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Auction Alert: Master stroke

LiveMint logoLiveMint 31-03-2017 Sumana Mukherjee

Previews to auctions might be commonplace, but multi-city previews, for which artworks valued at crores of rupees are carted around India, are not. Yet, for the third time since August, DAG Modern is doing just that: taking 75 lots of artworks to six cities so that residents of cities other than Delhi and Mumbai can get a look at the masters of 20th century Indian art.

Among the 75 lots are works by Progressives S.H. Raza, M.F. Husain, K.H. Ara and V.S. Gaitonde, Bengal school stalwarts like Abanindranath Tagore, Nandalal Bose and Jamini Roy, Baroda school co-founder Shanti Dave, Group 1890 members Ambadas Khobragade and Jyoti Bhatt and many others, carefully curated to represent the last century. There are early works by Amrita Sher-Gil and Manjit Bawa, an atypical Hemen Majumdar—a watercolour and gouache depiction of four cats salivating over a realistic still-life of a lobster, titled A Dry Feast—besides signature styles from F.N. Souza, Bikash Bhattacharjee, Ram Kumar and Laxman Pai as well as The Ramp, a stunning 177.2-inch tall sculpture by K.S. Radhakrishnan.

“I really wish people wouldn’t ask me my favourites from among these,” groans Kishore Singh, DAG Modern president and curator of the collection. “Most of these works come from our own inventory. We have researched them for months and we want each of them to go to a special home.”

The fact that most of the works are sourced from DAG’s deep inventory—somewhere around the 30,000 mark—is the reason why there is no buyer’s premium to be paid on sale; the premium, usually 20-25% of the sale price, traditionally covers administrative costs for the auctioneer. The straight-up prices listed in the catalogue, both the lower and upper limits, are a strong draw for the newbie investor/collector, DAG Modern’s target audience.

“It is not just the buyers we’re looking at, but also bidders,” says Singh, adding that they want to build up the base of, and engagement with, art enthusiasts around India.

Auction on 24 April at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel, Mumbai. Public previews at Bengaluru (Taj West End, 2 April), Hyderabad (Park Hyatt, 7 April), Delhi (The Leela Palace, 13 April), Pune (The Westin, 19 April), and Mumbai (Taj Mahal Palace, 23 April). The Chennai preview was on 30 March. Reserve prices from Rs2lakh to Rs2.5crore.

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