‘A quality consciousness rarely seen before is driving art auction markets worldwide as new segments of buyers - collectors and private archives - have emerged’
A curious dichotomy has gripped the art auction market with a sudden boom in sales at record prices even as economies in Europe, the US and India log a slump in growth. A new generation of buyers is opening up its purse strings to acquire rare and high quality works.
A quality consciousness rarely seen before is driving art auction markets worldwide as new segments of buyers - collectors and private archives - have emerged.
Art market analysts say the phenomenon is a consequence of the caution imposed on buyers after the price bubble in the investment driven market burst post the 2008 economic slowdown. It resulted in a steep crash in art prices by as much as 30 per cent in developing countries like India.
A bulk of the over-hyped new art that was doing repeated auction rounds on the pretext of emerging talent was flushed out of the market in the deluge of depreciating prices and ensuing price corrections.
When the markets showed signs of resurgence in late 2010, prices of art by the masters had remained largely unscathed in the two years of the economic chaos, said a Mumbai based art critic, who did not want to be named.
“The old masters, modernists and contemporary pioneers are still commanding steady prices in the auction market. In hindsight, nothing has really changed in the echelons, which is controlled by the masters,” the analyst said.
According to Alex Bell, co-chairman of Sotheby’s Old Masters Paintings Worldwide, these are exciting times for the old masters and the British painting markets.
At an auction of Old Masters’ and British Paintings in London which realised 32,268,650 pounds, the top lot was a 350-year-old historic naval scene, The Surrender of the Royal Prince During the Four Days Battle 0f 1st-4th June, 1666 by Willem van de Velde (the younger) which sold for 5.3 million pounds.
A drawing of the grand canal of Venice by 18th century Italian master Canaletto, acquired from a private collection, sold for 1,945,250 pounds, a spokesperson for Sotheby’s said.
Bell said Sotheby’s has been seeing strong prices in extremely dynamic sales in which collectors were prepared to go head-to-head for the very best works.
“The auction market was also attracting an encouraging number of new clients and strong participation from new markets,” Bell said.
In a dramatic bidding on the telephone June 20, Sotheby’s sold a 1927 European classic, Peinture (Etoile Bleue) by Spanish artist Joan Miro for 23,561,250 pounds.
Helen Newman, chairman of Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art Department in Europe, said the sale reinforced the unprecedented demand for the best examples of 20th century art.
“The masterpiece by Miro not only shattered the previous record for the artist set four months ago but made more than three times it achieved five years ago,” Newman said.
The South Asian modern and contemporary art segment continues to be ruled by a club of 20 elite, which includes masters like Tyeb Mehta, SH Raza, FN Souza, Manjit Bawa, MF Husain, Ram Kumar and Anjolie Ela Menon and historic legends like Jamini Roy, the Tagore brothers (Abanindranath and Rabindranath), Nanadalal Bose and old Bengal masters, experts say.
Two early 20th century artists - SH Raza and VS Gaitonde - created a new auction record June 22 at Saffronart when their art sold for Rs 3.15 crore ($585,000)and Rs 2.85 crore ($527,500) respectively.
According to Hugo Weihe, Christie’s international director of Asian Art, the collectors’ base for South Asian is expanding with bids from collectors, institutions and dealers from Southeast Asia, India and the Middle East to Europe and the US at strong prices in auctions.
At an auction of South Asian modern and contemporary art in Christie’s June 11, a painting from the Mahishasura series by Tyeb Mehta sold for 1,385,250 pounds, setting a record.
“I had predicted two years ago the hype will die out and only those who have proven themselves will survive. It is about demand and supply. When you don't get quality art, rare and historically rare art in the market, prices automatically rise,” Kolkata-based auctioneer Vikram Bachhawat said.
