Christie's prepares for first Middle East art auction
By Alexandra Pironti May 22, 2006, 14:20 GMT
Dubai - The world's leading auction house Christie's is preparing for its first art sale in the Middle East, to be held May 24 in the wealthy emirate of Dubai and to feature 128 contemporary and modern works of art from the Arab world, Iran, India, Pakistan and the West.
'This is the most exciting region in the world. You cannot pick up a newspaper without understanding how exciting it is living and doing business in the Middle East,' Paul Hewitt of the London-based auction house told reporters in Dubai Monday.
Dubai, which has quickly developed as a commercial and tourist centre for the region, has until now seen only two types of auctions: those of thoroughbred camels, one of which last year fetched 185,000 dollars, and of customised car licence plates, one of which sold last year for 50,000 dollars.
But Hewitt, International Business and Development manager for Christie's, said the auction house had spent two years doing charity auctions in Dubai and talking to wealthy locals to research the market.
'Through their advice we decided to do an auction. This is a learning experience for us and after the auction we will understand which works of art have had more interest,' he said.
Hewitt pointed out also that art can potentially make for a very sound investment.
'There is undoubtedly an inherent ability of great artworks to maintain their appeal in financial as well as aesthetic terms over the years, decades and centuries,' he said. 'With the right advice art can make for an extremely good investment.'
Dubai, one of seven sheikhdoms which form the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has a large community of wealthy locals and expatriates from India, Iran and Pakistan and is seen as an ideal place for Christie's to have its first auction in the Middle East.
Major highlights of the exhibition include two prints by Warhol, including the Double Mona Lisa of 1978, which is expected to fetch between up to 160,000 dollars, and the silkscreen Fish, guided at 35,000-40,000 dollars.
The exhibition showcases two major highlights by Egyptian artist Ahmed Moustafa, including Orbits of Praise, estimated to be worth up to 200,000 dollars.
Among Indian artists, the auction presents the works of renowned painters such as Francis Newton Souza and Syed Haider Raza.
Souza led the vanguard of a group of Indian artists known as the Progressive Artists Group, which also included Raza.
Inspired by the currents of Western Art these artists sought to divorce themselves from academic painting traditions and sentimental themes.
Among these works the auction presents Raza's Ciel Bleu, estimated at up to 150,000 dollars and Souza's Monsoon from 1958, expected to make anything up to 220,000.
Major artists from Pakistan are also represented in the sale which includes a large and powerful work by Sadequain (1937-1987), who takes inspiration from the Pakistani poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz. The painting is estimated between 70,000 and 90,000 dollars.
Iranian works showcased in the sale depict cultural life in post- revolutionary Iran and the tensions between tradition and modernism. These find forceful expression in the photographs of female artist Shadi Ghadirian (1974).
In her untitled print from the Qajar Series, she uses the photographic style of the formal 19th century portrait, with the sitter ironically holding a can of Pepsi.© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur