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For the third year, Anish Kapoor leads the Hurun India Art List

The art list features top 50 Indian artists alive based on the sales of their works at public auctions

A visitor takes a closer look at an artwork, titled ‘Spanish Gold to Pagan Gold’, created by Anish Kapoor at Art Basel, Hong Kong, in May 2021. Photo: AP/Vincent Yu (AP)

The third edition of the Hurun India Art List is populated with names of the leading Modernist and contemporary artists from the country. Featuring top 50 artists alive, this selection is based on the sales of works at public auctions till 30 December 2020. And for the third year in a row, British-Indian sculptor Anish Kapoor leads the list, with his works resulting in sales of 20.64 crores last year. He is followed by Krishen Khanna, who shot up to the second place with sales of 9 crores.

There are some interesting insights that emerge from this study, researched and compiled by the Hurun Research Institute—a body that analyses wealth creation, innovation and growth—with the data drawn from For instance, 18 per cent of the artists on the Hurun India Art List 2021 are women and include names such as Nalini Malani and Anjolia Ela Menon. Of these, painter Arpita Singh remains the most successful living Indian female artist. Painting has emerged as the most popular form of art sold by artists on the Hurun India Art List 2021, followed by sculpting.

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The survey also gauges the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on the mart market. “The total sales came to 81.28 crores, down 25 per cent, compared with last year. However, total lots sold was 470, up 26, led by Sakti Burman,” states the study. It also analyses the artists based on geography. While 8 per cent live outside India, 16 artists on the list live in New Delhi, followed by Mumbai with 10. “With 10 entrants born in West Bengal, the state contributed the most number of artists in the list, followed by Kerala and Maharashtra, where 8 and 7 artists were born, respectively,” mentions the list.

The research sheds light on the auctions as well, with 37 per cent of the total art work on this year’s art list—worth 30.47 crores—was sold in India, followed by the US (29 per cent) and the UK (13 per cent).

The survey also compares the Indian art market with mature markets in other parts of Asia, especially China. “We have been doing the Hurun China Art List for the past 10 years. Comparatively, the prices of Indian art are quite low,” says Anas Rahman Junaid, managing director and chief researcher, Hurun Report India. According to him, one of the main motivations behind bringing out the report is to promote Indian art among entrepreneurs.

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“You can’t really rank an artist according to his practice. That is very subjective. What we have one is something very simple and basic, which is to look at the value of art being sold through public auctions,” he adds. “The trends in the art market evolve in correlation to wealth creation in a country. China, for the past 10 years, has been producing the most number of billionaires. India is now third on the list. Art is not just an asset class, but a lucrative collectible as well. There is a lot of interest in the Modern Masters. But if you go down the list, the prices of works by the 50th artist in the list are affordable right now. One can buy now and be assured that it will have great value in the coming years.”

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