The Santiniketan Murals
Seagull Books published, 1995 - Mural painting and decoration - 96 pages
Santiniketan holds a unique position in the cultural history of India, as an embodiment of a concept and ideal which was part of what is largely regarded as a cultural renaissance in the early part of the century. The cultural leaders and artists who committed themselves to Santiniketan felt a need to view all the arts and crafts as a single connected panorama in order to revitalize the roots of their traditions. They wanted to see art as part of daily life, not just in museums, picture galleries or audience halls of the affluent. They also wanted to keep alive the priceless methods and techniques that had contributed to forming the distinct personality of the country s age-old visual tradition of murals. As a result, they turned Santiniketan into a rich open-air museum of modern Indian art with several in situ murals, some of which are landmarks of Indian history. The monograph is an effort to bring these murals before a wider public and to describe their background. It contains a general survey of the murals, detailed description of the major works and their historical background, and brief discussions on technique and themes. It has reproductions in black and white and colour, a catalogue of works, and a bibliography. Altogether it promises to be a useful source book on the early efforts in Saniniketan to relate art to architecture and environment, focusing especially on the pioneering works by Nandalal Bose and Benodbehari Mukherjee. It also presents the few murals done in more recent years by contemporary artists like K. G. Subramanyan and Somnath Hore, which depict their novel image, are in the same spirit as the earlier ones. K. G. Subramanyan is an eminent painter, muralist, printmaker and writer on art. His books include Moving Focus, The Living Tradition and The Creative Circuit. He is presently Professor Emeritus at Kala Bhavan. Jayanta Chakrabarti is an art historian with a special interest in Indian painting. He is the author of The Techniques of Indian Painting and Kalighat Painting, and co-author of Drawings and Paintings of Rabindranath. He is currently Professor of art history at Kala Bhavan. Arun Kumar Nag is an archaeologist by training and profession. He is currently attached to the Department of Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology, Visva-Bharati. He has also worked as a conservationist and his interests include art, literature, and nineteenth century sculpture. R. Siva Kumar is an art historian with a special interest in modern Indian art. He is a Reader in art history at Kala Bhavan, Visva-Bharati.
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