The Triumph of Modernism: India's Artists and the Avant-garde, 1922-1947

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Reaktion Books, 2007 - Art - 271 pages
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This richly illustrated book explores the contested history of art and nationalism in the tumultuous last decades of British rule in India. Western avant-garde art inspired a powerful weapon of resistance among India's artists in their struggle against colonial repression, and it is this complex interplay of Western modernism and Indian nationalism that is the core of this book. The Triumph of Modernismtakes the surprisingly unremarked Bauhaus exhibition in Calcutta in 1922 as marking the arrival of European modernism in India. In four broad sections Partha Mitter examines the decline of ‘oriental art’ and the rise of naturalism as well as that of modernism in the 1920s, and the relationship between primitivism and modernism in Indian art: with Mahatma Gandhi inspiring the Indian elite to discover the peasant, the people of the soil became portrayed by artists as ‘noble savages’. A distinct feminine voice also evolved through the rise of female artists. Finally, the author probes the ambivalent relationship between Indian nationalism and imperial patronage of the arts. With a fascinating array of art works, few of which have either been seen or published in the West, The Triumph of Modernismthrows much light on a previously neglected strand of modern art and introduces the work of artists who are little known in Europe or America. A book that challenges the dominance of Western modernism, it will be illuminating not just to students and scholars of modernism and Indian art, but to a wide international audience that admires India's culture and history.
  

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Contents

Prologue
7
The Indian Discourse of Primitivism
29
THREE
104
Naturalists in the Age of Modernism
123
K Venkatappa
163
The New Delhi and India
177
Epilogue
226
Bibliography
256
Photo Acknowledgements
263
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About the author (2007)

Partha Mitter is professor emeritus of art history at the University of Sussex and is also the author of several books, including Art and Nationalism in Colonial India, 1850–1922 and Indian Art.

 

 

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