Contemporary Indian artists


Every Friday fortnight Artprice posts a theme-based auction ranking. This week, the ten best auction results in 2010 for works by Contemporary Indian artists.

Boosted by specialised sales, Contemporary Indian art has shown an impressive progression: over the ten years to January 2008, our price index for this category posted growth of 830%! Among the stars of 2010 auction sales there were four Indian artists: Bharti KHER, Anish KAPOOR, Raqib SHAW and Subodh GUPTA.

Top 10 : best auction results in 2010 for works by contemporary Indian artists

Rank Artist Hammer Price Artwork Sale
1 Bharti KHER $1 280 610 The Skin speaks a Language not its own 06/28/10 (Sotheby’s London)
2 Anish KAPOOR $1 200 000 Alba (2003) 11/09/10 (Sotheby’s NY)
3 Anish KAPOOR $900 000 Untitled (2005) 05/12/10 (Sotheby’s NY)
4 Anish KAPOOR $828 905 Green rainbow mirror (2005) 06/30/10 (Christie’s London)
5 Raqib SHAW $751 728 Garden of Earthly Delights XIV 02/11/10 (Christie’s London)
6 Anish KAPOOR $675 000 Untitled (2007) 05/13/10 (Phillips de Pury NY)
7 Anish KAPOOR $657 762 Goddess (Void) (1991) 02/11/10 (Christie’s London)
8 Subodh GUPTA $638 528 Chimta (2003) 06/10/10 (Christie’s London)
9 Anish KAPOOR $595 118 Flash Rainflow (2005) 02/11/10 (Christie’s London)
10 Anish KAPOOR $525 000 Ruby (2000) 05/13/10 (Sotheby’s NY)

Bharti Kher (1969)
Bharti Kher, born in London and based in New Delhi, is one of the generation of “emerging” artists who made their auction debuts in 2006-2007. Her affordable works (between €7,000 and €30,000 on average) escaped the excessive speculation of the time. Today her auction prices are on a relatively gentle ascension. On 28 June 2010, Bharti Kher posted a new record when her The Skin speaks a Language not its own fetched the equivalent of $1.2m at Sotheby’s in London. This single result gave her first place in the ranking ahead of her artist husband Subodh Gupta.
The career of this Indian artist, who is today one of the world’s highest priced female artists (Top 10: Women Power), is now international. Her work is currently exhibited (until 31 July 2011) at the Lyon Contemporain Art Museum as part of Indian Highway IV (travelling exhibition), and will also be on show in the Paris Delhi Bombay exhibition that opens on 25 May 2011 at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, before being transferred to New Delhi.

Anish Kapoor (1954)
Anish Kapoor, a British artist born in India, is one of the greatest creators of our time. The older of the four artists in this ranking, he has had a well-established auction record for over 20 years. Considered the father of Contemporary Indian art, Kapoor has enjoyed a spectacular increase in the prices of his sculptures (+91% between 1998 and 2008, all periods combined). If the crisis froze the buying for the artist’s top-end works, it certainly thawed in 2010 with seven results above half a million dollars (see table) including one above the million-dollar line for his sculpture Alba ($1.2 m at Sotheby’s New York on 9 November 2010).
Turner Prize winner in 1991, Kapoor has since become an internationally recognised artist. He is the next artist selected for the Monumenta exhibition in Paris (11 May to 23 June). This fourth edition of the Monumenta will be Kapoor’s first major exhibition in Paris for thirty years. (see Anish Kapoor – the experience of vision)

Raqib Shaw (1974)
The youngest artist in the ranking, Raqib Shaw, is a 37 year-old Indian settled in London since 1998 and supported by the White Cube Gallery (of Damien HIRST fame, among others). His best result in 2010 was £480,000 (est. £500,000 -£700,000) for his Garden of Earthly Delights XIV.
However, although relegated to fifth place last year, Shaw still holds the all-time record for 2007 for a Contemporary Indian work of art since his Garden of earthy Delights III fetched £2.4m ($4.8m) at Sotheby’s in London on 12 October 2007.

Subodh Gupta (1964)
Subodh Gupta perfectly illustrates the price explosion of Contemporary Indian art. Unknown to the international market before 2005, when his 1990s paintings were changing hands for between €4,000 and €10,000, he had a number of major shows in 2006 (New York, Paris, Brussels, Istanbul, New Delhi, Peking, London, etc.) and his price index rocketed. After the catastrophic Contemporary art sales in November 2008 – more than a million dollars worth of Gupta’s works were bought in – it wasn’t until the summer of 2010 that he saw the first signs of an auction recovery: his majestic Chimpta doubled its estimate with a winning bid of £440,000 (roughly $640,000) at Christie’s on 10 June, giving him eighth place in the ranking. The crisis appears to have been nothing more than a passing storm on the market for this artist whose canvases fetch higher prices than his sculptures (which scored two 7-figure results in May and July 2008).

Anish Kapoor, Bharti Kher, Raqib Shaw and Subodh Gupta are the winning quarto of the market for Contemporary Indian art. Their works are also presented at prestigious sales from Hong Kong to New York including London, Dubai and Paris, and exhibited all over the world.