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19th Century Art Schools: The Beginnings of an “Art World” in India

Pooja April 28, 2022

This lesson explores the diverse and distinctive developments in Indian art in the early 20th century, beginning with the emergence of the Bengal School, an art movement linked to “self rule” (or swaraj) and the quest for nationhood, and continuing until the eve of independence and Partition in 1947. We will explore Rabindranath Tagore’s development of an experimental and radical approach to art and education at Santiniketan, as there he created a new model that has been influential globally for over a century. We will also look at Amrita Sher-Gil, whose unique biography engendered extraordinary contributions to Indian modernism in the 1930s. Through the first half of the 20th century, the tensions between Indian and Western aesthetics, or “home and the world,” in Tagore’s famed words, expanded and contracted, as artists, schools, and movements responded to different political, social, and cultural conditions.