Contending that art cannot be divorced from the people who are buying it, Art Institute Chicago's curator Madhuvanti Ghose says Indian artists are going to find it "difficult to be completely at the top" until the art market in the country goes up.
"You are seeing the trend of Chinese contemporary art market going up and up and until that happens to India, whether that happens at all or not, Indian artists are going to find it difficult to be completely at the top. Art can't be divorced from people who buy the art," Ghose said here at the conclusion of a lecture at the Indian Museum on Wednesday.
Ghose is the Alsdorf Associate curator of Indian, Southeast Asian, Himalayan and Islamic Art at the Institute, which is the second largest art museum in the US housing a world-renowned encyclopaedic collection.
She was responding to a question from the audience on the scenario regarding Indian artists.
Asked to elaborate on the market trends, she told IANS: "The trend in the world is... the people of a particular culture tend to buy the art of their culture, so as economies develop, the art of those economies tend to be the ones that have the highest price at that particular point."
To buttress her point, Ghose cited the example of dominance of Western art with regards to the link between economy and the art market.
"For example, that is the reason why Western art dominates not just in prices but also the canon of art history because it has been written by them for themselves. It was never meant to be holistic and look at the rest of the world. That way we will have to do the hard work."
Similarly, she said, in the 1970s and 1980s as the Japanese economy developed, Japanese art became highly priced because the Japanese people were buying it and anything the Japanese were touching, its (price) was becoming quite high.
"Later on when the Korean economy went up, Korean art became very collectible. It was the Koreans who were buying it. So that's the phenomena which you are seeing with Chinese art. And Indian art, obviously is not there yet. If it is to come up, it's going to be a question of what we see in the economy," she said.
Ghose delivered a lecture on "India's greatest artist, M.F. Husain and his Indian Civilisation series".
In 2008, London-based Indian art collectors Usha and Lakshmi N. Mittal commissioned Husain to create a series celebrating India's rich and diverse history and culture, from its earliest civilisation of Mohenjo Daro to Mahatma Gandhi.
At the time of the artist's death in 2011, eight of the 32 triptychs had been completed; they were the last works of the icon.
These eight triptychs as part of the ongoing "India Modern: The Paintings of M.F. Husain" exhibit at the institute mark the first time the series is being displayed in the US.
They are also the centrepiece of the Art Institute of Chicago's celebration of the 70th anniversary of India's Independence.
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