Indian Art Scene in Upheaval

With the growing wealth of India’s nouveau riche, it was inevitable that some of the money would go into art.

But the explosion in demand for Indian art by Indians – both the homegrown variety and the so-called NRIs (non-resident Indians or the diaspora) – has surprised many including some of the artists themselves.

Prices for works by unknown artists are going through the roof.

New galleries are opening in Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata while the old ones are moving into bigger digs.

Exhibitions of Indian art have become frequent events in India, U.S. and Europe.

This is a heady moment for Indian artists. Almost like Paris in the 1920s. 

In its October 7, 2007 Sunday edition, the New York Times examines the recent upheavals in the Indian arts scene:

The Indian art world has more than changed. It has exploded. Prices have increased tenfold since 2002. In the last two years alone, they have nearly doubled. Works by India’s top-selling contemporary artists — Atul Dodiya and Subodh Gupta are the names most often cited — can fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars. The auction price of paintings by the older generation of great Indian modernists, like M. F. Husain or F. N. Souza, can easily pass a million dollars — hardly uncommon for leading Western artists but staggering in a country where the average income among the 1.1 billion residents is about $820 a year.

But the astronomical prices and the gossip about that new hot artist on the parties circuit mask the woeful infrastructure for art in India.

Lack of good art schools, curators, enough funding, contemporary art museums or educated criticism frustrates many.

As the NYT piece discovers, the contemporary Indian arts scene is:

in upheaval, straining to reinvent itself for the 21st century

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