NEW YORK - The grand scale of Untitled (1960), the largest painting ever created by renowned Indian modernist Vadudeo S. Gaitonde (9 feet long), effectively captured the zeitgeist of the time. The early 1960s was a time of positive imagination, when technological advancements in flight spurred the spirit of globalization. Untitled was meant to celebrate the infinite possibilities that accompanied the launch of Indian national carrier Air India’s first Boeing 707 aircraft. The work also boasts a storied provenance for it was a centerpiece of the highly esteemed collection of Bal Chhabda (1923-2013), Gaitonde’s close friend, and one of India’s greatest artist patron-collectors of the 20th century.
BAL CHHABDA AT HIS DARSHAN APARTMENT WITH UNTITLED (1960), 2012. © MANISHA GERA BASWANI.
Chhabda was a central figure in Indian modern art circles in Bombay during the post-independence (post-1947) era. He was the first to open a private art gallery, Gallery 59, in Bombay in 1959 which featured the works of his friends Maqbool Fida Husain, Sayed Haider Raza, Akbar Padamsee and Krishen Khanna. He forged close relationships with all of these artists, including Gaitonde, and his home was known as a salon for members of India’s artistic community.
VASUDEO S. GAITONDE, UNTITLED, 1960. ESTIMATE $ 2,500,000–3,000,000.
Untitled (1960) is not only impressive for its sheer size, it also draws viewers to meditate on Gaitonde’s exquisite colorization and purist approach to painting. Gaitonde strived for the silent purity of experience – a belief that is a cornerstone of his universal appeal and unique stature in Indian art. Suspended greyish blue strokes bring geometry and movement into the canvas, while a blue circle suggestive of a sun or moon dominates the composition. Untitled (1960) is both a departure and a pivotal moment in Gaitonde’s stylistic evolution when the artist transitioned from figurative explorations to embrace a preoccupation with non-objectivism and pure abstraction. The painting demonstrates Gaitonde’s application of multiple translucent layers of paint, followed by the removal and then re-application of pigment to achieve a radiant luminosity and enigmatic quality.
VASUDEO S. GAITONDE, UNTITLED, 1963. IMAGE REPRODUCED FROM V.S. GAITONDE: PAINTING AS PROCESS, PAINTING AS LIFE, GUGGENHEIM AND DELMONICO-PRESTEL, 2014.
Today, Gaitonde’s works grace renowned institutional collections in India and the west. In 2014 the artist was the subject of a historic retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, followed by the Peggy Guggenheim Foundation, Venice.
The present sale offers collectors the rare opportunity to acquire a work of great historical and cultural significance in Modern Indian art.