Vasudeo S Gaitonde Shatters Contemporary Indian Art Auction Record

Vasudeo S Gaitonde

Christie’s has recorded the highest total sales figures for an auction in India. Their third sale totalled INR 97,69,90,000 / $14.7million,  well above the pre-sale high estimate of INR 75,06,30,000 becoming the highest total for any auction held in India.

95% of the lots sold, in line with the results of the previous annual auctions. Strong bidding was seen across all price points from clients representing four continents – a demonstration of the international demand for this category, reflected in the demand for the top lot this evening. Five bidders, on the telephones and in the room, battled for Untitled, an oil by the modern master Vasudeo S. Gaitonde (1924-2001), painted in 1995 which soared above its pre-sale estimate to sell for INR 29,30,25,000 ($4,416,502), breaking the previous world auction record (INR 23,70,25,000 / $3.7 million) for the artist and for the category set by Christie’s at the inaugural India sale in 2013. The previous record was $4.01m for a work by Goan artist Francis Newton Souza.

V S Gaitonde is considered to be one of India’s leading contemporary artists and their greatest abstract painter. He grew up in Nagpur in the western region of India and studied at the J. J. School of Art. In 1947, he was invited to join the Progressive Artist Group (M. F. Husain and S. H. Raza were also prominent members) and went on to become one of its leading figures. He died in 2001

What was so progressive about his work? We asked Arun Vadehra, a close friend of Gaitonde’s and whose gallery represents his work, to elaborate: ‘Gaitonde is perhaps the boldest artist of the Progressive generation,’ he told us. ‘In choosing the abstract form in art, Gaitonde took the road less travelled, especially by Indian artists of his generation, and devoted his skill in pursuing the art of painting as painting in itself. A visceral phenomenon of colour and technique was all that was needed. This uncoupling of the consciousness of subject away from the canvas took deep courage.’

“As leaders in the field of Indian modern and contemporary art, the team have proven that  their strategy of ensuring we offer works of the best quality, competitively priced and with great provenance continues to be a winning formula for our clients. The results speak for themselves – 73% of lots sold above estimate, 9 new artist’s records and, a first this year, a consolidation of our position in India with the addition of 28 lots of classical art within our sales. With each sale, our collectors here increase in number and appetite and the demand for works of top quality is there to be met. The whole team would also like to thank all of those bidders this evening who competed for the 6 works kindly donated by leading contemporary artists and galleries which, when combined with Christie’s promise to match the buyer’s premium, raised INR36,07,500 for victims of the Chennai floods. The funds will be shared jointly between Bhoomika Trust and Blue Cross India.” William Robinson, International Head of World Art


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