Art Auction

One can describe an art auction as a serious event in a glamorous setting. The process begins with sellers giving their work to the auction house and fixing a base price against their creation. Often, these are then put up for initial bidding online. The final bidding is done on the floor of the house. Over the years it has become a highly organized event, planned months in advance. The bidding begins with a mandatory speech detailing the painter and his works. After a lot of performance the hammer comes down on the highest bid and the art work is finally sold. While Sotheby’s Christies or Bonhams are pioneers in the field, home bred names such as Osian or Emami Chisel Arts Pvt Ltd have changed the face of art auctioning in India.

For those interested in the commercial aspect of the art world, they could choose to be an art dealer or an auctioneer. Art auctioning is not an easy career to take up. Since it is built on reputation, you need to have a sound knowledge of art along with a good network of collectors and buyers, It could be very lucrative then. Of course, love for art is an important aspect. But if you are with an auction house you have to weigh its economic feasibility as well. This, however, does not mean that you need to be very good with numbers. You have to be a good negotiator. You need to know the pricing very well. Director of Experimenter which provides advisory in collecting, displaying and valuations in contemporary art. It is an exciting and creative field to be in and entails a lot of traveling. The sale happens at one location but art is sourced from across the world. It gives you the scope to interact with people from diverse sections bound by a common interest.

With art auctions gaining momentum in India and increasing demand for Indian art, career prospects in this space are bright. The demand for specialists, auctioneers and others in this area is high, is what industry experts feel.

The Indian art market is divided into two broad sections, the masters and the contemporaries. While the former comprises artists who created work in the period 1950-80, the latter is made up of those who started working since the 90s.

The masters have shown a huge amount of value growth and will be in demand forever. The contemporaries on the other hand, have worked in mixed media, installations and so on but are yet to gain similar kind of acceptance. But with the economy galloping and lots of good quality work available a huge scope remains to be tapped in auctioning.

While predicting growth in percentage terms would be difficult there has been good growth in terms of value but not really in terms of the number of works and number of auctions.

One can work in various roles within an auction house – as a specialists auctioneers, advisor, developer or on the administration process end to help build a market for art. Experience and knowledge are built over time in this industry.

The basic package depends on which auction house one is associated with, and whether it is local or global. Some are paid at par with expats, while others fetch packet commensurate with the industry.

A Rs 6 to 7 lakh package per annum could be a starting salary which could move up to as much as Rs 2-3 crores depending on the position held and the level of seniority apart from that you can also claim a share of 15-25 per cent of the work sold once established.

Given the scarcity of opportunities for gaining relevant work experience in careers in arts management. We felt that developing a students internship program alongside the summit would provide a useful platform for students looking to gaining exposure to a wide range of careers, while building contacts in the art industry and gaining experience in a truly international environment in India.

Excerpts from The Times of India