Will Air India’s beautiful art collection also go to the Tatas? This is what we know

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Just before the 2020 pandemic, Air India held a four-day exhibition in Mumbai with 7,000 artifacts and memorabilia to display.

Air India Art Collection: The national carrier Air India has now reverted to the Tata Group, under which it was created all those years ago. The privatization of airlines has been going on for a long time, and it is finally here. But, it also left a lot of questions in people’s minds as to what would happen to various airline assets. One of those assets is Air India’s magnificent art collection. This art collection, however, was not part of the deal and, therefore, will likely remain with the Indian government even after the transfer of power. Here’s why the collection matters.

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The collection, according to a report published in IE, is called the “Maharaja Collection” and includes more than 4,000 works. The works of art included in the collection are those of MF Hussain, VS Gaitonde, Jatin Das and Anjolie Ela Menon. Air India desks, calendars, menu cards and posters proudly featured pieces from this collection, which also includes posters made by designer Mario Miranda and advertisements designed by New Yorker designer Peter Arno. Apart from this, traditional wooden and bronze works of art, paintings, sculptures and textiles are also part of the extensive collection.

There are no official estimates on the value of the collection, and it’s worth noting that the collection has grown alongside the airline.

The first set of six paintings had been purchased from art school graduate B Prabha in 1956 for Rs 87.50, and since then, over the next six decades, the collection has been built with care. The collection was expanded with the aim of “putting a little India” in the reservation desks of the Tata Airlines era, following the philosophy of JRD Tata.

The Air India collection was formed when the airline commissioned some of the works and bought some for as little as Rs 50 to Rs 500. However, sometimes the airline has also bartered paintings to offer tickets. plane to artists wishing to travel abroad. This was also revealed by the late painter MF Hussain, who said he made four or five trips abroad this way.

Now, however, it has been years since the works were opened, and some of the parts are believed to have been damaged, lost or stolen. Jatin Das discovered in 2017 that Flying Apsara, the painting he made in 1991 and which had been acquired by the airline, was for sale for Rs 25 lakh on the open market. This led to a complaint against a former Air India executive for theft of government property. After that, it was reported that the airline had also started examining other staff to determine if something similar was being done by them as well.

Just before the 2020 pandemic, Air India held a four-day exhibition in Mumbai with 7,000 artifacts and memorabilia to display. The report states that since 2016 serious efforts have been made to create a detailed inventory of the pieces included in the collection. At present, the Union Ministries of Civil Aviation and Culture are planning to move the collection to Delhi for display in a prominent museum.

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