“After the death of artist Jamini Roy's son, who was an accomplished copier of his father’s works, there is no one to copy Jamini Roy, leading to scarcity of his works in the market,” Bachhawat explained. Heritage artists are naturally in demand and buyers are ready to pay any amount, he added. (IANS)
Destination Bangkok, perfect for that all-girls jaunt
‘Besides looking for the best bargains, Bangkok is the one city that also urges you to be adventurous. If you are bored with your face, you can change it right there. This citadel to the culture of beauty has a wide array of cosmetics from every country in the region, as well as its own. Not just that, there are innumerable salons waiting to give you a complete make-over – clearing massage, face massage, haircut and skin rejuvenation treatment, anything you want’
So you want the right destination for an all-girls’ jaunt? A place that is not too expensive and yet promises loads of fun? A place to haggle over prices and sip exotic drinks without worrying about making a fool of yourself because they don’t make you tipsy? A place to shop for silk scarves and handbags, delight in jewellery? Then the capital of Thailand may just be the right destination for you.
Okay, once you’ve decided that Bangkok it will be, here are some important tips you should bear in mind. The first, and possibly most important one, is to pick the right day to reach the city. It is always advisable to be in Bangkok on the weekend beginning Friday, because that’s when all the markets are spread out in all their glory. The perfect season for some extensive street browsing would be between October and February, although all other months too are great, if only a wee bit warmer.
The famed night markets of Bangkok are okay for a one-time experience but the real thing is the weekly market – they set up on Friday and work through Saturday to Sunday evenings. There’s nothing quite like it, when so many craftsmen, so many stalls with affordable footwear, handbags and clothing come together with street food and music.
Talking of shopping, the glitzy city malls are a destination in themselves, built on an unimaginable scale. Take MBK, for instance. It comprises six gigantic floors packed with stalls selling everything from panties to plasma television sets. There are two distinct categories of malls, by the way. One is known to sell excellent duplicates of branded goods. “It is the first copy,” explained Akash, an acquaintance, as he flaunted a Rodeo watch that he had bought from one of these malls. ‘First copy’ means that the duplicate is made so close to the original that only the very discerning would be able to perceive that it is not an original. Best to take the advice of expert shoppers to guide you through this maze, and unless you know the price of the original you will not be able to negotiate a suitable price for that ‘first copy’.
In the other type of malls you can be sure that what you get are originals, places like Siam Paragon where many designers have their showrooms. They offer fabulous discounts, which, believe it or not, may sometimes make you feel that you’ve got more than your money’s worth! By the way, it’s no longer true that the clothes on offer, particularly for women, are of very small sizes. For instance, you get wonderful cotton shirts for both men and women in all sizes.
Thailand has its own rubies, jade and sapphires, but it also imports precious and semi-precious stones from Burma. So you can get yourself some very good jewellery in the city. Don’t go for just stones, even if you want to design a special piece of jewellery for yourself. Those that are already set and designed as jewellery are cheaper. The jewellery you get in the malls tends to be even cheaper and they also give you a certificate of guarantee for the purity of the stone.
Besides looking for the best bargains, Bangkok is the one city that also urges you to be adventurous. If you are bored with your face, you can change it right there. This citadel to the culture of beauty has a wide array of cosmetics from every country in the region, as well as its own. Not just that, there are innumerable salons waiting to give you a complete make-over – clearing massage, face massage, haircut and skin rejuvenation treatment, anything you want.
But, I personally found delight in the sun-ripened fruit of Bangkok. You can buy them fresh, or you can opt for the dried version – be it strawberries, mangoes, guavas or melons, they are delectable even with their wrinkled skins. Street side stalls offer them by weight, and that’s the right place to get them. You can also buy different types of dried and salted seafood.
Bangkok’s street food is something you may have heard about and read, but it is only when you get there that you understand what the street food experience is all about, with stalls that come up under neon lights after sun down. But the real stuff is far more confusing, exciting and varied, as the night wears on, there’s always a range of food on offer – from fried pork to cut fruit and even cocktails.
One cocktail, though, you cannot get on the streets is the Siam Mary. Fashioned after Bloody Mary, it is said to have lemon grass, Thai basil, Thai chilli, wasabi, fresh lime, coriander, tomato and vodka, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco and lemon juice. Indians, who are used to something spicy, will love it. Talking of bars, it is only when you visit Bangkok do you understand why Pattaya is called the capital of sex life. In Bangkok, the red light areas are almost marked and girls in bikinis peep out from every nook and corner here trying to attract clients. But Pattaya is different. The whole street can sometimes take on the contours of a hi-design bar. It’s all about the business of creating the right ambience. Music, lights and business conversations swirl around these massage parlours.
