Christie’s has been handling works of South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art since 1994 and is the only auction house with consistent representation in India. As the market leader in this field Christie’s attracts and offers exciting, high quality works from the Indian Subcontinent and provides unparalleled expertise and trusted advice. The category brings together the eclectic artistic styles from a subcontinent that over the better part of a century has experienced extreme socio-political and economic change. From Colonial India to post-Partition the geopolitical map of the region has been redrawn to create an independent India, the emergence of Pakistan and later Bangladesh. Both modern and contemporary artists often travelled to Europe and the United States, exchanging, absorbing and developing new ideas and techniques. These conditions of flux have produced a rich array of artwork, exploring complex notions of identity, reconfiguring and juxtaposing classical traditions and history with the contemporaneity which surrounds them.
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South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art
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Menaka Kumari Shah joined Christie’s in 2006 in London, King Street as coordinator for the highly important Arts of India biennial sales. In 2006 Menaka joined Christie’s Business Development group as Client Advisor to Indian and Non-Resident Indian clients, and was part of the core team leading the inaugural Dubai Sale in May 2006. She was simultaneously appointed Junior Specialist in Modern & Contemporary Indian Art and a Specialist in early 2008. Ms. Shah relocated back to India in 2008 to head Christie’s India operations and reinforce Christie’s commitments there in her role as Country Head, India and brings considerable experience, knowledge, and client understanding to her role. She is actively responsible for developing Christie’s brand and businesses in India, working with collectors for the acquisition and deaccession of major collections, insurance appraisals, business getting for consignments; and as a general valuer provides advice on all aspects of the auction process. Ms. Shah works with all categories of including Watches, Wine, Pictures, Jewels, South Asian Modern + Contemporary, Indian and Islamic Art. Ms. Shah has been instrumental in broadening Christie’s initiatives in the Indian subcontinent and advises Christie’s International on India. Ms. Shah was educated between India and England and is an alumnus of the Cathedral & John Connon School, Mumbai; the Maharani Gayatri Devi School, Jaipur; Cambridge Arts & Sciences, Cambridge and the University of Bristol, U.K with a BSc. Honors. Prior to Christie’s she worked with Concern India Foundation in Mumbai, curating and managing their fundraising art auctions and exhibitions, and in 2005 she apprenticed under Robert Knox and Dr. Richard Blurton in the Indian department of the British Museum.
Sonal Singh joined Christie’s Modern and Contemporary Indian department in 2007, bringing over ten years of work experience in the art industry. Based in Mumbai, she travels frequently, having formed close relationships with members of the art community in India and Pakistan. She often contributes articles on Indian art to national magazines and newspapers and is frequently invited to speak. She also works closely with the Asian Contemporary Art department in Hong Kong to create a wider awareness of South Asian art in the region. Prior to Christie’s, Ms. Singh was a Director of Bodhi Art. She worked closely with many of India’s leading artists including: Atul Dodiya, Anju Dodiya, Subodh Gupta and N.S. Harsha amongst others. Her recent essays include: “Chindia” as Market Opportunity (co authored with Iain Robertson and Victoria Tseng) in The Art Business (Routledge, 2008) and ‘India’ in The International Art Markets (Kogan Page, 2008). She holds a Master’s degree with distinction in Art Business from Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London, where she specialised in the Indian art market. Ms. Singh has also studied design at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, London; and Modern and Contemporary Art history at Christie’s Education, London.
Dr. Hugo Weihe joined Christie’s in 1998 and established the Department of Indian and Southeast Asian Art in New York. His inaugural sale included works from the Muneichi Nitta Collection, among them a world record for the sale of a Lotus Bud-form censer ($717,500) now on loan to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 1999, Dr. Weihe became responsible for leading the cross-departmental business getting team as Head of Asian Art in the Americas. His role was expanded in 2005 to International Director of Asian Art, leading strategy and initiatives across collecting categories with support from a worldwide team. Under Dr. Weihe’s leadership, the department has achieved numerous auction records in the field including a Sarnath sandstone figure of Buddha ($4.96 million); a 13th century Tibetan thangka ($1.5 million); a painting by Nainsukh of Guler ($2.2 million); and a Baphuon sandstone figure of Uma ($2.1 million). Works from notable private collections include: James and Marilyn Alsdorf; the Pan-Asian Collection; Robert Hatsfield Ellsworth; Thomas Solley; Dr. William Price; the Starr Collection; Julian Sherrier; Ariane Dandois; Dr. Pratapaditya Pal; Jack and Muriel Zimmerman, amongst many others. In the fast growing field of Modern and Contemporary Indian art, Dr. Weihe has established overall market leadership in the category at Christie’s, working with an international team based in New York, London and Mumbai. He auctioned the first work by a living Indian artist to sell for over $1 million with Tyeb Mehta’s Mahisasura ($1,548,000) in 2005. In time, Weihe has witnessed history in the making, with record prices achieved for Syed Haider Raza, Maqbool Fida Husain and Francis Newton Souza. Dr. Weihe was instrumental in securing the single-artist sale of work from the Estate of Francis Newton Souza in 2010. As one of Christie’s international auctioneers, Dr. Weihe commands auctions in New York, London and Hong Kong and supports numerous charities as an auctioneer including the Tibet House Foundation, and Pratham USA. Dr. Weihe received his Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Zürich where he also lectured on various subjects related to Asian art. His book, Die Ware Kunst (Art as Commodity), was published in 1989. In the early 1990s, he was the publisher of Artibus Asiae, one of the preeminent scholarly journals in the field of Asian art, based at the Museum Rietberg Zürich, in collaboration with the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington, D.C.
Deepanjana Klein is a Specialist in the Modern and Contemporary Indian Art department and heads the biannual sales in New York in this category. Prior to joining Christie’s she had been an independent curator in New York City and has numerous exhibitions of contemporary Indian art to her credit. Deepanjana played a central role in acquiring the business of the estate of Francis Newton Souza, one of the most important historical sales in the category. Deepanjana has a Ph.D. in Indian Art History from De Montfort University in England and has taught art history, theory, and aesthetics at the Leicester School of Architecture in England and at the Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute for Architecture and Environmental Studies in Mumbai. She is currently working on a set of books on the sculptures and cave architecture of Ellora. Her publications include contributions to the Encyclopaedia of Sculptures on the topics of modern and contemporary Indian sculpture (Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 2004) and essays on contemporary Indian art. She is the recipient of several awards, including a grant from the Mellon Foundation (ArtStor) for photo documentation of the Ellora cave temples, the J.N. Tata Endowment for the Higher Education of Indians, and the Nehru Trust for the Indian Collections at the Victoria & Albert Museum.
Sheila Parekh-Blum joined Christie’s department of Modern & Contemporary Indian Art in January 2012. Prior to Christie’s she spent seven years fundraising for arts and cultural organizations including the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and Chicago Public Media (an NPR affiliate station), where she managed a $15 million capital campaign. Ms. Parekh-Blum was educated between the U.S., India and the U.K. She is a graduate of St. Francis’ Girls High School in Hyderabad, India, holds a B.A. in Government with a minor in Philosophy from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts and an MSc in Sociology from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland where she specialized in nationalism in post-independent India. She also holds a diploma in Modern South Asian Studies from the University of Heidelberg, Germany. Most recently, Ms. Parekh-Blum completed a certificate in Arts Business from Christie’s Education in New York.