Midnight to the Boom: Painting in India after Independence
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Midnight to the Boom: Painting in India after Independence

by Susan S. Bean
     
 

Highlights from the Peabody Essex Museum’s Herwitz Collection of Indian art, the preeminent public collection outside of India
A revolutionary art movement asserted itself in India between the declaration of independence at midnight on August 15, 1947, and the economic boom of the 1990s. This is the first in-depth study of the three generations of artists

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Overview

Highlights from the Peabody Essex Museum’s Herwitz Collection of Indian art, the preeminent public collection outside of India
A revolutionary art movement asserted itself in India between the declaration of independence at midnight on August 15, 1947, and the economic boom of the 1990s. This is the first in-depth study of the three generations of artists responsible for critical shifts in the development of India’s modernist art. Their achievements and the country’s unprecedented boom ushered India’s modern and contemporary art into a new era of globalism, a soaring international market, and an explosion in the media and technologies of art. After independence, India’s artists faced a particular artistic challenge: how to express the new nation’s distinctive character while entering a global discourse focused on modernism’s universal premises of experimentation and shared human values. In the absence of a dominant aesthetic, painters could turn where they wished and blend as they liked—from Abstract Expressionism to Tantric spiritualism; from Rajasthani painting to changes in India’s complex politics, religions, classes, and vernacular life. The contributors to this beautifully illustrated publication bring a deep knowledge of both India and modern and contemporary art: Susan S. Bean, Curator of South Asian and Korean Art at the Peabody Essex Museum; Homi K. Bhabha, Harvard University; Rebecca M. Brown, Johns Hopkins University; Beth Citron, Rubin Museum of Art; Ajay Sinha, Mount Holyoke College; and Karin Zitzewitz, Michigan State University.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Drawing mainly from the Peabody Essex Museum's Herwitz Collection of Indian Art, this beautifully executed book of paintings and essays explores the energetic, sensuous, political, multifaceted approach taken by Indian artists working between "midnight"—midnight of August 15, 1947, the date of India's declaration of independence—and the economic boom of the 1990s. Breaking out of the colonial mindset, these painters embraced modernism and integrated it with Indian artistic and spiritual traditions. As related by Homi K. Bhabha in a interview with Bean (former curator of South Asian and Korean Art at the Peabody), they approached "culture as interpretation, rather than... as designation of identities" and reflected on "moments of transition: what it is like to be caught in the midst of different visual languages, verbal traditions, formal conventions, or cultural symbols." Bean and six other scholars in the U.S. provide introductions to the three generations of artists whose work is showcased, along with enlightening essays on the art, the unique viewpoints and visions of the artists, and their embrace of Indian culture in the context of an international aesthetic, as well as a biography of Chester and Davida Herwitz, whose collection forms the basis of this book. 142 illus. (Jan.)
Choice
“A major contribution to the emerging literature on modern Indian art, and to histories of modernism and nationalism in South Asia.”
Library Journal
At midnight on August 15, 1947, India declared its independence from British rule. India's anticolonial movement—synonymous with Mohandas Gandhi, peaceful resistance, and civil disobedience—is celebrated here, but the book also reveals the movement's dark side, namely, the coinciding partition into India and Pakistan, remembered for its violent riots and upwards of a million deaths. Editor Bean (curator, South Asian & Korean art, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA) explores how these transformative moments brought political, social, and economic change to India and Indian artists, particularly painters, who responded by experimenting with content, style, and new artistic techniques. Over the next 50 years, the Indian economy bloomed and boomed, and its rapid growth continued to shape both culture and postindependence art. This book tackles the period from 1947 to the 1990s, and its contributors are scholars and curators who have deep knowledge of the postindependence Indian art scene and modern and contemporary art. The catalog is beautifully written and illustrated with 122 color plates, nearly all of which are works in the Peabody Essex Museum's Herwitz Collection. VERDICT This gorgeous volume is ideal for anyone interested in modern and contemporary Indian art.—Jennifer H. Krivickas, Univ. of Cincinnati Lib., OH

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780500238936
Publisher:
Thames & Hudson
Publication date:
01/07/2013
Pages:
10
Sales rank:
425,920
Product dimensions:
9.90(w) x 12.20(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Susan S. Bean is Curator of South Asian and Korean Art at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA.

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