AstaGuru’s Modern Indian Art Auction garners impressive sale value; creates world record for 3 artists

AstaGuru’s Modern Indian Art Online Auction concluded with outstanding results including world records for three Modern Indian artists. The auction garnered an impressive total sale value of INR 93,18,78,408 ( US$ 12,765,436) after witnessing competitive bidding for an impressive line-up of 41 iconic modern Indian masterpieces. Several of these works appeared in an auction for the first time.

Speaking about the results, Sunny Chandiramani, Vice President – Client Relations, AstaGuru Auction House said, “AstaGuru is extremely proud and humbled with the outcome of our Modern Indian Art auction. The result is a testament to AstaGuru’s legacy and leadership of offering exceptional and unique works in the modern Indian art market. With every curation, we aspire to fulfil our collectors’ sentiment to acquire distinctive artworks that are rare to come by.

With milestone creations by modern Indian artists, the auction featured several works which made their auction debut. The overwhelming response underscores the continued demand for works by the modernists that are new to the auction market and have great provenance. Moreover, three world records including a hundred year old painting by M V Dhurandhar absolutely affirms our commitment to bring the best that Indian modernism has to offer.”

Leading the auction were two paintings by artist Tyeb Mehta. Lot no.14 titled ‘Figure With Bird’ is an important masterpiece in the artist’s signature style. Executed in the year 1987, the work is a profound interpretation of Tyeb Mehta’s visual vocabulary expressed through the motif of the bird. It was realised at the value of INR ₹ 24,27,24,824 (US$ 3,324,997).

Lot no. 35 is a part of Tyeb Mehta’s famous ‘Diagonal’ series, considered a defining moment in the artist’s career. It marked a shift in style and transformed his artistic approach from hitherto expressionist works. The ‘Diagonal’ became a tool for him to define space and segment his canvases and he adopted a fresh method of working with a flatter perspective. The large-scale work titled ‘Diagonal’, created in 1973 and reaching almost 6 feet, was acquired at INR 15,93,52,869 (US$ 2,182,915). Both these works by the artist were also published in the 2005 book ‘Tyeb Mehta: Ideas Images Exchanges’ by Vadehra Art Gallery.

The auction created world records for 3 artists – N S Bendre, M V Dhurandhar and Krishen Khanna. These records further cement Modern Indian Art’s stability and growth.

Lot no. 28, N S Bendre, Untitled, circa 1980, achieved a world record price for the artist selling at INR 6,66,63,372 (US$ 913,197). The pioneer of the pointillism technique in Indian art, N S Bendre created this work during a mature phase of his career. The work appeared in an auction for the first time and celebrates N S Bendre’s mastery over the meticulous process of creating an image with intricate dot work.

An untitled vintage work dated 1921, lot no. 12, by revered old master M V Dhurandhar generated the highest sale value ever achieved at an auction for the artist with INR 5,90,59,517 (US$ 809,034). This resplendent work depicting a congregation of Hindu deities amidst alluring is a landmark example of Indian religious painting. Given the rarity of works by the artist, this painting makes for a truly special addition to an art collection. The work was also published in the book ‘M V Dhurandhar : The Romantic Realist’ by the National Gallery of Modern Art & DAG in 2018.

Lot no. 16, an untitled work by Krishen Khanna spanning nearly 10 feet sold at a world record price for the artist realising INR 3,84,78,138 (US$ 527,097). The painting from the year 1980 was executed in the artist’s signature style colour palette composed of reds, maroons, and browns. It depicts an elaborate scene featuring 13 figures, as well as two competing rams.

The auction also presented a troupe of artworks that were created during important junctures in the artists’ careers.

An important work from a very creative and experimental phase of eminent modernist Jehangir Sabavala was a part of the auction. The untitled work, lot no. 39, from the year 1974 was executed during a period when the artist was focused on creating art with a subdued colour palette, predominantly featuring tones of grey, brown, and green. It was acquired at an impressive value of INR 9,36,61,442. (US$ 1,283,033).

The auction also included several important works from different stages of legendary modernist M F Husain’s career. Lot no. 15, Untitled (Bhagavad Gita) depicts an important chapter towards the end of Hindu epic ‘Mahabharata’. Executed in a minimalist style with only three colours, the canvas shows Bhishma Pitamah on the bed of arrows. Painted in front of a live audience, the 1994 work was acquired at a value of INR 5,69,25,000 (US$ 779,794). The work was exhibited at Chester-Herwitz Gallery, Husain Doshi Gufa, Ahmedabad in 1994. Four other works by the artist were acquired exceeding their estimates.

Lot no. 30, a beautiful work created by F N Souza was executed during his years in the UK. Reminiscent of Victorian style architecture, the painting titled ‘Manor House’ from the year 1957 was acquired for INR 4,54,60,305 (US$ 622,743). The work was published in the book ‘Perspectives : The Emami Collection’ by Emami Art, Kolkata in 2018.

Another unique work from the year 1987 by leading artist Rameshwar Broota, lot no. 22, titled ‘Man,’ was acquired at INR 1,87,85,250 (US$ 257,332). Executed with a technique using a knife and blade, the work is an early genesis of the masculine figure now known as Broota’s ‘Man’.

The also showcased Avant-Garde works by more distinguished Indian modernists including Jamini Roy, Amrita Sher-Gil, Sailoz Mookherjea, Ramkinkar Baij, Jogen Chowdhury, S H Raza, Ram Kumar, K H Ara, H A Gade, Prabhakar Barwe, B Prabha, Ganesh Pyne, Bikash Bhattacharjee, Satish Gujral, Himmat Shah, Anjolie Ela Menon, Manu Parekh, and Thota Vaikuntam.

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