Launched three years ago, the Indian Art Summit dramatically increased in size in 2011, in line, perhaps, with the rapidly increasing buying power of locals. As we await the official announcement of the closing figures for the Indian Art Summit 2011, Art Radar has put together a collection of top quotes garnered from online discussions of the event.

Founded by Director Neha Kirpal, the fair reportedly attracted “a total of 570 artists and 84 galleries from 20 countries across the world. There were collectors from around 67 global cities, and the gala affair saw 128,000 visitors in three days (Jan 21 – 23).”

Works by top artists, including international Masters, were included in this year’s fair, with Kirpal aiming to attract new buyers by offering work by these artists at lower prices.

This year, things have taken a sharp upturn with international galleries bringing some of their best works, including works by Pablo Picasso and Auguste Rodin.

Kirpal aims to encourage access for those who might never usually walk through the doors of an art gallery. She has an interest in promoting ‘affordable art’– for instance, pieces with prices that start around Rs40,000 (£600) – but the ‘price points’ she identifies for a range of buyers at India Art Summit are somewhat more ambitious: at the higher end, stretching up to Rs35m (£500,000). … Because of the appetite among Indian collectors to buy works of top international blue-chip artists, she says galleries are bringing in smaller (perhaps lower value) works of the top international artists.

Financial Times

And galleries reportedly bought into the concept:

‘We keep our best work for the Summit. After all, the number of people we have here in an hour is more than the number that visit the gallery in a year,’ says Ashish Anand, director, Delhi Art Gallery. Placed adjacent to [MF] Husain’s artworks will be works of 29 other prominent artists, including FN Souza, SH Raza, GR Santosh, Jamini Roy and Bhupen Khakhar.

Express India

Fair Director, Neha Kirpal. Image from

Fair Director Neha Kirpal. Image from

Before the Summit began, Business Standard wrote an outline of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

What was said during the Indian Art Summit 2011?

Foreign galleries participating in the India Art Summit for the first time are ‘impressed’ by the ‘educated art market’ and the large turnout. Many even brought down the prices of their paintings to ‘suit’ the Indian tastes.

sify news

Talking about the first day response from the audience, Yamini of the Delhi Art Gallery said: ‘The response has been very good. There have been a number of visitors, including college kids and school children.’

The Wall Street Journal put together a round-up of artists to keep an eye out for, published on their India Real Time site the day the Summit opened.

Website of artist Tejal Shah. Image from

Website of artist Tejal Shah. Image from

What was said after the Indian Art Summit 2011?

[At a recent unveiling of his Absolut bottle installation] Subodh [Gupta], who was being congratulated by … guests for his efforts, shared with us his thoughts about the recently concluded India Art Summit. ‘According to me, the events that happened during the Summit were quite interesting. As far as the artworks are concerned, I think buyers were spoilt for choice. There was so much to admire and buy at the Summit,’ he said.

The Times of India

Undoubtedly, the Summit’s third edition appealed to a wider range of international bigwigs than its previous iterations. Or, as the press release put it: ‘Visitors from seventeen cities in India and sixty-seven cities around the world’ turned up. Speculations that India and China are going to be the next ‘superpowers’ were aired regularly. ‘We feel there is huge potential here,’ confided Nadine Knotzer of Dubai’s Carbon 12. By and large, the quality of artworks was better this year too.


Says art consultant Swapnil Khullar, ‘The art summit is a platform that brings so many people from the art world together. With a day and a half’s notice, a talk by Anish Kapoor was held at the NGMA’s grounds this Sunday, and the place was packed! Also, there were more than 19 parallel events taking place in the city during this time and since so many people from the art frat are here, everyone stands to gain from this. For instance, it can lead to collaborations for galleries, or if a big art critic likes your work, s/he can even spread the word about you internationally.’

The Times of India

Floor plan, Indian Art Summit 2011. Image from

Floor plan, Indian Art Summit 2011. Image from

Still, the summit faced its share of typically Indian challenges. One dealer kept a worried eye on a tangle of electrical cables buried under the carpet. Ms. Kirpal had to get the ten domes of the exhibition hall covered with waterproof sheeting at the last minute. And thugs threatened the exhibition of India’s most famous painter, M.F. Husain….

Art in Picture

Hemavathy, a Delhi-based artist, has issues with the galleries, which she thinks promote only saleable artists and do not care for the quality of work. … She is perturbed by the fact that the summit allows no space for artists not promoted by galleries. Many like Deepak Shinde also feel that there should be a space for … people who don’t own galleries but sell works through contacts.

The Tribune

Deccan Herald have published an article in which they cut the fair into a series of “scenes”, invoking an on-the-ground experience of the Summit.

