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Galvanising science for art’s sake

In yet another first after the Artists Resale Royalty (ARR) Framework was introduced in the auctio n  hous e ’ s  inaugura l  onlin e  sale ...

In yet another first after the Artists Resale Royalty (ARR) Framework was introduced in the auctiohouseinauguraonlinsalenow top-quality scientific examinations, such as Technical Photographic Analysis, is to become the norm in the auction house’s due diligence and cataloguing processes from the second auction on February 25. 

The scientific examination is based on studying the physical characteristics of the painting under different spectra of light. The range is from the visible to the non-visible part (e.g. Infra-red and ultra violet). Each light source enhances or allows different features to be highlighted, the outcome is then interpreted based on an understanding of the medium and technique. Micro and macro images help in highlighting other aspects of material and technique.

Various important paintings underwent this examination, including the baselessly maligned M. F. Husain “Horses playing with the Sun” (Oil on canvas, 1970) painting. This painting has been examined in detail following listed methods of imaging and the observations were noted.

“Thmaifindingarconsistenwitknowattributes of thartist – M.FHusainTherino under-drawing or changes in composition. The painting has been executed over a very short time of one to three sittings. The drawing has been laid with a brown colour strengthened with black. The background has been filled in with a diluted colour applied with a brush. The brush strokes in the background can be seen in IR transmitted light. A medium (oil) rich yellowish-grey colour has been applied to fill the body area of the horses. Over this, the white stroke has been applied with a wide brush to provide the modulation. These strokes are forceful and assured as the wet underlayer does not show in these strokes. In some areas, the artist has used a palette knife. The black strokes have been reinforced and the other areas of the painting also filled in. The drying pattern of the paint layer particularly the black areas suggests that the painting has been executed at least over a decade or more ago”.

Commentinothdecision to brinscience to servtharts, NevillTuliChief Mentorsaid, deRivaz & Ives’ effort to publiclshare in-depth scientifiexaminations of artworkis a paradigm shift in the learning curve for the Indian art market. For over a decade the market has refused or been unable to introduce credible scientific analysis so as to bolster market confidence in the authenticity of important artworks by the modern masters. Many uninformed opinions which gained media traction would have been avoided if even technical photographic analysis had been introduced as part of the due diligence methodology and cataloguing processes. Let us now hope that a new understanding emerges and other institutions also follow this lead. It is expensive, time-consuming, requiring top quality expertise but well worth it especially given many collectornoneveget to physicallexaminthartworkidetaifomosonlinsales.

DeRivaz and Ives held its maiden Online Auction of Modern Indian Art last weekend which auctioned a respectful Rs 11.86 crores of modern Indian fine arts, with Jehangir Sabavala, Prabhakar Barwe and F.N. Souza leading the way.

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