You could buy a masterpiece or the work of an upcoming artist, but consider these tips to be a connoisseur
Nirmalya Kumar, professor of marketing at Singapore Management University, has a famed collection of Jamini Roy paintings. His favourite is Widow, Roy’s painting of a woman wearing a white sari with a black border.
“I did not ever intend to concentrate on Jamini Roy or Rabindranath Tagore, and in any case, am not a person who buys into labels such as Bengal School. Instead, I focus on individual artists. Jamini was the first Indian artist I fell in love with,” he said.
“Roy’s painting is his statement on the emancipation of widows. As a collector, this painting had everything one covets: perfect condition, great execution, a strong message and clear provenance. How could I not fall in love?” said Kumar.
There is an art to choosing art: pick something you enjoy looking at and that compliments your home. It could be a Jamini Roy painting or the work of an upcoming artist.
Documentary photographer Aashna Khurana recently gifted art to friends and relatives choosing work reflecting their personality. “We opted for canvas-based acrylic art. We also are in love with digital art. For me, even photography is a kind of an art and I love documentary photography which is really a moment captured in time,” she said.
Khurana, creative director at a Gurgaon resort, recommends that people invest in photographs that tell “stories”. Her pictures capture the Surajkund Mela, an artistic door in Budapest and a woman sleeping in a bus: images that are art.
At home with art
Research is the best way to know the art you want for your home collection. Modern, contemporary, traditional, colonial, art deco, pop art: these are just some genres. There are two aspects to art: quantitative and qualitative. Qualitative means the work representing your beliefs and creating an environment that represents who you are or want to be. The quantitative part is about commerce: the art’s value, supply and demand, and interest in the artist.
In India, there are two kinds of art buyers. “One is the art collector—they invest in masterpieces. They collect art just as one would buy jewellery. They follow the maker and their journey irrespective of whether it blends with their home interior or not. The other is where people buy art that matches the interior of their homes – the furniture, the curtains etc,” said Ashwani Kumar Prithviwasi, founder and director, Delhi Collage of Art, an institute that trains artists.
Your first artwork could be a painting, sculpture, print, or installation piece, selected considering the size and space it will be up at. A painting that fits in your sitting room might be lost in a bigger space, like an office foyer or a shared building.
Art doesn’t mean a beautiful different thing in your room: it can be peaceful, but challenging and disruptive. Artist Raghava K K explained how dark paintings could energise someone and make them confront their fears. “I am not looking at paintings as just beautiful but transformative, that help one change and that is the power of art, it inspires change,” he said.
Art and the market
The rule to collecting art is to select a piece that you are prepared to live with. “Don’t follow trends, whatever one buys should be a reflection of one’s own taste. But one must buy the best quality of a particular artist’s work that one can afford. Buy from a well-known gallery and see enough of an artist’s work that you are familiar enough with their oeuvre before you decide to acquire that artist’s work,” said Shivajirao Gaekwar, specialist, modern and contemporary South Asian Art at Sotheby’s Mumbai.
“Galleries are very happy to encourage young first-time buyers and will often extend payment terms so young collectors can pay over a period of time. Art doesn’t need to blend with the décor of the home, it needs to reflect the taste of the owner,” he said.
Artists usually price their work at the market rate for their style. They often use the area formula to calculate the price of their artwork or use an hourly rate formula. Other pricing parameters include exclusivity, cost of material and trends.
Artist Shibani Sehgal said her compatriots charge hourly for commissioned work. It is similar to the area formula: an artist can charge anything from a base level of Rs 5,000 per sq ft to Rs 15,000 per sq ft or Rs 50,000 per sq ft.
Rarity, the artist’s recognition, and market demand shape the price of an artwork. “A lot of artists are using acrylic as a medium and are working on canvas. More artists are moving towards mixed media and installations. But there is no shortcut. Each individual needs to experiment with different mediums to understand what is the medium that they really enjoy,” said Akshat Sinha, chief executive officer of Delhi Street Art, which uses graffiti in public spaces to promote art.
|Category of Art
|Price (in Rs)
|10,000- 1 lakh
|50,000- 5 lakh
|Textile works as art
|50,000- 10 lakh
|2 lakh – 50 lakh
|20,000 – 2 lakh
|5 lalh – 1 crore
|70 lakh – 5 crore
Source: Market Research