Contemporary Indian art



Long considered as just one of the emerging movements in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), Indian Contemporary art has managed to carve out a distinct place in the global art market with its own independent identity.
This identity is, however, highly dependent on foreign market places. In fact, over the first half of 2011, the 100 top-rated Indian artists generated 97% of their income in the United States and the UK.

While Chinese artists enjoy very strong local demand, Indian contemporary artists have to rely on international demand. Whereas the most expensive Chinese artist over the last twelve months, ZENG Fanzhi, generated 93% of his sales revenue in Hong Kong and China, Anish KAPOOR, the dearest Contemporary Indian artist, realized 99% of his sales revenue from the United States and the UK over the same period.
Despite the recent development of auction houses in India, they are still far from the striking power of Chinese intermediaries (today, thirteen of the world’s twenty largest auction houses for Contemporary art are located in China).
India therefore more closely resembles the Brazilian and Russian models, with an emerging local demand and a very strong international representation.

Indian art exploded between 2006 and late 2008: the prices of Indian Contemporary art took off by 223% and the sales volume of India’s 100 top Contemporary artists rose 283% over the same period. The surge in Contemporary art markets in 2007/2008 resulted in lots of new records for Indian Contemporary art (seven of the ten best bids since 2005 were hammered during this period).
This made the 2009 crisis even harder for these artists who had become, in a few months, the new stars of Contemporary art (in 2007/2008, Anish Kapoor, Subodh GUPTA and Raqib SHAW occupied respectively the 18th, 24th and 34th place in the ranking of the world’s 500 top-priced Contemporary artists). The turnover of the top 100 Indian contemporary artists fell by three-quarters and in 2009/2010, Subodh Gupta and Raqib Shaw dropped back to the 60th and 77th places respectively. Indian artists occupy only four places in the Top 200, i.e. less than Indonesian artists (of whom there are five).
It was not until 2010 and the recognition of new artists (Bharti KHER scored an auction record of more than one million while Jitish KALLAT exceeded $300,000 for the first time…) that the market for Contemporary Indian art began to recover. India’s 15% GDP growth in 2010 and the extraordinary growth (of over 20%) of the number of the country’s millionaires (to more than 150,000 in 2010) fed into strong local demand on the art market and at last provided the basis for the emergence of a strong local scene.
The first half of 2011 marked the return of records. A hammer price of $2.1m for a work by Anish Kapoor became the fourth best-ever result for a work of Contemporary Indian art and was comparable to the results obtained between 2007 and 2008.
With a price index up 10% over the first nine months of the year and a total revenue for the top 100 top-priced Indian Contemporary artists already equivalent in six months to two thirds of their 2010 sales revenue, Contemporary Indian art is recovering back towards the prices seen in 2007.