From Michelangelo’s Adam to Ravi Varma’s Tilottama, from Monet’s Water Lilies to Hussain’s Ganga Jamuna, art keeps the artist alive for decades and centuries to come. Every passing decade a new breed of art lovers discovers itself through these legendary compositions.
Art has the power to cross the barriers of time and space. A historic piece of art can transport you to an era that’s only comprehensible through the paintings that live to tell the tales of it. A futuristic one, on the other hand, can serve as a peephole into what lies ahead as you let your mind run wild with the artists imagination of a utopian or a dystopian world. But have you ever wondered if there is a common thread that ties art and artists across generations, civilizations and geographies? And what really makes art-lovers seek art?
Apart from the era-defining strokes, the fantastical hues and distinguishing art styles, what attracts collectors the most are the stories behind these works of acclaim. It’s the stories of struggle, rebellion and even condemnation that make some of the greatest artists of their times even more glorious. Van Gogh created his most renowned piece, Starry Night while restricted to the four walls of a mental asylum. Paul Gauguin, the famous post-impressionist, wrote in a letter to his friend “I don’t even have the money to buy paints, so I confine myself to drawing”. And it’s not always financial despair and rejection, but sometimes infamy that can taint an artist’s life with traumatic experiences. India’s very own Raja Ravi Varma, despite being a royal favourite, faced a number of accusations, reputational damage and was forced to defend his beliefs in court.
Ironically, today, the paintings of these artists have been auctioned for millions of dollars as collectors try to put a value to the invaluable sagas behind each artwork.
While enough and more has been said and recorded about artists, it is the art connoisseurs who truly make an artist worthy of the recognition and admiration they receive in their lifetimes or after it. The process of choosing an art piece is often a process of self-exploration and discovery. What resonates with one may not resonate with another. What you choose to collect or display at home or in office, echoes what you value the most. But how does one build an art collection that resonates with one’s personality, values and inclination? Here’s our very own classification of art, artists and art lovers based on how they blend together to create ambiances that speak volumes.
Classic works of art are ones that hold tremendous historic significance. They are traced back to some of the most renowned artists in the globe. They are the ones which have survived the wrath of time and are revered as masterpieces and all-time favourites in the art circles such as Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa or Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring. The appreciation in value of classics can be astounding. Sandro Boticelli’s ‘The Man of Sorrows’ recently sold for $45.4 million at the Sotheby Auction.
Classics are often a reflection of a particular era – this can be seen in artist’s interpretation of the society, nature, norms, culture and the art styles that defined that period. People who are drawn by the beauty of time-travel, the ones who love antiques and vintage cars, are often the ones who adorn their personal spaces with classic artwork.
In the Indian context, you can think of artists such as Farukh Beg from Mughal Times and the likes of Abarindranath Tagore and SL Haldankar from early 1900s, all of whom created period-defining pieces.
Every age has its own radicals and non-conformists. The ones who paint the canvas and the ones who appreciate it. By challenging existing styles, avant-garde artists as well as art lovers dare to go beyond the obvious. Their unorthodox approaches may often make them the target of several controversies, but they are the ones who are later credited with taking the art movement forward with their revolutionary styles. Be it Pablo Picasso’s The Three Musicians or MF Hussain’s Three Dynasties, the modernism witnessed in avant-garde paintings resonates with bold, progressive and experimental personalities. And with every new epoch, the definition or avant-garde may come to change.
The Myth Lovers
It is not surprising that roots of most art forms can be traced back to religious contexts and mythical legends. From Biblical frescos to Greek sculptures to Indian murals, art has long been inspired by characters that were a part of religious or mythical texts. In India, the Gaekwads of Baroda are renowned for encouraging this art form as they adorned their halls with paintings from Raja Ravi Varma depicting Indian Gods and Goddesses as well as notable scenes from Indian epics and lores such as Urvashi’s departure and Shakuntala’s looks of love.
In mythical paintings, the detailing of the characters, their sensitivities and grace is often astonishing. Art-lovers tend to see them as visual stories- scenes brought alive and transported to their living rooms.
The Folk Adorers
While the exoticness of a foreign gem could catch the eye of many, folk-art lovers look for the genius in indigeneity. Jamini Roy, one of the most acclaimed Bengali artists is known to have rejected the modern style while popularizing Bengali folk art at global stage. India is a land rich with folk art and the popularization of these art forms at global level is a recent phenomenon. Several folk artists including Jangarh Singh Shyam, Baua Devi and Jivya Soma Mesha have been flagbearers of indigenous artforms like Gond art, Madhubani and Warli. And many collectors are now drawn to art forms that not just need to be preserved but also promoted and celebrated.
The Digital Art Squad
While physical art forms could be made tangibly available for trade, valuing and trading digital art was not something that was imaginable a couple of years ago. Owning an art-piece has often been regarded as an investment that needs to be secured with great care and attention. But how could one do that for digital art? This bottleneck was solved with NFTs coming into picture. Whether the critiques like It or not, we cannot deny a world full of possibilities for new-age artists, art connoisseurs as well as investors. Stepping into the NFT space adds another dimension to art selling, trading and collecting. The global NFT market is expected to grow by USD 147.24 billion by 2026 according to a recent report by Technavio. Art has always evolved with time and the blending of deep-tech with art is just another peg to this evolution.
When it comes to deciding what you want, several factors will come into play including your aesthetic tastes, temperament, values and even investment choices. Watch out for forgotten legends, unexplored art forms as well as emerging artists. The process of curation can be as joyous as the process of creation!
When the process of choosing an art piece is often a process of self-exploration, how will you build an art collection that resonates with your personality and values?
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