Anish Kapoor – the experience of vision

[15 Mar 2011]


The Indian artist Anish Kapoor is the next artist selected for the Monumenta exhibition in Paris (11 May to 23 June). The challenge is considerable as it involves filling the vast space (13,500 m²) under the great glass-dome roof (reaching 45 metres high) at the Grand Palais in Paris. This fourth edition of the Monumenta exhibition follows that of the German Painter Anselm KIEFER in 2007, the American sculptor Richard SERRA in 2008 and the French artist Christian BOLTANSKI in 2010. For Anish KAPOOR this will be his first major show in Paris for 30 years.

Sculpture boom goes hand in hand with Indian art boom
Apart from the maturity of his work that has earned Kapoor international recognition and a solid demand base, Kapoor has also benefited from the spectacular increase in the prices of sculptures (Modern and Contemporary) and the effervescence generated by the emergence of young Indian artists on the global market.
In fact, during the decade before the recent crisis (1998-2008), the price index for Indian Contemporary art shot up 700% and the prices of sculpted works climbed +91% (all periods and origins combined). The success of three dimensional works (and multiples) was confirmed by a number of spectacular auction records in 2010, including €66.4m for Alberto GIACOMETTI’s L’Homme qui marche I and €43.2m for Amedeo MODIGLIANI’s Tête on 14 June 2010 at Christie’s in Paris. This artistic medium would not have dared aspire to such lofty hammer prices at the beginning of the 2000s.

At the same time, Kapoors’ top-end market rapidly accelerated during the last two years before crisis (2006-2008) with a new personal record being set each year. As soon as they hit the auction market in 2006, his alabaster sculptures (series themed around emptiness) fetched increasingly higher prices: one sold for $2m vs. an estimate of $350,000 – $450,000 on 14 November 2006 at Sotheby’s NY); another fetched $2.5m exactly a year later at the same auctioneer, and a third signed the artist’s world record at $3.4 m (£1.72 m) on 1 July 2008 at Sotheby’s in London, the artist’s primary market (half of his works sell in London).
And… these new records pulled up the prices of his multiples. Between 2004 and 2008 the prices of certain works like Blood Solid, a lacquered red bronze made in a limited edition of 8 copies tripled. It first sold for $80,000 in 2004, then for the equivalent of $170,000 in October 2006, and then for $250,000 on 15 May 2008.

After a brief freeze at the end of 2008 (his Mountain was estimated at $1.8m – $2.6m and bought in at Bonhams Dubai in November), Kapoor’s market recovered its wings and its 7-figure auction results (the latest has been for an alabaster sculpture measuring approximately 50cm high, Untitled, on 15 February 2011 at Sotheby’s in London which fetched £660,000). Considered the father of Contemporary Indian art, his current exhibitions suggest further records in the not too distant future.

Indian art celebrated in 2011
Two majestic exhibitions will take place around the world in 2011 to show off a new generation of Indian artists. The first, entitled Indian Highway IV is currently visible at the Lyon Museum of Contemporary Art (24/02/2011 to 31/07/2011) and will then travel to Europe, South America and Asia. After London, Oslo, Herning, and Lyon, it will be mounted in Rome, Moscow, Singapore, Hong Kong, Sao Paulo and Delhi. In addition, between May and September 2011, the Paris Centre Pompidou will finally (initially planned for 2010) be hosting Paris Delhi Bombay, l’Harmonie des contraires. This event, focused on creative and geographical exchanges, will then be relocated to New Delhi.