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The Numbers Game

Anders Petterson can take credit for adding statistical data to the art mart. Since its inception in 2001,his research firm ArtTactic has emerged as a reference source that has helped foresee fluctuations in the mart graph.

Written by Vandana Kalra |
August 26, 2009 12:52:07 am

Anders Petterson can take credit for adding statistical data to the art mart. Since its inception in 2001,his research firm ArtTactic has emerged as a reference source that has helped foresee fluctuations in the mart graph. In May 2008,when art was still blue-chip in India,his firm predicted its fall by estimating a 13 per cent drop in the Indian Art Market Confidence Indicator.

Four months later,there was a further drop of 23 per cent and in April 2009 the indicator plummeted another 63 per cent. “The results showed that there were certain problems. After the global economic slowdown,the fall was more rapid,” said Petterson,38,who left JP Morgan to establish ArtTactic. “I wanted to study the market. The numbers are important,” he added after a discussion on ‘Emerging Markets: Art in the Age of Uncertainty’ at the recently concluded India Art Summit.

It was after gaining repute in the West that ArtTactic began scrutinizing the India mart in 2005 and the list of India-specific reports now includes the overall market confidence survey and one focussed on contemporary art. Survival ratings,that gauge long-term credibility of artists,is also published. The report is an outcome of in-depth research that combines qualitative and quantitative tools and takes into account the opinion of art experts,dealers,curators and collectors. “Emotional attachment cannot be measured but the figures provide an overview. It is important to take both into consideration for true evaluation,” said Petterson,even as he recalled that he was “shocked at the emotional detachment with art” when he first started studying Indian art. “Price seemed to be the foremost concern,” he observed.

Standing with a work of Subodh Gupta,who tops the “Survival Rating May 2009: Indian Contemporary Art Market” on his web page,Petterson added,“The market is more stable. The next survey should indicate an improvement.” Who would he put his money on? “The survey should provide clues,” he quipped.

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There are some suggestions for the art frat in India though. “There is a need to promote art education. Museums should be more active and discussions and seminars should be held,” said Petterson as he prepared for art talk in India,including interacting with gallerists and artists.

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