How to Buy Indian Modern Art for your House

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Jehangir Sabavala, The Festival, circa 1942, was offered at AstaGuru's Collectors Choice Modern Indian Art Auction in June 2021. Image courtesy of AstaGuru
Jehangir Sabavala, The Festival, circa 1942, was offered at AstaGuru’s Collectors Choice Modern Indian Art Auction in June 2021. Image courtesy of AstaGuru

The art you choose to put on your wall will always be more than a decor piece. Artworks not only aesthetically transform space but also breathe your personality and taste into your living spaces. And if you are looking to add a layer of culture, history, heritage, and prestige, there’s no better option than having the works of Indian Modern Masters adorn your house. 

M F Husain, Untitled (Calcutta Series), Acrylic on Paper, 1990, was offered at AstaGuru’s Collectors Choice Modern Indian Art Auction in June, Image courtesy of AstaGuru

Capturing India’s History 

Indian Modern paintings and sculptures are great options for collecting valuable and stirring art for your home. The quintessential attributes of Modernism in India can be broadly characterized as eclectic assimilation of Western techniques with Indian tradition and temperament in the backdrop of schismatic socio-political events. 

Inspired by the various events in the last century, the canvases from this period essentially capture the ideas, sensibilities, beliefs, and scenes that reflect the making of India. The independence of the country in 1947 was one such development that gave artists a newfound vision of Indian art. Free of any constraints, the Modern artists created works that celebrated the spirit of freedom on their canvases. Therefore, buying an Indian Modern artwork is a matter of great prestige, as it is a preservation of India’s dynamic history on your walls. 

Various sensibilities 

Before you start collecting art, it’s essential to know that there is an array of artists with different styles, techniques, mediums, and genres under Modernism. Just a peek into their works, and you will realize how each artist had their individualistic artistic expression.

Meera Mukherjee, Platform, Bronze, was offered at AstaGuru’s Collectors Choice Modern Indian Art Auction in June 2021. Image courtesy of AstaGuru

The figurative works of pioneers such as Jamini Roy and Nandalal Bose present the timelessness of folk art, Indian mythology, and pastoral serenity. Paintings by Amrita Sher-Gil and B. Prabha capture the plight of women in portraits in a diverse and rich color palette. Further, the bold and vibrant figurative works by M.F. Husain, Tyeb Mehta, and F.N. Souza among others, are some of the most collectible pieces of artwork. 

The abstract works by V.S. Gaitonde, Prabhakar Barwe, H.A. Gade, S.H. Raza, Ganesh Haloi, Prabhakar Kolte, and many more are great statements pieces with profound thought. In addition to artistic expression, these works also have the magnetism of the intellect. 

Moreover, landscape paintings from the oeuvre of Jehangir Sabavala, Sailoz Mookherjea, and Ram Kumar, among others are also illustrious artworks. 

Connection is the key 

S H Raza, Nidhi, Acrylic on canvas, 1990, was offered at AstaGuru’s Collectors Choice Modern Indian Art Auction in June 2021. Image courtesy of AstaGuru

Once you have decided on your preferred style and medium, you can look for artworks that spark a connection with you. One of the most important aspects of buying art is to feel enamored by it. If it is going to sit on your wall and share the space with you, it should definitely be a piece of work that you are in awe of. 

The provenance will also strengthen your connection with artworks. Collectors love to gain insight into the previous owners of the paintings and its history. It adds a charm to the acquisition.

Acquire from trustworthy sources 

Prabhakar Barwe, Ivory Eyes, 1976, Enamel on canvas, was offered at AstaGuru's Collectors Choice Modern Indian Art Auction in June 2021. Image courtesy of AstaGuru
Prabhakar Barwe, Ivory Eyes, 1976, Enamel on canvas, was offered at AstaGuru’s Collectors Choice Modern Indian Art Auction in June 2021. Image courtesy of AstaGuru

Since most of the Modern Masters are not practicing anymore and there is a high demand for their important works, the chances of directly coming across their paintings are quite bleak. The two ideal sources from where you can get the paintings are art galleries and auction houses. 

Written by Sneha Gautam

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