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Published on: June 27, 2024, 7:07 p.m.
AstaGuru art auctions break records
  • The future for the Indian art world seems vibrant and ever-changing

By Swapna Vora

There is a great demand for Indian art, both for the renowned masters and the less expensive but equally beautiful work by others. As per the recently released Hurun India Art List 2024, the collective sales of India’s most successful artists reached a staggering Rs301 crore, marking a 19 per cent year-on-year growth, reflecting the increased demand for Indian work. AstaGuru has emerged as the leading art auction house, boasting the highest number of works sold in the Hurun India Art List 2024, with 28 magnificent pieces finding new homes. 

AstaGuru Chief Administrative Officer, Siddanth Shetty, commented on the significance of online auction houses in the art market. He said: “Online auction platforms and virtual exhibitions have provided collectors a chance to view, learn about and purchase artworks from the world’s artists, from their homes. Our international auctions, with works by revered artists such as Henri Matisse, Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso, offer this. Collectors access an easy, convenient way of growing their collection. The significance and success of online auctions was seen during global uncertainty (2020-2022). AstaGuru has only conducted online auctions and this led to our growth, even during the pandemic.

International art buyers can gain from purchasing art through Indian auction houses instead of international ones. Indian auction houses provide several advantages: They often have deep cultural insights and expertise, especially if they have researched thoroughly and done due diligence. They offer traditional and contemporary Indian artworks, ensuring provenance and authenticity. By dealing directly, buyers benefit from competitive pricing and access to rare or exclusive pieces. 

Among significant trends, the most notable is the enduring fascination with modern masters. Their works are loved by seasoned collectors. There is also a significant increase in the popularity of contemporary artists’ works due to younger collectors. Their penchant for contemporary art shows their love for bold expression and undeterred voices. The increasing number of auctions, including online ones, shows that this trend will grow over the years. Enthusiasm for international art too has grown.”

  • Manjit Bawa (Untitled) Krishna

    Manjit Bawa (Untitled) Krishna

Shetty added: “We are optimistic that the future for the Indian art world seems vibrant and ever-changing, with increasing opportunities. In the past year, we witnessed several record-breaking sales, notably Manjit Bawa’s ‘Untitled (Krishna)’ work which was sold for Rs25,11,12,268 in AstaGuru’s Modern Treasures auction (December 2023).

Recently, AstaGuru’s Masters Legacy auction (April 2024) saw several artist records established including those for JP Gangooly, Manu Parekh, KK Hebbar and Anjolie Ela Menon, among others. This solidifies the stance that modern Indian artists continue to be highly sought after, with collectors preferring important and rare works by artists responsible for shaping the Indian art landscape.”

“While seasoned collectors continue to be a driving force, we have seen an uptick in new collectors, contributing to the dynamism of the market. Primarily aged between their late thirties and forties, their backgrounds are diverse, as they look to further existing family collections or begin their own. This has resulted in an increasingly varied group of art enthusiasts and collectors here, due to changing demographics and a growing fascination with contemporary Indian art. We have responded to this demand by increasing the frequency of auctions in a year and by offering works by emerging contemporary Indian artists. Some are being sold for the first time at AstaGuru, providing collectors with diverse artistic styles and themes.”

According to the recently released Hurun India Art List 2024, the entry point for the top 10 artists in the list rose from Rs1.99 crore in 2021 to Rs7.70 crore in 2024, reflecting a nearly 287 per cent increase. The list mentions that the cumulative value of the top 50 artworks reached Rs252.61 crore, up from Rs82.57 crore in 2021, marking a threefold increase. This signals an optimistic trajectory for the Indian art market this year and in the following years. With the growth in middle-class incomes and a marked increase in high-net-worth individuals, more people are collecting art and spending on works that embody India’s rich artistic legacy.

  • J P Gangooly Untitled (Sunrise)

As per the report, the vitality of the Indian art market was remarkable in several ways, particularly its exceptional ‘sold through’ rate of over 95 per cent, significantly higher than the global average of 62 per cent, (including China). Despite a limited supply of 2,200 lots offered in 2023, the market completely matched a competitive demand earning the seventh spot in the global ranking of countries by art auction turnover (by The $152 million in auction sales marked a substantial 76 per cent increase from 2022, already a record-breaking year.

Notable highlights of the list: two artists made significant strides – Paresh Maity surged into the top 10 for the first time, while Thota Vaikuntam from Telangana reclaimed the ninth spot. Furthermore, an impressive 13 artists witnessed an extraordinary increase of over 100 per cent in cumulative sales value, up from 10 artists in the previous year.

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