A remarkable success story has been the inauguration of biennials and art fairs in new world art markets. Seen as evidence of the coming of age of an emerging art scene, these events are considered as an important manifestation and driving force of the integration of the international art world. Fairs and biennials feed the ongoing process of globalization by encouraging foreign artists and galleries to attend, and by catering to an international audience of buyers. In doing so, these gatherings are poised to defy national art schools and underscore the transnational character of the art world and market. To test some of these assumptions, we examined the India Art Fair held in the capital Delhi as an exponent of the expanding contemporary Indian art market for visual arts. As the premier annual event in the Indian art world, we surveyed the galleries, artists and works of art that were showcased in the 2013 edition of the Delhi fair in order to get a sense of who and what drives the art market of the Global South. What fuels the contemporary Indian art market and shapes its artistic output – is it the new money and cosmopolitan tastes of the own middle and upper classes, or international demand? Also, we gauged the degree of local embeddedness versus the transnational nature of the art scene in India. Are art fairs truly celebrations of a diverse borderless art world featuring a broad spectrum of foreign artists or, on the contrary, do they primarily reflect local tastes by promoting indigenous art?
The results of this project have been written up in a chapter which will appear in the forthcoming book on Canvases and Careers in a Cosmopolitan Culture. On the Globalization of Contemporary Art Markets, edited by Olav Velthuis and Stefano Baia Curioni, and published by Oxford University Press. A draft version of this chapter can be downloaded here.