‘India contributes big time to online art’

June 26th, 2008 - 2:53 pm ICT by IANS  

By Devapriyo Bhattacharjee
Mumbai, June 26 (IANS) Online art auctions have grown more than 10 times in the last five years and India has made a major contribution to this growth, says Dinesh Vazirani, co-founder and director of leading auction house Saffronart. Vazirani said online art auctions have gone up from Rs.200 million ($5 million) to Rs.2.4 billion ($60 million) globally in five years. He said the industry is expected to grow further to nearly Rs.10 billion in the next five years.

Vazirani said larger access, better transparency, cost effectiveness and easy participation had given a major boost to online auctions in recent years.

“One can be part of the auction sitting anywhere in the world with just a click of the mouse. What can be easier than this,” Vazirani told IANS in an interview.

His Mumbai-based auction house - its website is www.saffronart.com - last week notched a sale of Rs.388 million from online sales. Established by Dinesh and Minal Vazirani in 2000, it has set global benchmarks.

Online auctions, pioneered in the country by Saffronart, have transformed the landscape of modern and contemporary Indian art, making it accessible to participants who are constrained by geographical and physical limitations and opening it to a wide spectrum of international art lovers.

Saffronart, which mainly deals with modern and contemporary Indian art, is also planning to venture into other forms of art like photography and sculpture. It is also planning to expand its arm to international art.

“Though painting is the most saleable art form, we are also planning to venture into photography and sculpture. Now we are dealing with Indian art as we are familiar with it, but I also have plans to venture into international art forms shortly,” said Vazirani.

He considers S.H. Raza, Tyeb Mehta, M.F. Hussain, T.B. Santosh and Subodh Gupta among others as the most saleable Indian artists in the world market.

“Gupta is one of the most sought after Indian contemporary artists of today. His works are not only popular in India, but Americans and Europeans also want to buy them.”

An untitled painting of Gupta sold for Rs.57 million in last week’s auction.

Vazirani welcomed the presence of other players like Osian’s in the art auction market. He said, “With the advent of more players, be they big or small, the scene is going to change for the better.

“With the participation of Osian’s it will definitely get bigger as there will be more awareness and public information.”

About nurturing budding artists, Vazirani said Saffronart provides them an online platform to showcase their work. “It is for those artists who do not have gallery relationships. I think it is very important and motivates younger artists to do better work.”

Saffronart has been included in a case study at the Harvard Business School.

Vazirani feels that online art is the future of art auctions and it can grow in leaps and bounds with active government support in the form of reduction in taxes and duties.

“Besides a reduction in taxes and duties, government participation in building infrastructure like museums and institutions would definitely change the industry for the better,” Vazirani said.

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