Mehta's Falling Figure with Bird to soar past world record?

An exclusively online sale of Indian art will be headlined by an important work from Tyeb Mehta entitled Falling Figure with Bird, on September 19-20.

Tyeb Mehta Falling Figure with Bird
The piece draws inspiration from both Icarus and the Hindu deity Garuda

Executed in the late 1980s, Mehta's Falling Figure with Bird originates from the series of works that won him the gold medal at the first Indian Triennale in 1968. It features the recurring theme of a falling figure - which appeared in his paintings throughout his career - and is said to draw inspiration from the story of Icarus as well as that of Garuda, the eagle-human vehicle of the Hindu god Vishnu.

An important and striking work, perhaps Mehta's most iconic, it will sell with a $1.5m-2m estimate. The current record for his work was achieved in June 2011 at Christie's, when an untitled figure on a rickshaw sold for $1.97m.

The two-day sale features a prominent line-up of India's leading artists. Maqbool Fida Husain's work will be represented by That Obscure Object of Desire, which is expected to make $220,000-280,000. The piece takes its name from the 1977 film by famed Spanish director Luis Bunuel, whose surrealist imagery Husain is said to have greatly admired. A vein of cinematic influence runs throughout Husain's work, inspired by his early career as a billboard painter and the friendships he forged with European directors.

Also featuring will be an extremely rare untitled piece from Amrita Sher-Gil, whose Cezanne-influenced career spanned less than a decade and gave the art world only 172 paintings, 95 of which are in the collection of the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi. A rare opportunity, this piece will sell for $600,000-800,000, though Sher-Gil's work is not allowed to be exported from India.

The region's art sector is hugely exciting. Christie's recently sent a team out to India to promote a number of the country's contemporary artists, and the market is being tipped to be the next major investment success.

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