Friday, September 20, 2013

Bhupen Khakhar painting fetches Rs 2 cr in New York sale

Bhupen Kakkar's seminal oil-on- -canvas painting titled 'American Survey Officer' has been sold for Rs 2.54 crore (USD 401,000), almost double of what it was estimated to fetch after a prolonged battle, by six bidders at Sotheby's recent auction here.

The Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art sale held on September 18 fetched the auctioneers a total of USD 3.2 million (USD 3,261,375), well below the pre-sale estimate of USD 3.6 million to USD 5 million.

"We saw strong prices for high calibre works by senior modern artists including Bhupen Khakhar, Maqbool Fida Husain and Francis Newton Souza, reinforcing the quest for quality in the field," Priyanka Mathew, vice president, head of sales, Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art said in a statement.

"Six bidders fought for the cover lot, Bhupen Khakhar's American Survey Officer, which after a prolonged battle, sold for USD 4,001,000, almost double the pre-sale high estimate," she said.

This is the first Indian art sale in New York after the Amaya Collection sale earlier this year, the first global evening sale of Indian art which fetched almost USD 6.7 million.

According to the auctioneers, Khakkar's painting which had been estimated to fetch between USD 1,80,000- USD 2,20,000, is representative of a critical moment in the artist's career as he developed a local and idiosyncratic language for Pop Art in India.

An Untitled landscape by Francis Newton Souza, painted during his travel through Italy fetched USD 2,21,000.

However, Souza's historically significant Sabartes after Picasso; After Pablo Picasso, (estimate USD 100,000- USD 150,000) which once belonged to Harold Kovner, an American collector who was Souza's leading patron between 1956 and 1960, remained unsold.

Souza's contemporaries like M F Husain also fetched sales. Two paintings by Husain untitled "Mother Theresa" sold for USD 2,45,000 and USD 34,375 respectively.

An iconic representation by Manjit Bawa of Apu, the mascot for the 1982 Asian Games 1982 is estimated to go under the hammer for USD 200,000 to USD 280,000 fetched USD 149,000 and two works from Ram Kumar's Varanasi series fetched over USD 100,000.

A Ramachandran's 1981 dynamic six by twelve foot canvas painting "Kalinga War" sourced from a European private collection and estimated at USD 180,000- USD 200,000 did not find any buyers.

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