Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Sotheby’s flies with Air India

Six decades after she first created them sometime in the 1950s, 83-year-old Nargis Wadia’s Air India posters will be part of Sotheby’s auction titled ‘Boundless: India’. The inaugural Indian sale by the British auction house comes two years after they set up shop in the country in September 2016. “Air India gave me those posters, samples that were printed [at the time],” said Ms. Wadia who joined Air India’s in-house art studio as a designer in 1955. The two were, as the Sotheby’s website attributes, “Gifted to the current owner by Air India circa 1950s,” and are estimated between₹60,000 and ₹90,000.

Of the two artworks, one titled Paris had skirted political conspiracy when it was first distributed. The poster features just women’s legs attired in leotards contorted to spell out the city’s name.
“I made it after my first visit to Paris, we went to the Crazy Horse salon, a popular nightclub,” reminisced Ms. Wadia who travelled to France only a year after joining Air India. Instead of a dot, the diacritic above the ‘I’ had the airline’s signature Maharaja head ogling at the legs. Bobby Kooka, then commercial director of Air India (creator of the Maharaja), and Jal Cowasji, who headed the airline’s publicity department both appreciated the artwork.

However, when it came to the notice of a Parliamentarian in Delhi, he took objection to it. “After it was distributed a Member of Parliament in Delhi (who Ms. Wadia chose to not name) took objection and said it’s cheapening the Air India Maharaja showing him in this environment,” she said, calling the incident a prudish reaction. The Air India management solved the problem by removing the mascot from the poster diluting its charm. Ms. Wadia received samples of the modified artwork, which will be auctioned at the Sotheby’s sale.
27/11/18 The Hindu