Global Modernism and Indian Avant-garde Artists (1922-1947)

Partha Mitter

Venue: Room 310, 1555 Century Avenue, NYU Shanghai
Date: Monday, October 28, 2019
Time: 17:30 - 19:00 CST

The lecture takes up the story of Indian artists and their encounter with global modernism. There is a serious imbalance in art history between Centre (the West) and Periphery (the Rest) that causes non-western artists to disappear under the global radar. This is a reflection of the complex discourse of western colonialism and the tendency to consider all non-western modernist art as mere adjuncts of western modernism. The three major artists that Partha Mitter will discuss – Amrita Sher-Gil, Rabindranath Tagore and Jamini Roy – showed striking originality and radical imagination. Yet they are hardly known to the West. This, Mitter argues, is not because of their intrinsic quality as such, but because they occupy a peripheral space within the history of global modernism. In this lecture, Mitter hopes to redress this imbalance that was true of all non-western modernism including China.

Partha Mitter is a writer and historian of art and culture, specialising in the reception of Indian art in the West, as well as in modernity, art and identity in India, and more recently in global modernism. He studied history at London University and did his doctorate with E. H. Gombrich (1970). He began his career as Junior Research Fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge (1968-69) and Research Fellow at Clare Hall, Cambridge (1970-74). In 1974 he joined Sussex as a Lecturer in Indian History, retiring in 2002 as Professor in Art History.

His publications include Much Maligned Monsters: History of European Reactions to Indian Art (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1977; Chicago University Press Paperback, 1992; Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2013); Art and Nationalism in Colonial India 1850-1922: Occidental Orientations (Cambridge University Press, 1994); Indian Art, Oxford Art History Series (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2002); The Triumph of Modernism: India’s Artists and the Avant-Garde – 1922-1947 (Reaktion Books, London, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2007).

Introduction and moderation of the Q&A by Duane Corpis, Area Head of Humanities & Associate Professor of History, NYU Shanghai.

This event is co-sponsored by the Center for Global Asia, Humanities, The Provost’s Office, and The Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences, NYU Shanghai.

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Location & Details

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