Established in 2008, The Stellar Foundation Collection comprises over 600 works dating from the late 19th Century to the present day. As a collection, Stellar gives insight into the cultural viewpoint of individuals with diverse understandings of the world. We spoke to founder Mrs Anita Choudhrie about the Collection, the Foundation and its work.
What are the aims of the Stellar International Art Foundation?
“As Stellar has evolved, with society traditionally dictated by male dominated narratives, the diaspora of female artists with strong social relevance has become the foundation’s main focus.
The Stellar International Art Foundation comprises 800 works dating from the late 19th Century to the present day. The Foundation has staged exhibitions of momentous heretofore unseen works, has produced a seminal publication on a master artist within the Collection and has even been revered by some of the most respected curators and critics in the world.
Stellar has long believed in the value of artistic practice as an active force for challenge and change. Stellar consequently features work from a vast array of individuals with diverse understandings of the world and champions artists regardless of background or gender. The Foundation’s exclusive events also provide necessary platforms for conversations on diversity and equality. With a shifting political landscape and campaigns for female empowerment across the globe, Stellar aims to tackle wider issues on gender equality and cultural acceptance.
When and how was it established?
Stellar was established in 2008 and took its basis from the private collection of the Choudhrie Family. The Collection has become internationally renowned for its content, coverage and activities. From London to India, Dubai to St Moritz, the material of the Collection and its efforts have earned it a distinguished place amongst the increasing number of foundations across the globe.
How was the original family Collection created, and what did it consist of? – how has the collection developed over the years, and who is now responsible for its management?
The Collection began in the 1970s when the Choudhrie family began to purchase works of art out of private enthusiasm and this soon led to friendships with important international contemporary artists. The Collection is managed on a day-to-day basis by art advisor Anya Zakharova.
What are the main themes of the Collection, and what are its most significant items?
In terms of procuring the works, Stellar tends to have a yearly curatorial theme suggested by its art advisor. This year, the theme is feminism and female artists. As such, Stellar has recently acquired new art by English feminist Tracey Emin entitled The More of You the More I Love You.
Who are the main artists represented? What subjects do they tackle?
Stellar has one of the largest collections of MF Husain’s artworks outside the estate, making it the most significant home for the artist’s oeuvre. With over 250 works spanning from the early 1950s through to his final years, the Collection supersedes all the world’s museum, gallery and private collections. A great patron of the artist, Stellar was chosen as the guardians of not only a large volume of work in general, but especially his most famous and, arguably, most important series: Maria. With the same ethos in mind, the Foundation has sought to keep his most significant series intact for future generations.
The Foundation also has one of the most noteworthy compilations of work by one of Delhi’s most accomplished contemporary artists Paresh Maity and this includes the full breadth of his media spectrum – from sculpture to oil, watercolour to mixed media – also spanning the artists’ career. The Choudhrie Family were in fact one of his first patrons, commissioning him to make early watercolours of our vintage cars after meeting him over his very first exhibition in Delhi in the 1990s. Perhaps most notably, the Foundation owns two of his important, large scale series: Kerala – a group of 51 works over various media commissioned by the Keralan government – and Tagore – a mix of painting, drawing and calligraphy inspired by the seminal, master poet. Investment in Maity was not misplaced, as he is now one of the most prolific artists in India, with work in the national airport, many historic hotels and other cultural institutions. Even most recently, his work has sold with exceptional results at global auction houses. Also in the Collection are works by Lynn Chadwick (top of page), Keith Haring and Damien Hirst among others.
What events has the Foundation organised, and which were the most successful or significant?
Stellar features work from a vast array of individuals with diverse understandings of the world and champions artists regardless of background or gender. Stellar’s exclusive art forums likewise provide a necessary platform for conversations on diversity and equality. In March 2020 Stellar Art Foundation presented artworks by emerging artist, Adia Wahid in conversation inspired by the artist’s alter ego I Am the Algorithm, The Algorithm is Me (see more here).
In a shifting political landscape and with campaigns for female empowerment across the globe, these events are exemplary not only in the art world, but in wider issues on gender equality and cultural acceptance.
What does the Foundation do to encourage the work of contemporary artists?
The real meaning of the Foundation lies not in its material possessions but in the opportunities it provides for artists. By collecting European, Russian, American and Indian Art and distinguishing its selection less on regional concerns and more artistic talent, the Foundation has been able to champion overlooked artists and give them a well-deserved voice.
How does you see the Foundation and the Collection developing?
The Foundation will continue to promote cultural and gender acceptance through its purchases, exhibitions, events and artist support. In particular, the foundation aims to provide more female and minority artists with the chance to showcase their work at event and panel discussions.
What themes in classical or contemporary art do you find most compelling?
At the point the Foundation was created, the Collection focused further on American and European Contemporary Art as well as Modern and Impressionist works which contextualise the entire assortment within a global art history.
Are Eastern artists beginning to penetrate the Western art market?
With the onset of globalisation, the nature of the art world is certainly diversifying. Mass media and internet access has enabled awareness of contemporary artists in localities around the globe to grow. The expansion of online art market and art fairs have likewise made Eastern Art more accessible to the Western world. This penetration of Eastern art is, albeit slowly, challenging the traditional assumptions and value judgements of western modernism as the only form of modernism.
There is however still a long way to go when it comes to appreciating Eastern art as an entity with value in its own right. Eastern art is still too often judged in direct comparison to western counterparts and Indian artists are unscrupulously lumped together as illustration of ‘Indian art’. Far too little appreciation is given to the unique nuances of each artist’s work and their own individual style and designs.”
Visit the website of the Stellar International Art Foundation here.