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saurashtra-1983

Five Indian artworks that set world records in sale

Over the years, modern Indian art has slowly, but steadily made inroads into the world of highest-selling artworks at the auction houses. This ceiling breaking sales have turned the gaze of collectors and international art spaces to Indian artists’ oeuvre. Let’s take a look at what five such artworks that successfully managed to make international headlines.

Vasudeo S Gaitonde, ‘Untitled’ (1995)
Auction House: Christie’s, Mumbai
Sold for: $4.4 million

An oil painting by abstract artist Vasudeo S Gaitonde created a new world record for Indian artwork in December 2015, when his 1995 ‘Untitled’ was sold for a whooping 293m rupees (£2.9m) in Mumbai, India. It broke the previous record of $4.01m (£2.7m) paid for a Francis Newton Souza work. This oil on canvas by one of India’s foremost abstract painters is the most expensive Indian artwork to be sold since 1965, according to Artery India, an art market intelligence firm.

Francis Newton Souza, ‘Birth’ (1955)
Auction House: Christie’s, New York
Sold for: $4 million

A large, 4 feet x nearly 8 feet, oil on canvas, painting is considered one of the most important paintings ever made by the Goan-born artist. It had set a new world record as the most expensive Indian painting sold in an auction in September, 2015. Interestingly, this painting was sold at a Christie’s auction in 2008 for $2.5 million — then a record price for a work of modern Indian art.

Vasudeo S Gaitonde, ‘Untitled’ (1979)
Auction House: Christie’s, Mumbai
Sold for: $3.7 million

Modernist painter Gaitonde had set a world record for modern Indian art when his abstract landscape fetched Rs. 23.7 crore (USD 3.7 million) at Christie’s first auction in India. The ‘Untitled’ oil-on canvas golden yellow coloured landscape painted in 1979 bore his signature in Hindi and went to a private collector from the US who placed the bid over telephone. The jewel-toned painting is one of the earliest works done by the artist after he graduated from the JJ School of Art and was in personal collection of Mumbai-based gallerists duo, the late Kekoo and Khorshed Gandhy.

SH Raza, ‘Saurashtra’ (1983)
Auction House: Christie’s, South Kensington
Sold for: $3.48 million

A milestone was achieved in Indian art in 2010 when Syed Haider Raza’s work ‘Saurashtra’ was sold at more than 16 crores becoming the most valuable Indian painting to be sold in any auction at Christie’s then. Saurashtra was painted in 1983 after Raza had already explored Ecole de Paris and Abstract Expressionism, and had begun to incorporate elements of his Indian heritage into his art.

Tyeb Mehta, ‘Untitled (Figure on Rickshaw)’ (1984)
Auction House: Christie’s London
Sold for: $3.24 million

The Unitiled oil on canvas, which shows a figure reclining on a rickshaw, was sold for $3.24 million. This work broke the artist’s earlier $2.8-million record sale for his diptych “Bulls.”The untitled oil painting shows a figure reclining on a hand-pulled rickshaw depicted in blocks of grays, reds and saffron.Mehta, a key member of the Bombay Progressive Artists Group, was inspired by the rickshaw pullers he’d see during his annual summer holidays in Kolkata.




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