Modernism and Abstraction
On August 15, 1947, after a long struggle, independence and Partition created the new nations of India and Pakistan. Liberty came alongside violence and hostility as ten to twelve million people were displaced across new borders and religious lines. In the mythology of India’s art history, this moment is often twinned with the formation of the Progressive Artists Group in Bombay, though the decade was marked by a number of artist groups and trends. While these artists favored figuration in their evocation of modernism in Indian art, a number of others – beginning in the 1950s – explored principles of abstraction. In this lesson, we will look at the choices individual artists and groups made in the first two decades after independence, which would impact the development of modern and contemporary art and culture in India for another half century until nearly the present.