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Works by Subodh Gupta: Buyers Can’t Get Enough

An eventful couple of years have energized the market for works by New Delhi artist Subodh Gupta (b. 1964), whose following includes collectors in Asia, Europe and the U.S.

NEW YORK—An eventful couple of years have energized the market for works by New Delhi artist Subodh Gupta (b. 1964), whose following includes collectors in Asia, Europe and the U.S.

Visitors to the 2005 Venice Biennale saw the artist’s hanging sculpture tower of stainless-steel cooking pots, Tiled Curry, 2005. A year later at Christie’s, the piece fetched $144,000 from New York City contemporary art collector Ranbir Singh, far surpassing the high estimate of $30,000.

Shows in London, Moscow, Miami and New York have added to the rising tide of demand for Gupta’s pieces. “I have none available, and the waiting list is probably 20 people,” says Jack Shainman, of the Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

Two of Gupta’s sculptural works, Curry 2 and Bucket, 2005, were featured by the gallery Art & Public, Geneva, at the Frieze Art Fair, London, in 2005. They sold for $50,000 and $70,000, respectively, reports gallerist Robert Gomez-Godoy.

In 2006, Art & Public displayed two Gupta paintings (each priced at $146,000) at the FIAC (International Fair of Contemporary Art) in Paris and 10 sculptures (ranging in price from $50,000/80,000) at Art Basel; all of them found buyers. Art & Public has represented the artist in Europe since 1999, when prices were a third of their current level, says Gomez-Godoy.

Chicago art dealer Julie Walsh had included Gupta’s wall-mounted, stainless-steel sculpture Chimta, date, composed of kitchen tongs among her offerings. But then “I decided to hold onto it. I really liked it and thought it would be difficult to get another one like it,” says Walsh, who bought the work herself despite interest from a half-dozen or so buyers.

All ten sculptures in the artist’s first solo show at the Jack Shainman Gallery in 2005 fell to private buyers; and the gallerist’s one untitled sculptural work by Gupta found a buyer for $198,360 at the 2007 Armory Show, Manhattan.

India Through Gupta’s Eyes

Gupta works in a variety of two- and three-dimensional media—paintings (priced from $60,000/180,000), photographs ($10,000/20,000) and sculptures (about $60,000/583,600), as well as performances captured on videotape ($26,448). He creates images of what he sees as the frictions caused by a rapidly globalizing society—using items common to rural India, from milk buckets and kitchen utensils to cow dung and scooters, to highlight his view of India’s shifting sense of what comprises “home.”

Gupta’s most recent works are sculptures created in bright, shiny stainless steel, cast aluminum and cast bronze. Next February, however, only his paintings will be displayed at a Shainman Gallery solo show.

Shainman has been Gupta’s principal dealer in North America since 2003. Besides Art & Public in Geneva, the artist is represented internationally by In Situ, Paris, and Nature Morte, New Delhi.

A limited number of Gupta’s works have appeared at auction, with the highest price, $480,000, earned for the 21-foot-high sculpture Giant Leap of Faith, 2006, last February at Christie’s, which exceeded the auctioneer’s $200,000/300,000 estimate.

Saffronart, the Mumbai (formerly Bombay) online auctioneer, also has produced strong

secondary-market interest in the works of Gupta. At its recent March sale, three of the artist’s untitled sculptures each took $109,250, $148,350 and $173,837 (prices include a 10 percent buyer’s premium).

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