Sotheby’s upcoming auction of Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art in London on 23 October,2018 will have on sale paintings by “The Fathers of Modernism”Francis Newton Souza, Ram Kumar, Maqbool Fida Husain and Sayed Haider Raza, the leading proponents of the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group. These important works by Francis Newton Souza, Ram Kumar, Maqbool Fida Husain and Sayed Haider Raza are among ten paintings that will be unveiled in India at the Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai, from 20-21 September, 2018. Many of these works have never been offered before on the market and have remained in private collections for several decades.
Sotheby’s Mumbai exhibition of the Progressives’ works will closely follow the opening of “The Progressive Revolution” exhibition at the Asia Society Museum in New York – the first major international show on Indian Modernists to be held in half a century.
Ishrat Kanga, Head of Sotheby’s London sale of Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art said: “The trailblazing Progressive artists forged a new path for artistic production in India after Independence. Rejecting traditional academic artistic practices, these rebellious ‘Fathers and Mothers of Modernism’embraced the influences of the Western avant-garde. The result was a beautiful amalgamation of ‘East’ and ‘West’.
The Asia Society’s exhibition of the Progressives’ works marks a major landmark, and reflects the growing international appreciation for South Asian art – a global interest that is mirrored in the varied nationalities of the collectors we see in our sales. Our Mumbai exhibition presents an opportunity to discover a number of rarely-seen works by this brilliant group of artists that are normally hidden away in private collections. Indian collectors are a powerful force not only in the South Asian art sales, but in our wider Sotheby’s auctions too, and we are always delighted to bring artworks from our sales to their doorstep.”
The exhibition will include a still-life by one of India’s most valuable artists, Francis Newton Souza, inspired by his Catholic upbringing; one of the finest examples from Ram Kumar’s abstract series of works on Benares (Varanasi), a city closely associated with religious awakening; three works by one of the finest draftsman of his time, Maqbool Fida Husain, heavily influenced by Picasso; and a rare painting of a tomato by S.H. Raza, one of only three known works to show a fruit or vegetable.
The London sale comes in the wake of successful auctions of Indian, South Asian and Southeast Asian Art at Sotheby’s New York in March 2018 which together made over $15.5 million – the company’s highest result in three years. Over 40% of buyers in the Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art sale were new to the company, reflecting the considerable potential for growth in this market. This year, Sotheby’s is reaffirming its commitment to the Indian art market by launching sales in Mumbai. Our inaugural sale, “Boundless: India”, will take place on 29 November.