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  • A much-needed perspective on contemporary Indian art, offering a dynamic rather than a static way of
    approaching the subject.
  • While the works of individual artists are discussed, much of the debate centres on the contentious subject of modernism in Indian art, in its Eurocentric, Asian, contextual, or multicultural form.

This volume provides a much-needed perspective on contemporary Indian art, offering a dynamic rather than a
static way of approaching the subject. Instead of a mere chronicling of modes and elucidation of styles of art which are now well known, the essays, written by scholars, deal with questions which, though often asked, remain open-ended. Within the broad conceptual framework of each essay, the works of individual artists are discussed.

Much of the debate centres on the contentious subject of modernism in Indian art, in its Eurocentric, Asian,
contextual, or multicultural form. This preoccupation with modernism, as the essays here reflect, gives way in the
1980s to the generating of a greater expressiveness about one’s own reality, the plight of the common man, the
feminist, and the marginalized. Notions of multiculturalism infect Indian artists of the ’90s and there is a confident borrowing from all cultures free of any colonial hangover or self-doubt as they resort to pluralistic modes: installations, earthworks, conceptual, performance, and video art. The changing parameters of postmodernism and diasporic art are also dealt with, and the appendix has extracts from significant writings which relate to the issues of modern Indian art from its formative to its present stage.

Yashodhara Dalmia
Culture Specificity, Art Language, and the Practice of Modernism: An Indian Perspective
R. Siva Kumar
Abanindranath Tagore: A New Context
Ella Dutta
Folk Artists of Bengal and Contemporary Images: A Case of Reverse Appropriation
Jyotindra Jain
Now, Then, Beyond: Time in India's Contemporary Art
Susan S. Bean
Feminism and Women Artists in India
Gayatri Sinha
The Paradigms for Post-Modern Art in India
Yashodhara Dalmia
Eurocentrism and Contemporary Indian Art
Thomas McEvilley
Asian Modernisms
John Clark
An Indo-Mex Smorgasbord from the United States of Modernity
John H. Bowles


YASHODHARA DALMIA is an art historian and an independent curator based in New Delhi. She has written several essays, articles, and reviews on contemporary Indian art. Her book Amrita Sher-Gil–A Life (2006), a comprehensive account of the life of the legendary artist was shortlisted for the Hutch Crossword non-fiction award in February 2007. She has co-authored along with Dr Salima Hashmi a book on Indian and Pakistani art titled Memory, Metaphor, Mutations, Contemporary Art of India and Pakistan (2007). Her book The Making of Modern Indian Art: The Progressives was published in 2001. In December 1996 she curated an exhibition of the Progressive Artists’ Group consisting of 200 paintings, sculptures, prints, and drawings, which inaugurated the National Gallery of Modern Art in Mumbai. At present she is working on a book on modern and contemporary Indian art.

R. SIVA KUMAR, art historian and academic, studied art history at Kala Bhavana, Santiniketan, and has taught there since 1981. He curated and wrote the catalogue text for the exhibition Santiniketan: The Making of a Contextual Modernism at the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi in 1997, and has contributed to several books, catalogues, and journals, and co-authored The Murals of Santiniketan (1995).

ELLA DUTTA is an art columnist and has written on contemporary Indian art for several publications including Art
India magazine. She is the author of the book Ganesh Pyne, His Life and Times (1999).

JYOTINDRA JAIN, formerly Director of Crafts Museum, New Delhi, is Professor at the School of Arts & Aesthetics,
Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. A former Alexander-von-Humboldt Fellow, Homi Bhabha Fellow, Visiting Professor at Harvard University at the Centre for the Study of World Religions, and recipient of the 1998 Prince Claus Award, his publications include: Ganga Devi: Tradition and Expression in Mithila Painting; Other Masters: Five Contemporary Folk and Tribal Artists of India; Kalighat Painting: Images from a Changing World; and Indian Popular Culture: “The Conquest of the World as Picture”. He edited the Marg volume Picture Showmen: Insights into the Narrative Tradition in Indian Art (1998). As Director of CIVIC: Centre for Indian Visual Culture he is engaged in creating a vast digital archive of Indian popular visual culture.

SUSAN S. BEAN is Curator, Department of South Asian and Korean Art and Culture at the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts, USA. She curated the exhibition Timeless Visions (1999) on the Chester and Davida Herwitz collection of contemporary Indian art, a substantial part of which was gifted to the Peabody Essex Museum in 2000.
GAYATRI SINHA is an independent curator and art critic in New Delhi and co-curator of INDIA: Public Places, Private Spaces – Contemporary Photography and Video Art. She has edited Expressions and Evocations: Contemporary Women Artists of India (Marg, 1997), supported by an exhibition at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Woman/Goddess: An Exhibition of Photographs (1998–2001, travelling, India and abroad), Krishen Khanna: A Critical Biography (2001), Indian Art: An Overview (2003). She has curated and lectured extensively on Indian art.

THOMAS MCEVILLEY is an American scholar and critic who has written numerous books and articles on both ancient and contemporary art and culture. He has written about modern and contemporary art in India on several occasions, and spoke on post-modernism at the Mohile-Parikh Centre in Mumbai some years ago. His latest work is The Shape of Ancient Thought: Comparative Studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies (New York, 2002).

JOHN CLARK, FAHA, CIHA, is Professor in Art History at the University of Sydney and founding director of the Australian Centre for Asian Art & Archaeology. Among his books are Modern Asian Art (1998), the co-edited Eye of the Beholder (2006), Modernities of Chinese Art (draft in editing 2007) and Modernities compared: Chinese and Thai Art in the 1980s and 1990s (2008). From 2004–06 he was working on contemporary Asian art and biennales, and during 2008–12 he will hold an Australian Research Council Professorial Fellowship for a new comparative study, The Asian Modern.
JOHN H. BOWLES received his BA and MEd from Harvard University. His background in Mexican arts includes study and fieldwork at Palenque under Merle Greene Robertson and the Pre-Columbian Art Research Institute; producing exhibitions of contemporary Huichol tribal art for museums in Europe and the United States; and serving as Exhibitions Director for Plaza de la Raza, a Latino cultural centre in East Los Angeles. A frequent visitor to Asia, his writings on Indian art have been published in Outlook, India Magazine, The Indian Review of Books, and Orientations.

MARG (, since 1946, is India’s premier publisher of books and magazines on the art and history of India and its neighbouring countries. We are a division of the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), a public charitable trust formed principally to promote a better understanding and appreciation of India’s rich cultural heritage.

The titles published have over the years covered an exhaustive spectrum of subjects and have formed a unique and valuable repository of data and analyses of Indian and related art.

MARG publishes as part of its series of volumes, four quarterly magazines a year and four hardbound books. Marg has also published several stand-alone titles.

Apart from publishing magazines and books, MARG also occasionally produces books, guides, and catalogues for other organizations.


  • Purva Uttara an eight part series launched to commemorate India's fiftieth year of Independence
    covers important sites and monuments:
    Immortal Capital: The Many Cities of Delhi
    Visions of Paradise: The Taj Mahal
    Sanchi: Monument of the People
    Konarak: Chariot of the Sun
    Vijayanagara: Where Kings and Gods Meet
    Mamallapuram: A Riddle in the Sands
    A World Apart: Princely Mewar
    Rome of the Tropics: Goa
  • One City, Two Worlds a Film on Bombay
The films have been seen by millions of viewers both in India and abroad. Within the country the films have been shown on Doordarshan, Star, Discovery, and CNBC and abroad on The Travel Channel.

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