Art for A Modern India, 1947–1980, by Brown, Rebecca M.
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- ISBN: 9780822343752 | 0822343754
- Cover: Paperback
- Copyright: 3/1/2009
In the process of creating modern art following India's independence in 1947, Indian artists faced a paradox as they sought to maintain a local idiom, an "Indianness" representative of their newly independent nation, while connecting to modernism, an aesthetic then understood as universal and Western. They depicted India's pre-colonial past while embracing aspects of modernism's rejection of the past in pursuit of the new, and they challenged the West's dismissal of non-Western places and cultures as "not modern," as sources of primitivist imagery but not of modernist artworks. Highlighting these paradoxes, Rebecca M. Brown explores the emergence of a self-conscious Indian modernism-in painting, drawing, sculpture, architecture, film, and photography-in the years between independence and 1980, by which time the Indian art scene had changed significantly and postcolonial discourse had begun to complicate mid-century ideas of nationalism. Through close analyses of specific objects of art and design, Brown describes how Indian artists engaged with questions of authenticity, iconicity, narrative, urbanization, and science and technology. In his acclaimed Apu trilogy (195559), the filmmaker Satyajit Ray presented the rural Indian village as a socially complex space rather than as the idealized site of "authentic India." The painter Bhupen Khakhar reworked Indian folk idioms and borrowed iconic images from calendar prints in his paintings of urban dwellers such asMan with Bouquet of Plastic Flowers(1976). In planning the Ashok Hotel and the Vigyan Bhavan conference centre in New Delhi during the 1950s, Indian architects developed a revivalist style of bold architectural gestures anchored in India's past. Discussing these works of art and design along with others, Brown chronicles the mid-twentieth-century trajectory of India's modern visual culture.