Whatever you have been able to glean from your Google searches about Bangkok will be useful, but it’s only when you go there that do you realise how map-dependent the local people are. Since most taxi and tuk-tuk drivers here do not speak English, they arm themselves with a bilingual map of the city and ask, street-style, “Map. Where map?” As for acquiring a map of your own, don’t bother to buy one – most hotels give it to you free of charge.
Since commuting is expensive, it is useful to know what is on offer at the hotels. Many of them provide free drop offs to shopping malls, and major sightseeing spots. So the first thing you should do on checking-in is to pick up a map and get all the information about the free rides on offer. As for coming back, you can always hail a taxi or a tuk-tuk. Talking of which, remember tuk-tuks are low roofed, and you can literally hit the roof when it goes over a speed breaker. But, apart from this, tuk-tuks offer a clean and cost-effective commute.
Ultimately, Bangkok would not be Bangkok without its lovely people, always smiling, always polite, even when they are doing what they seem to enjoy as well – bargaining. For instance, if you were to commute for a distance that should cost 100 Baht, you will be asked for 400 Baht. So you say, “50 Baht.” The tuk-tuk driver will then say, “Oh Yes!” as he laughs and recognises you as one of them. But it’s now that the game really begins. He says, “Okay, m’daam, 300 Bahts.” You say, “Oh no, just 50, well, maybe 75 Baht?” He will then shrug, smile broadly and encourage you to be more generous, “Say more, m’daam, say more.” You finally end up saying 100 Bahts and he will respond, “Okay, 110.” That’s when you get into his vehicle! So welcome to Bangkok, the city of bargains, in every sense of the term. (Women’s Feature Service)
Games : NCAA Football 13
We’ve heard it year in and year out – if a sports franchise is popular, chances are that the changes that are made with the following entry in the series will be minimal. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, right? Well, with NCAA Football 12, EA Sports really shook up the franchise in a good way, but left us wondering just what would be left for the following year’s game. Well, the good news is that NCAA Football 13 continues the status quo of goodness from last year’s effort, with a few new tweaks and an entertaining Heisman mode to satisfy the millions of college football fans out there. But this time around, it doesn’t feel quite so daring and new. Hey, sometimes them’s the breaks.
The first thing you’ll notice is the gameplay. The quarterback has some new step-off animations – 20, in fact – that make passing feel a little more fluid. There’s also indicators to let you know how your receivers are positioned. The running game shows some signs of improvement as well, with better read-outs of hot routes and the ability to change it on the fly if you deem it necessary.
While most of it does lean on the same old stuff we’ve seen in previous years, NCAA 13 as a whole operates like a great sports sim. Very rarely will you find an instance where something didn’t go as planned – save for user error or simply playing as a low-level, stat-drained team. You can adjust sliders however you please in the game, should you feel you need work on your passing game or how you run on the field.
And as always, NCAA 13 packs on the modes for players to try out. The newest of the bunch is Heisman mode, where you can take one of a dozen past winners – including cover star Barry Sanders – and run them through their paces for a superstar season. While lacking in overall innovation, it’s nice to see these achievers get the recognition they deserve in game form. And, hey, you can shut your friends up about who can do more in a Heisman season.
Aside from that, most of the modes from the series make a return. The mascot football mode is a bit ludicrous, but well worth trying out if only to silence your buddies by dominating them with dudes in Air Force Falcon uniforms. Road To Glory is once again back, where you can create a player from scratch and run them through a high school-college career, earning XP and making them a better-rounded player. The addition of extra goals and Reaction Time are nice here. Finally, Online Dynasty lets you make the run for records through either Xbox Live or PlayStation Network, setting up conferences and changing around staff to see if you can perform better in your league.
Though not all the schools made the cut in this game, we did see plenty of our favourite universities represented with mascots, authentic fields and player celebrations in the game. And even if actual player names aren’t included , it’s still a decent overall experience.
That said, the graphics can lack a bit in certain areas. From a distance, the crowds don’t really look that much different, even if your team is romping and stomping a long-time rival. Also, some of the environmental effects and camera angles don’t change much, even with extreme weather conditions. Just something for EA to keep in mind with next year’s go-around. Otherwise, the game looks marvelous. Especially the menus and the replay system. Talk about ESPN inspired.
