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Fine art can refer to any form of visual art that has been created for visual and intellectual appreciation, and includes paintings, sculptures, sketches and crafts. Works of fine art are highly valued in the collectibles market as items of beauty and markers of culture, heritage and history. In the Indian fine art market, art is generally displayed under the categories of national heritage art, modern Indian art, contemporary Indian art, traditional art and tribal art, and there is extensive demand for these artworks both within and outside India.

National Heritage works

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the nationalist struggle for independence broke out in the field of art, when different artists deserted the British style of painting and introduced new and unique styles. Pioneers of this movement included Raja Ravi Verma and Amrita Sher-Gil, who used European techniques to revolutionise Indian art. During the same time, the Bengal School of Art and the Shantiniketan School of Art emerged, which worked to counter all western influences, and were associated with artists such as Abanindranath Tagore and Debi Prasad Roychoudhury. These schools applied Oriental styles of art, and revived Rajput and Mughal miniature styles, while utilizing elements of the Swadeshi movement to exert their nationalist agenda. All these artists, along with others like Jamini Roy, who created paintings inspired by the Kalighat style of art, are now deemed as National Heritage artists, whose works cannot be exported internationally.

Art transcending time and space

In the 1930s and 40s, the Bombay Progressives Artists Group was formed, and this initiated the period of Modern Indian Art; paintings of this era are popularly demanded by seasoned art collectors. Some of the eminent modern Indian artists were the founders of the Progressives Group, and included M.F. Hussain, F.N. Souza, K.H. Ara, H.A. Gade and S.K. Bakre, all of whom had been educated abroad; western influences such as cubism, post-impressionism and expressionism can be easily discerned in their paintings. The tradition of modernism in Indian art was further carried by V.S. Gaitonde, Akbar Padamsee, Arpita Singh, Krishna Reddy and Anjolie Ela Menon, who brought in dimensions of abstraction, voyeurism and sexuality in their paintings, expressing a sense of freedom and experimentation in their work. Contemporary art, which flooded the Indian art scene from 1985, was a reaction to the spread of information, digitisation and globalisation in that period, and was marked by artists such as Subodh Gupta, Atul Dodiya, Bharti Kher and Baiju Parthan. Indian folk and tribal art is not restricted to paintings, but is a rich expression of tribal aesthetics in the form of sculpture, weaving, pottery, metalwork, jewellery and textile, created using a variety of methods, colours and materials. It is a direct manifestation of the beliefs and thoughts of the various tribes of India, and the sale of these items is a major source of preservation and recognition of tribal life in India. Most of the tribal works are closely linked to the everyday lives of the tribal community, and feature gods, goddesses, local deities, war heroes, festivals and rituals, which are unique to the region from where they emerge. Art forms, such as Gond from central India, Phad from Rajasthan, Madhubhani from Bihar and Pattachitra from Odisha, are widely demanded by art collectors for their beauty, design and cultural heritage, and make up a large part of art auctions and exhibitions. Indian traditional art, historically, has been linked with royalty, and is famous for its ornate design and spectacular beauty, and the usage of precious stones, metals and gems that give it a regal and colourful look. Found in various regions of India, these works of art have long been treasured by royal families, and the historical significance and context draws a lot of demand from art enthusiasts and collectors all over the world.

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