Art lists and the questions that arise

By Georgina Maddox | The Hindu

The third edition of the Hurun India Art List was released last week. Technically, the artist who topped it this year as well, Anish Kapoor, with sales worth ₹20.64 crore at public auctions last year, doesn’t even live in India. The London-based sculptor’s conceptual work has made it to the Venice Biennale and the Royal Academy of Arts (the first living artist to be given a solo there), and he has won renown with landmarks such as the Cloud Gate in Chicago and Britain’s ArcelorMittal Orbit. Interestingly, there’s no mention of Hurun on his social media. One wonders if it matters to him or if he is even aware of it.

Many artists are not. When I reached out to Vasundhara Tewari-Broota, whose husband Rameshwar Broota is number three on the list, she was surprised. “He is not someone who looks at these lists,” she tells The Hindu Weekend. How about the news that she has clocked in at number eight on Hurun’s Women Artists’ list? “It is a pleasant surprise,” smiles the artist, whose figurative paintings explore the psycho-political existence of the female body. But she quickly adds that “it brings me back to the old argument: the artist never gets a share in these astronomical sales [that puts them on these lists in the first place]. They have usually sold the artwork long ago for a sum that looks meagre when placed next to the current auctioned price, which is usually in crores of rupees.”

1 December 2021