welcome to collectors mind

This is a forum for sharing knowledge, gaining insights and shaping opinions. We will not sit on the fence here or play favorites. The language of art has changed in a blink of a year– today there are market makers, power brokers, savvy investors, flippers, fakes and fund managers. Collectors are nearly extinct. Why? Because collectors can see and COLLECTORS MIND. So together, let’s take a small step to make today’s buyers into tomorrow’s collectors. The future of art depends on it!

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Indian Section of the Christies Dubai Sale

Several people have been asked me to specifically comment on the Indian section of the Dubai sale. I must say that I was reluctant to oblige at first but the thought of putting forth a point of view that is undoubtedly subjective yet without bias seemed to be the need of the hour in this overheated art market so there is the way I see it.

There are a total of 60 works from India with an overall high estimate of $4,514,000 or just over $75,000 per lot on average. This time Christies is betting heavy on abstraction with nearly a third of the lots and half of the estimate accounted for by Ram Kumar and Raza. FN Souza is only partially represented with 3 landscapes and one still life but that is more because his erotically charged nudes are out of bounds for sale in Dubai and certainly not because he has gone out of fashion

Ruins (lot 123) by Ram Kumar makes a reappearance with a low estimate of $100,000. This work went unsold at the Christies September 2006 sale in NY where it was estimated at $150,000~$200,000 and chances are that this work of above average quality will not be overlooked in Dubai.

This sale also features a Justin Ponmay that was originally bought at the Saffronart auction in Dec 2005 for just over $12,000 and has come up on resale with an estimate of $8,000~$10,000. It is one of the few contemporary works in this sale and considering Justin’s growing presence at international fairs this bet should pay off for the consignors

SH Raza (lot 339)
Rajput House is a classic example of why Raza is considered a master colorist. This work from the 60’s with a high estimate of $180,000 should easily touch $350,000. I also like Lumiere D'ete (lot 319) but works like this one have been seen too often at the auctions so does not get the top vote

MF Husain (lot 341)
An undeserving work to adorn the catalogue back cover. It’s a flashy painting with an all too familiar subject in an auction friendly color that is certain to sell well but fails to impress. The one thing in favor is that it is instantly recognizable even at 20 yards and should please those in the hunt for signature trophies.

Other duds include th untitled alpine landscape (lot 372) by Souza and B Prabha's Fishergirl (lot 362)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Christies Dubai auction beckons change: will there be any takers?

Christie’s sales in Dubai dedicated to International Modern and Contemporary Art on Thursday 1st February 2007 only reinforces the growing importance of Asia and the Middle East to its top line growth.

The catalogue with 195 lots on offer from 21 different countries will undoubtedly have appeal to both the resident Muslim as well as well healed ex pats from all over the world that call Dubai their home. The Indian contingent is strong this time around too with over 60 works which is the most from any single country.

This cleverly crafted catalogue also features single works by European and US superstars such as Bridget Riley and Gary Hume from Britain, Andy Warhol from the US and Gerhard Richter and Andreas Gursky from Germany - all big names that come with even bigger bragging rights. However, some of the more interesting works are from Iran and Syria and to a lesser degree Lebanon and Egypt.

The photo works are especially strong particularly the ones by Shirin Neshat which are my top picks. Amongst the Syrian artists, young self taught Subhan Adam (lot 250) is also quite promising and those looking to shop in Dubai have an opportunity to put on the hat of a true collector, buy with their eyes rather than with their ears and take full advantage to extend their collection beyond the usual suspects.

Take for instance the works by Chafic Abboud who had a conspicuously similar journey to that of Syed Haider Raza. Both studied at the Ecole Des Beaux-Arts and choose to settle in France while still in their twenties. Compare lots 346 and 339 by Raza from the 60’s to lots 239 and 240 by Abboud also from the 60’s and you will find that except the price, there is not much separating the oeuvre of these two French artists of Indian and Lebanese origin.

A head to head comparison like this is probably a bit unfair and is highlighted more to illustrate a point about the psychology of buying and how equally good (or bad) works depending on your point of view can be had for a lot less money if buyers are only willing to overlook less significant attributes such as the signature and artist's country of origin as a guide post to decision making.

Art is nothing if it is not about following your heart and taking a risk so study all the sections of the catalogue - who knows perhaps you will discover a diamond in the rough, or something more precious. Yourself!