also Mohammed Zeeshan of Bangladesh Zainul Abedin of Pakistan.

The sale included a eclectic and exclusive collection of modern and contemporary art works, along with rare heritage artefacts from the sub-continent. The auction, which offered 126 lots on offer, sold 84 lots.

Gupta’s “Steal 2″, an oil on canvas and estimated at $ 800,000- $1 million, beat previous price tallies of the artist’s own works at Christie’s by selling for $ 1.16 million. The canvas, which was also the top draw in terms of prices was picked up by a private US collector. The work had been sold twice earlier.

Two of Gupta’s other works - “Miter” - a canvas of stainless steel utensils, and a untitled oil on canvas sold for $1.02 million and $962,500 respectively.

Two canvases by Maqbool Fida Husain, “Ritual”, and an untitled work in acrylic sold for $1.02 and $ 482,500 respectively. A Tyeb Mehta canvas, “Untitled (Yellow Heads),” raked in $902,500.

Rameshwar Broota’s “The Same Old Story” and the “Man”, two artworks loaded with symbolism and satire, fetched $662,500 and $506,500 respectively while an untitled canvas by Jagdish Swaminathan went out for $362,500. A untitled oil-on-canvas by Manjit Bawa fetched $362,500.

Broota’s and Bawa’s works were picked up by the Indian art trade dealers. The auction, said Hugo Weihe, the international director and head of the south Asian modern and contemporary art, confirmed the strength of the growing Indian art market because several prices exceeded pre-sale estimates.

“The sale, that elicited lively interest, was led by Subodh Gupta’s ‘Steal 2′. It witnessed competitive bidding from international buyers both on ground and online,” Weihe said in a press communique from New York.

The auction also offered several rare Buddhist masterpieces from the Zimmerman Family Collection - mostly Himalayan bronzes. A gilt bronze figure of Buddha belonging to the 14th century fetched $3.66 million, setting a world auction record, while a 9th century gilt bronze sculpture of Avalokiteshvara belonging to the Kashmir School in Western Tibet sold for $1.53 million.

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