INDIAN CONTEMPORARY ART COLLECTING
Business Today recently published an article providing valuable advice from knowledgeable professionals about purchasing or investing in Indian art. Art Radar summarises some of the top tips, which could be applied to other Asian regions.
Click here to read the full article, “Buying artwork is expensive but a lucrative investment”, published in Indian newspaper Business Today.
Real appreciation takes 10 to 12 years
According to Vickram Sethi, founder of The Arts Trust, an organisation whose mission is to increase the international visibility of modern and contemporary Indian art, the appreciation of Indian art is more long-term. He claims that, depending on the notability of the artist, some appreciation might be visible after five years but for the majority of Indian artworks, it is better to allow at least a decade to pass.
Buying emerging? Get advice first
Work by emerging artists is almost always significantly more affordable than that which is created by established artists. While collecting works by artists new to the art world can turn a lucrative investment, identifying the right up-and-coming artists to invest in is challenging for novice collectors. Ajay Seth, Chief Mentor and founder of Copal Arts, an arts consultancy for Indian art, encourages first-time investors to seek the advice of art advisers or experts when considering this category of artist, and further states that the reputation and history of the gallery selling the artwork should be a factor taken into consideration when purchasing work by emerging artists. In other words, while the artist may be lacking in an established track record, the gallery can serve as a reliable replacement.
Explore alternative artistic mediums
According to, Swapnil Pawar, the Chief Investment Officer of the wealth management firm Karvy Private Wealth, painting is far and away the most favoured artistic medium in the Indian art market, making up 99 percent of sales. By diversifying the scope of a collection to include sculpture, video or installation, all mediums typically sought after by museums and arts institutions, a collector may find artwork of comparable quality to the best paintings on the market. This strategy does have its challenges: many 3-D works are difficult to accommodate in private residences or spaces, which is a likely source for the unpopularity of these media.
Limited budget? Think multiples and prints
If you are working with a limited budget, it is worth exploring art by blue chip artists that is in editions. Ajay Seth explains that paintings on paper, such as watercolours, are less expensive than works on canvas done in oil or acrylic. The least expensive medium, Seth mentions, is charcoal on paper. It is important to remember that a work cannot automatically be deemed good simply because it has been created by a well known artist. Collectors should still pay attention to other factors relevant to the valuation of works. Prints are known for being more affordable because they are made in editions. Online auction house Saffronart is a great place to begin when searching for prints produced by modern and contemporary Indian artists.
Buy art you like and understand
Lastly, unlike other forms of investment such as stocks, it is worth remembering that art has an aesthetic quality that can, and some say should, be appreciated outside of its monetary value. Collectors and investors should research any artists of interest and consider the representing gallery. It is important to develop a thorough knowledge and understanding of an artwork or artist before purchase or investment. While auction prices, even for artists from emerging regions like India, are on the rise, the Business Today article indicates that there is something in the modern and contemporary Indian art world for collectors of all budgets.
Are you in agreement with this stance on the art market in India? How does it relate to your collecting experiences? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
- Young Indian artists struggle under veteran legacy – The Economic Times – November 2011 – What challenges do contemporary Indian artists face today?
- Masanori Fukuoka on early 1990s Indian art collecting – Hindustan Times – April 2011 – insight into practices of an early Indian art collector
- 10 indian artists to watch in 6 minutes – November 2010 – collector Ravin Agrawal introduces artists in concise TED video
- Bani Abidi on Indian video art, a medium on the rise – interview Tehelka Magazine – August 2009 – read about the artists and collectors of Indian video art
- Chinese art market outlook 2009 – Arttactic, AWAsia – April 2009 – Chinese contemporary art taste maker, Larry Warsh, interviews Arttactic Founder and Managing Director, Anders Petterson
Subscribe to Art Radar for the latest news on the development of the art market in Asia