As for audio, Brad Nessler and Kirk Herbstreit once again return for audio commentary, and though there are times they sound slightly disjointed , they offer some good rapport as your team marches forward. The crowd noises are quite enthusiastic and fun to listen to, and the authentic themes for each school are a blast. More cannon fire would’ve been nice, though.
Though not quite as trend-setting as last year’s rendition, NCAA Football 13 is still a good game of pigskin, packed with features and a strong presentation that fans of the sport will happily embrace. At the very least, it’ll tide you over until you see if Madden NFL 13 can make the grade or not. That’s a month and a half of Online Dynasty domination.
GAME RATING: 8.0
Book: Crusoe’s Daughter, Author: Jane Gardam, Publisher: Europa Editions, Pages: 265, Reviewed by: Vivek Tejuja
Crusoe’s Daughter by Jane Gardam is not everyone’s cup of tea read. It is not the usual fare that novels have to offer. It is different and written in a manner that takes time sinking into and enjoying the book. I went through that and once I did I could not stop reading it. Maybe because it is about books and a young girl understanding their need and loving them over a period of time. It is surreal and also elements of magical realism are present in it which makes it all the more interesting. These are my initial thoughts about the book.
Jane Gardam has always maintained that style of writing which is has been consistent, right from God on the Rocks to Crusoe’s Daughter, that of dry wit and a sense of dramatic irony. I remember reading, God on the Rocks for the first time at eighteen and being absolutely awe-struck by the book. The eccentrics, which obviously were the secondary characters, were my most favourite. The same applies to this one.
Readers would be surprised to know that Crusoe’s Daughter was first published in 1985, and now reprinted by Europa Editions. The book begins when Polly Flint, a mere five-year old girl arrives with her widowed father at Oversands, a big yellow house inhabited by his wife’s older unmarried sisters. Shortly after the arrival, Polly’s father dies, leaving her to be brought up by the sisters, in an isolated place, where there are virtually no more children but Polly. In her loneliness, Polly turns to books and their comfort. In doing so, she identifies herself the most with Robinson Crusoe, who lived in isolation on an island for twenty eight years. She finds a way to cope with her loneliness and anguish as she grows up.
Polly knows that she has to make her own life given the circumstances. For instance, when she is twelve, she rejects communion and its idea. The realism in her head is too much to be handled by anyone. Polly then moves to live with her elderly family members, Arthur Thwaite and his sister Cecilia, who live in Yorkshire moors, some distance away. Here again, life takes a different turn. Their home is an artist’s retreat. Polly meets various new people – poets, thinkers, writers, believers, musicians and dreamers and this further shapes her character and persona, leading to an end which will for sure surprise readers and make them drop their jaw slightly.
The things that worked for me in the book: The setting. Northeast Rural England is not a place I would be visiting sometime too soon. Reading about it and trying to imagine the moors (as I did while reading Wuthering Heights) and the scenes that play out is a different experience by itself. The charm is unbearable. The characters as I mentioned earlier took me by surprise with their wide range of eccentricity and comfort provided to Polly at times. Ms. Gardam may not talk about them in detail during the course of the book, however when she does, she ensures that their voices are heard.
At times the pace of the book got to me. It was turning out to be slower than what I had expected, but I kept reading, because of the writing and the plot. Polly as a character is hard to put my finger on. She is everything and at the same time, she springs from the pages and does something totally unexpected. Kudos to Ms Gardam for visualizing and bringing her to life in our heads.
The writing is not only descriptive but also insightful. From the thoughts of the single sisters to Polly’s views on things are unique and refreshing. Jane wants us to empathize with her characters, what they are going through, but never sympathize. So from that perspective, the book is not sentimental and I am glad it isn’t.
Crusoe’s Daughter might be termed by some as a coming-of-age book, but for me it is more than that. It is discovering oneself through everything. It is about relationships formed in the world known to us and in the world that isn’t known to most people. Crusoe’s Daughter is a cracker of a read that should not be missed. But be warned: It is slow. It is not a thriller. It is not your usual fare. So read it only if the story appeals to you.