Your overwhelming response to the first issue on the Bengal School of art has been quite encouraging and we are emboldened to present to you the second and concluding issue of Art etc. news & views again covering the Bengal School from Benodebehari and Ramkinkar to the present day.
Meanwhile, last month, I had been to Europe and was present at the Indian Modern and Contemporary Art auctions at both Sotheby's and Christies. I had also been to the 43rd Art Basel in Switzerland.
Let me share my observations from these experiences. The Sotheby's auction was very poor. Out of the 88 lots offered, 51 went unsold, including Indian contemporary masters like Raza, Husain and Souza. Christie's fared much better, with just 15 of the 112 on offer remaining unsold. In the same week Bonhams made a record for artist Jehangir Sabavala selling his oil on canvas, Vespers I, for 253,250 pounds.
To me the triumph of the Christie's sale over Sotheby's lay in sensible pricing and the selection of good lots. At Art Basel the story was different though. Being the biggest and arguably the best fair of contemporary art, Basel proved to be quite robust in terms of sales with no sign of the economic gloom sweeping over Europe in sight. The Swiss fair hosting 300 top-tier international gallery exhibitors wrapped on June 17 with a noticeable increase in buyers from China. With approximately 65,000 visitors, the same amount as last year, including U.S. billionaires like Stephen Cohen and Jerry Speyer, as well as renowned artists such as Marina Abramovic and Richard Wentworth, sales were strong at all levels of the market.
These are indicators that if there are good lots with sensible pricing, collectors are keen on buying. Autograph days are over and art by square- inch is no more selling.
We need to form our strategy keeping these principles in mindespecially in a market whose dynamics are changing very fast.
Last but not the least, I also take this opportunity to thank our contributors and guest editor of this issue. My heartfelt thanks go to Pranabranjan Ray, Koeli Mukherjee Ghosh, Mrinal Ghose, Nanak Ganguly, Dr. Nandini Ghosh, Premjish Achari, Rita Datta, Samindranath Majumdar and Anuradha Ghosh, Sandip Sarkar, Soumik Nandy Majumdar, Sunanda K Sanyal, and Uma Prakash, for taking out time from their busy schedules for this issue.
Hope this issue, as always satisfies your art-diet for the month. Happy reading.