New nonprofit museum of Indian art groundbreaking first for India – Christies, New York Times

Anupam Poddar and his mother Lekha

Anupam Poddar and his mother Lekha

MUSEUM INDIAN ART NEW MEDIA EXHIBITION to 30 September 2008

Spread over two floors and 7,500 square feet in an office tower in the Gurgaon suburb of New Delhi , the Devi Art Foundation, as it is called opened in August 2008 with an inaugural show of photography and video called “Still Moving Image.” It features the work of 25 artists, a fraction of the roughly 2,000 contemporary pieces that make up the collection of 34 year old hotel magnate and leading art collector Anupam Poddar, along with an estimated 5,000 folk and tribal pieces, which are his mother’s passion.Devi is India’s first noncommercial, nonprofit exhibition space for contemporary art from India and the subcontinent. Yamini Mehta, director of modern and contemporary Indian art at Christie’s auction house in London, described it as “a truly groundbreaking first for India.”

The New York Times says “the birth of the Devi Art Foundation signals a sort of turning point in the Indian art scene, in that it opens up a private family trove to the public and is devoted entirely to contemporary art.””The Poddars are known in the art world here for their daring eye, for seeking out artists before they start fetching high prices or become recognizable names at fashionable Delhi dinner parties. Mr. Poddar scouts art college graduations for new talent, though it must be said that many of the artists he sought out years ago, like Subodh Gupta and Sudarshan Shetty, are now among the most recognizable names at those fashionable parties.”

The post-Indian-independence generation of artists known as the Progressives collected by his mother did not resonate with the son. He gravitated toward artists of his own generation. “Their vision of India was similar to mine,” he said. “It was being part of this – I hate this word – global world. It wasn’t just India. It wasn’t so isolated. They were working with sculpture, installation, with new media.”His first acquisition, in 1999, was a life-size pink fiberglass cow by Mr. Gupta. “It was quintessentially Indian but modern in its essence,” he said. “That’s what spoke to me.”

The inaugural exhibition of contemporary photography and video brings together the works of Aastha Chauhan, Baptist Coelho, Atul Bhalla, Avinash Veeraghavan, Bharti Kher, Kiran Subbaiah, Mithu Sen, Nalini Malani, Navin Thomas, Pushpamala N., Ram Rahman, Rameshwar Broota, Ranbir Kaleka, Ravi Agarwal, Sheba Chhachhi, Shilpa Gupta, Sonia Khurana, Sudarshan Shetty, Surekha, Susanta Mandal, Tejal Shah, Tushar Joag, Valay Shende, Varsha Nair and Vivan Sundaram.

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