Six works by V.S. Gaitonde, one of India's most important modern artists, sold for a total of £867,000 at Bonhams Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art sale on June 11th in London.

The six untitled ink on paper drawings (estimated between £20,000-35,000 each) were acquired directly from the artist by American abstract painter Morris Graves, who visited Gaitonde's studio in 1963. He was so excited by the works that he sent an aerogramme that same day to Dan and Marian Johnson of the Willard Gallery in New York. 'One of the finest painters I have ever seen,' he wrote of Gaitonde. 'He is 100 per cent artist – a great & sincere (+ humble - + unconscious gift)...He is an abstract painter with something unspeakably beautiful & clean added. They are the most beautiful landscapes of the mind plus light...'

This series of drawings, part of the same set as a collection in the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi, marks a critical turn in Gaitonde's career: in 1961, he abandoned figuration, adopting the use of rollers and ink and the use of a monochrome palette.

One of the works sold for £158,500, three for £146,500 and the remaining two for £134,500.

Other highlights included, Untitled (Self Portrait) by M. F. Husain which sold for £56,250 and Horse by the same artist which made £47,500. Untitled (Birds) by Shalir Ali was bought for £52,500 against an estimate of £5,000-7,000.

In total the sale made £1,370,000 and over 90% of the lots were sold.
Tahmina Ghaffar, newly appointed specialist for Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art, said: 'In a strong sale, the Gaitonde series stood out. Each of the drawings was fiercely contested - on-line, on the 'phone and in the room - making this one of our most exciting South Asian auctions to date.'


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to https://www.bonhams.com

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