Overview for 2000: Reflections on the Arts in India
The arts reflect a societyâ€™s deeply held values and aesthetic sensibilities. It is therefore necessary to periodically review the arts as an indicator of the broader developments in society and discern the direction in which they are heading. The beginning of a new millennium is an appropriate moment to do so. In this volume, more than a dozen scholars and practitioners â€“ each an expert in his or her field â€“ assess the current state of art in India and look back on a century of changes with enormous shifts in cross-cultural and cross-media influences, and movements for both modernization and revival of traditions. We begin with a tribute to Margâ€™s founder editor, Mulk Raj Anand â€“ part personal memoir and part centennial overview â€“ by young art historian Kavita Singh. Pioneer art critic and activist, at 90 plus Mulk still remains active. Looking at the arts which seek out and preserve a civilizationâ€™s heritage, senior archaeologist B.B. Lal reviews the triumphs and failures of Indian archaeology in the past hundred years, particularly the post-independence period, and noted museologist Asok Kumar Das surveys the museum movement in India and points to successful institutions as a blueprint for the future. Addressing the problem of the division between the "fine arts" and craft traditions, anthropologist Cornelia Mallebrein speaks of the tribal artists among whom she has spent long years, while art historian Jyotindra Jain discusses the place of folk art in todayâ€™s society. From ancient times Indiaâ€™s textile traditions have been world-renowned; Martand Singh, a pioneer in the revival of highly skilled techniques, collaborates with textile historian and designer, Rahul Jain, in an essay that examines the social and historical dimensions of handlooms in the past hundred years. Geeta Kapur, our premier art critic, analyses important recent movements in the contemporary art scene. In their essays on architecture and urban planning, arguably the arts that most affect everyday life, doyen among architects, Balkrishna Doshi, and architectural conservationist, Rahul Mehrotra, sketch visions of the heavens, and the hells, that can be built on earth. Unlike the visual arts which leave behind their achievements in paint of stone, our performing art traditions are both enduring and evanescent. Living in the bodies and actions of performers, music, dance, and theatre require constant renewal, as is brought out in the essays by Sandeep Bagchee on Hindustani music; Sunil Kothari on dance; and Rustom Bharucha on theatre. But contemporary Indiaâ€™s contribution to the world of popular culture lies in its use of the audiovisual medium. Fittingly, we have Shyam Benegal, the celebrated filmmaker, tracing trends in cinema, while Indiaâ€™s seniormost television critic Amita Malik recounts the growth of TV in India. Besides presenting an overview of the current situation in different areas of Indian art, the essays in this richly illustrated turn-of-the-millennium volume offer ideas for future possibilities and view directions for the 21 century.
Pratapaditya Pal (Editor)
Pratapaditya Pal is currently Fellow for Research at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California, and General Editor of Marg Publications in Mumbai. For twenty-five years (1970-95) he was Senior Curator of Indian and Southeast Asian Art at the Los Angeles Country Museum of Art and from 1996 to 2003 Visiting Curator for Indian, Himalayan, and Southeast Asian Art at the Art Institute of Chicago, where he most recently organized the much acclaimed exhibition Himalayas: An Aesthetic Adventure (2003).