Mixed opinions on Summit seminars

…I feel that the wings of hype should be clipped. I even overheard a gallerist boast, without batting an eyelid, ‘Forget Frieze, Delhi’s the place now.’ We have a long way to go before we can go shoulder to shoulder with London’s Frieze Art Fair…. I wish the organisers had simply called it the India Art Fair. The seminars are only a small part of it, and limited to a very few.

DNA India

But the Question Forum, undeniably the profound and more reflective facet of the Summit,… was a definite success. That people in India would be willing to pay something like Rs 500 for each session … came as a refreshing surprise.

The Tribune

Sculpture by George K., Indian Art Summit 2011. Image from

Sculpture by George K., Indian Art Summit 2011. Image from

What about the sales? The buyers?

…there seemed to be no shortage of sophisticated buyers. People came, Kirpal told me, with her seamless command of facts and figures, from 67 cities around the world, including 17 in India. Galleries reported 60-70 per cent sales, across all price ranges, but particularly in the $500,000+ bracket, with most of the star attractions (Picassos, a Dalí, works by Souza) all sold. The Indian diaspora was well in attendance, with non-resident Indian (NRI) buyers coming from New York, California and elsewhere. The younger galleries did well with photography and video; there were sales to museums in Israel, Monaco, Australia, Shanghai and elsewhere. Most significantly, perhaps, some galleries reported that as much as 80 per cent of their sales were to first-time collectors.

Financial Times

The buyers included hundreds of new faces, and the most-bought works fell in the category of Rs 1-5 lakh. ‘In 2009, new buyers were responsible only for about 30-40% of sales. … The total sales figures amounted to around three times that of last year’s Rs 26 crore, though we are yet to receive the official figures,’ says Kirpal.

Hindustan Times

Indian collector Anupam Poddar of Devi Art Foundation. Image from

Indian collector Anupam Poddar of Devi Art Foundation. Image from

If there were seven-year-olds gawking at modern master FN Souza’s nudes, there were also business tycoons and air-kissing wives with money to spend and bare walls to decorate. First-time buyers rubbed shoulders with heavyweight collectors like sugar baroness Rajshree Pathy, Devi Art Foundation’s Anupam Poddar and Kiran Nadar, wife of HCL founder Shiv Nadar.

The Times of India

One gallery owner from Mumbai said she was somewhat unprepared for what happened on preview day, before the fair opened to the public, when all three editions of a $13,000 neon light-and-acrylic piece by Tejal Shah, a young Mumbai artist, were snapped up by buyers. A New Delhi gallery sold ten contemporary pieces, including photographs, paintings and sculpture, at prices ranging from $7,700 to $270,000. Other dealers reported sales of contemporary Indian works for as much as $400,000. And two sold paintings by Picasso, each of which went for more than $1 million.

Art in Picture

‘There were five works that were sold for over $1 million (around Rs 4.5 crore),’ says Neha Kripal, director of the event…. ‘The works were priced at much higher rates, and Indian contemporary artists did very well,’ she adds.

Hindustan Times

What was different about this time’s art fair – apart from its bigger size and sprawl – was the growing contingent of foreign collectors. The Indian art fair is certainly going international. There were buyers from Hong Kong, Australia and the US.

The Times of India

Minal Vazirani, the president and co-founder of Saffronart, one of the world’s largest online fine art auction houses, came to the summit to see new trends. ‘I think there is a much stronger inclination than there ever was before to buy sculptures, to buy installations,’ she said. A relatively new phenomenon in India, visitors were particularly intrigued by video installations, where images seemed to dance across the wall in 3-D. According to Kirpal, the total sale of these visual pieces was between $700,000 and $800,000.

The Daily Beast

Ranbir Kaleka, 'Cul-de-sac in Taxila', 2010, single channel HD video projection on painted canvas, 3 minute 55 second loop with sound, 244 cm x 185 cm. Image from

Ranbir Kaleka, 'Cul-de-sac in Taxila', 2010, single channel HD video projection on painted canvas, 3 minute 55 second loop with sound, 244 cm x 185 cm. Image from

‘This is possibly the most exciting time for Indian art. The only thing that depresses me is that there is a lot of ill-informed talk about art prices,’ says [Bharti] Kher who uses the bindi as an external covering of her work. Both [Subodh] Gupta and Kher dislike discussing money and find the ‘commodification of art depressing. We are artists, not merchants.’

Indian Today

Experimental works and new trends in art sold surprisingly well. … The directors of international galleries, however, felt that the Indian art collector is not yet familiar with the works of international artists.

The Tribune

Click here to read Art Market Monitor‘s collection of Art Summit sales quotes. The article was published on 31 January, 2011.

3 Flickr sets on the Indian Art Summit 2010

And just for fun…

Open compares their visit to the Summit with the experience of watching a Japanese horror film.


Related Topics: art fairs, Indian artists, market watch, business of art

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By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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