The Triumph of Modernism explores the contested history of art and nationalism in pre-independence India. It takes the surprisingly unremarked Bauhaus exhibition in Calcutta in 1922 as marking the arrival of European modernism in India. In four broadsections, Partha Mitter examines the decline of 'oriental art' and the rise of naturalism as well as that of modernism in the '20s,and the relationship between primitivism and modernism in Indian art–with Mahatma Gandhi inspiring the Indian elite to discover the peasant, the people of the soil became portrayed by artists as 'noble savages'. A distinct feminine voice also evolved through the rise of female artists at this time. During the colonial period, and especially after the 1920s,the Western avant-garde provided a powerful weapon of resistance for Indian artists in their struggle against the colonialists, and it is this complex interplay of Western modernism and Indian nationalism that forms the core of this book.
With a fascinating array of art works, few of which have either been seen or published in the West, The Triumph of Modernism throws much light on a previously neglected strand of modern art and introduces the work of artists who are little known in Europe or America.
A book that challenges the dominance of Western modernism, it will be illuminating not just to students of modernism and Indian art, but to a wide international audience that admires India's culture and history.Back to Events