Christie’s Restructures Classical Asian Sales to Focus on the Arts of India | Kanebridge News
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Christie’s Restructures Classical Asian Sales to Focus on the Arts of India

Mon, Aug 28, 2023 8:45amGrey Clock 4 min

Christie’s will feature classical Indian art created from the third century through the beginning of the 20th century in a standalone sale for the first time this September.

The online auction is a break with the traditional approach of including Indian, Himalayan, and Southeast Asian art in one sale and responds to collectors of modern and contemporary Indian art who are “interested in following art history backwards,” finding links in the art of recent time to the faraway past, says Tristan Bruck, head of sale.

The previous model better suited “an old-fashioned collector who was buying works in all three sub-niches,” Bruck says. “A collector who bought Indian paintings, for instance, was likely to also go out and buy a Tibetan thangka (or tapestry).”

The Arts of India sale, open from 10 a.m. Sept. 13 to 9 a.m. Sept. 27, is paying particular attention to works that transition Indian art from the classical to the modern era, a period that until now hadn’t received close attention, he says.

Maqbool Fida Husain, Untitled (Naga), circa 1971
Christie’s Images Ltd. 2023

In the midst of the online offering, on the morning of Sept. 20, Christie’s also will hold a live sale in New York of mostly modern but also contemporary South Asian art, which is predominately from India in addition to Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.

Christie’s expectation is that collectors who attend, or dial into the modern and contemporary sale via phone or online, might be intrigued to also take a look at the online sale, where earlier Indian works provide inspiration for colours, style, and themes by 20th-and 21st-century artists. The auction house will also display the works together in its Rockefeller Center galleries in New York.

Collectors “realize that this art wasn’t created in a vacuum,” says Nishad Avari, Christie’s head of South Asian modern and contemporary art. “There’s thousands of years of tradition that modern and contemporary artists in the region drew on and continue to draw from.”

Consider Maqbook Fida Husain’s Untitled (Naga), a massive work of five female figures and a serpent (or naga) painted around 1971. The painting portrays four of the women with breaks at the neck, hips, and knees, alluding to physical forms expressed in temple sculpture of the Gupta Empire from the fourth- to early sixth century, Avari says.

The painting, expected to achieve between US$700,000 and US$1 million, likely was created to commemorate the launch of a monograph of Husain’s work that was published by Harry N. Abrams, who acquired the painting, Christie’s said in a catalog note. Abrams, a vast collector who also published art and illustrated books about Old Masters through artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, had displayed the work in his offices and later in his family’s home for more than 50 years.

A very large and important Pichvai of Vishvarupa Amidst A Lotus Pond, India, Rajasthan, 18th-19th Centuries
Courtesy of Christie’s Images Ltd. 2023

Going further back in time within the Arts of India sale is a Pichvai painting of Vishvarupa—a form of the god Krishna—painted in the 18th to 19th century. The work, originally a temple banner, is a traditional Indian form and concept, “but by the 19th century you can see artists are working with different types of perspective,” Bruck says. They are also using a more modern color palette, with vibrant pinks and blues, and the canvas is large—about six by eight feet.

“This could go in a gallery with the modern works, which are on these large canvases,” Bruck says. The painting “tells a great story alongside 20th-century work, being able to see the origin of a lot of these concepts.”

The Pichvai—a term that refers to devotional folk art paintings—is estimated to achieve at least US$120,000.

Another popular category are so-called company-school paintings that came out of India’s princely courts beginning with the imperial Mughal around 1600 through to the 19th century, when they were commissioned by British administrators, Bruck says.

Each court had its own style that may have been influenced by other courts and changed over time, he says. The works, often called miniature paintings because of the small, precise figures and scenes they depicted, were typically created in albums, or series, making them highly collectible.

Until recently, a group of collectors had focused solely on this sector somewhat in isolation, but Bruck says, Christie’s is seeing an “explosion of interest” in court painting albums, such as an illustration from the “Bharany” Ramayan series that is being offered in the upcoming sale.

A collector “can see what the other pages from that album have sold for and sort of put them together as an album in [their] mind and ideally collect more than one or try to get a few from the set,” Bruck says. The fact they exist within series also gives collectors confidence in what to pay, he adds.

Sayed Haider Raza, Rajasthan, 1983
Christie’s Images Ltd. 2023

The Bharany Ramayan work in the sale, titled The Monkey Army Intruding Upon a Demon’s Cave, from “Punjab Hills, Kangra or Guler, first generation after Nainsukh or Manaku,” from 1775-1780, is being offered for a minimum of US$80,000. A Patna court painting of a marriage procession at night, from around 1810 and painted in a more European style, is being offered for a minimum of US$10,000.

For many collectors, those price points are more accessible than, for example, the estimated US$250,000 they would pay for a work by Sayed Haider Raza, whose Rajasthan, 1983, is included in the modern and contemporary sale. The structure and primary-colour palette of Rajasthan, in fact, is intentionally drawn from court paintings, Avari says.

“The way in which their discrete sections, cells, in which he paints and the way in which he surrounds it with the red border is a direct reference to Pahari or Rajasthani (court) painting,” he says.

