Pioneering Styles and Vocabularies
Having looked at some of the developments in Indian art during the early 20th century, including the emergence of colonial–era art schools and quests for nationhood and self-identity, let’s turn our attention to the moment of independence in India.
On 15 August 1947, after a century-long struggle for freedom, India gained independence from Britain. While this liberty was long-awaited and joyous, it was accompanied by the Partition of British India — a result of colonial cartography — into two separate nation-states, India and Pakistan. During Partition, there was violence, upheaval and mass migration; as many as ten to twelve million people were displaced across new borders founded upon religious lines.
In the timeline of India’s art history, this moment can be read alongside the formation of pioneering artist groups and the exploration of new artistic styles and vocabularies. In this lesson, we will look at the choices that these groups and individual artists made in the first two decades after India’s independence.
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