India’s 5 most expensive Contemporary Artists
Subodh Gupta ranked No. 117 in Artprice’s Top 500 for 2012-2013, with an auction turnover of EUR 1.25 million, a top hammer price of EUR 249,000 and 17 lots sold, making him the third most expensive Indian artist in that year. His record breaking sale of all time was set at Saffron Art auction in June 2008, when a painting featuring images of tin cans, pots and other metal kitchen utensils fetched USD 1,427,500, surpassing his previous USD 1.2 million sales at Christie’s London and Hong Kong. From 2005 to 2008, his selling price at auction for an oil painting increased from USD 23,126 to USD1.4million—a whopping 5,000% increase. In 2007, ArtReview Power 100 list included him as one of the three most powerful figures in Indian contemporary art.
Anish Kapoor ranks No. 11 in Artprice’s Top 500 for 2012-2013, with an auction turnover of EUR12.3 and the top hammer price of EUR1.12. In 2012-13, Kapoor sold 49 lots at auction, while in 2013-14 he only sold 35. Nevertheless, he still tops the list for the most expensive contemporary Indian artists. His popularity extends far beyond Europe and the United States, to now encompass the thriving art and collecting scene of the Middle East. In October 2014, Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Auction in Doha set a record for Kapoor’s ‘Untitled’ (2009), sold at USD1.595 million, the highest price achieved for a work by the artist in the Middle East. Kapoor’s all time record auction price of GBP1.94 million was set in July 2008.
Atul Dodiya doesn’t appear in the Art price’s Top 500 ranks, but he is often mentioned among the most popular and sought after contemporary Indian artists. His work can reach the range of USD500,000 at auction, as seen as early as 2007 at Christie’s Hong Kong Asian Contemporary Art sale, when ‘Lodging in Somnath’ (1989) fetched USD 465,818. Dodiya’s evocative paintings are seen in auctions that feature some of the most important and highly prized Indian modernists, like Tyeb Mehta and Francis Newton Souza. Dodiya is, in fact, influenced by modernist currents and Indian modernist masters, but re-interprets their traditions through a contemporary perspective, engaging with both political and art history in a way that entwines global and public memory.
Shilpa Gupta is the youngest artist in this list, nonetheless she has risen to stardom in recent years for her cutting-edge multimedia practice that woos audiences worldwide, including at events such as the prestigious Venice Biennale. She is not part of Art price’s Top 500 list, but she is often mentioned amongst the most expensive and popular artists, and has featured at auction with them since 2008. Gupta’s work at auction at Christie’s and Sotheby’s have commanded prices up to around USD 50,000, such as her ‘Untitled’ C-print on canvas sold in 2008, , the first year the artist appeared at auction. Gupta is a highly sought after Indian artist who works with top galleries and is commissioned for prestigious worldwide contemporary art events. At this stage of her career, her most important platform is the primary market, where she is popular with both private and public collections.
Ravinder Reddy ranked No. 322 in Artprice’s Top 500 for 2012-13 with an auction turnover of EUR 325,000 and a top hammer price of EUR 216,000, making him the fourth most expensive Indian artist – after Kapoor, Kher and Gupta – for that year. Although he is not listed among 2014 Top 500, his sculptures of deity heads in bright colours reminiscent of traditional Hindu statuary art continue to be very popular. ‘Lakshmi Devi’ (2003), a golden head sculpture, fetched as high as USD 312,000 back in 2007 at Christie’s New York sale of Modern and Contemporary Indian Art. ‘Family’, a unique work from 1997 and a modern day adaptation of Chola style depictions of Shiva, Parvati and Skanda (Somaskanda) was sold for USD 341,000 at Sotheby’s New York sale of The Amaya Collection of Modern and Contemporary Indian Art in 2013.
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