When collectors can see the court paintings that inspired a modern work they own, and they can acquire them for far less, “why not hang them side-by-side?” Avari says.


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Saudi Arabia’s 2024 Summer TOURISM Plans Unveils New Incentives and Global Attractions

“Saudi Summer is Next Door” plans to boost tourism in the Kingdom over four months across seven destinations.

Wed, May 22, 2024 4 min

Saudi Arabia has unveiled its plan to attract international tourists this summer. The strategy includes appealing visa options, complimentary airline tickets for families, a lineup of major events, and opportunities for tax-free shopping.

The initiative, organized under the guidance of Ahmed Al Khateeb, Minister of Tourism and Chairman of the Saudi Tourism Authority (STA), is named “Saudi Summer is Next Door.”


Extensive Summer 2024 Tourism Activities

The initiative will span four months, ending in September, and will be hosted across seven key destinations: Aseer, Al Baha, Taif, the Red Sea, Jeddah, Riyadh, and AlUla.

It features over 550 tourism products and more than 150 specially tailored offers and packages for families and various interest groups including adventure enthusiasts, luxury seekers, and cultural and heritage buffs.

The launch event of the Saudi Summer Program 2024 was attended by notable figures such as Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization, in addition to more than 250 key partners from both public and private sectors, prominent media personalities, and influential opinion leaders.

Showcasing Global Events and Cultural Richness

This year’s program will also welcome back the Jeddah Season and introduce the Aseer Season, each filled with various activities and events for families. The Kingdom will host several significant events as part of the summer program, including the first Esports World Cup in Riyadh, an eight-week competition featuring top esports athletes, and various boxing tournaments in Riyadh and Jeddah.

During the event, Al Khateeb highlighted the latest global tourism trends, the Kingdom’s growth in the tourism sector, and the record-high tourist numbers that have propelled Saudi Arabia to the top of the UN World Tourism list and the G20 nations list.

Al Baha

Al Khateeb emphasized, “Saudi Arabia is witnessing a transformative period in tourism, driven by our vision to position the Kingdom as a premier global destination. The Saudi Summer Program 2024 is our commitment to showcasing the rich cultural heritage, natural beauty, and unparalleled hospitality that Saudi Arabia offers. “We invite local and international tourists to experience the diversity of our seven unique destinations and take advantage of the exceptional offers and packages designed to create unforgettable memories. “This initiative, supported by our strategic partnerships and groundbreaking efforts like the eVisa and increased flight connectivity, demonstrates our dedication to making Saudi Arabia more accessible and appealing to tourists worldwide. “We look forward to welcoming visitors from all corners of the globe to explore and enjoy the vibrant experiences that await them this summer.”

Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization, also remarked, “Saudi tourism is witnessing unparalleled development at all levels, achieving great leaps in recent years, which I witnessed during my multiple visits to this hospitable country.”


“Saudi Arabia has global indicators related to the number of tourists, which has qualified it to top the UN World Tourism list of significant tourist destinations.”

“All of these great achievements for Saudi tourism would not have been possible without proper planning by those in charge of the sector in the Kingdom and the great potential it possesses in terms of diverse climates, stunning natural landmarks, and the generosity of Saudi people who are distinguished by their hospitality, raising the ceiling of ambitions for new achievements.”

STA CEO Fahd Hamidaddin said: “While temperatures in the region rise to high levels during summer, temperatures in the highlands of Saudi Arabia in the southern region decrease to the extent that we even witnessed snowfall in Al Soudah yesterday.” “Through the promotional campaign for the Saudi Summer Program 2024, we seek to highlight the uniqueness of our destinations and their climatic, natural, and cultural diversity, along with the exceptional events and activities happening during summer. “This year’s summer program includes more than 550 tourism products and 150 special offers designed in collaboration with STA’s partners, which include attractive offers from hotels, airlines offering free tickets for children in partnership with major travel, tourism, and aviation companies, and exceptional products in the Aseer Season and Jeddah Season like tax-free shopping offers and many new and exciting experiences such as private beaches for tourists and ladies’ beaches.”

“The campaign slogan “Saudi Summer is Next Door” embodies an open invitation to explore the magic of Saudi destinations and their diversity. This diversity is expressed with simple words that reflect the uniqueness of each destination, such as “Closer,” “Cooler,” “More Beautiful,” and “More Affordable.”

The private sector is a very important component of the success of tourism programs and initiatives, and the Saudi Tourism Authority is committed to empowering it by fostering demand for products and offers that align with the aspirations of tourists globally.

The launch of the Saudi Summer Program 2024 marks a period when visiting the Kingdom has become easier, smoother, and safer through measures such as the availability of the eVisa to citizens of 66 countries, a 20 percent reduction in eVisa prices, and a significant increase in the number of weekly flights from

Gulf cities to Saudi summer destinations, now totaling 1,100.

Residents of the GCC can also benefit from the GCC residents visa, which allows them multiple entries and a stay of up to 90 days in the Kingdom over a year. Moreover, the number of hotel rooms available to travelers is set to increase, with an additional 25,000 rooms expected to be added this year.


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