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Cholamandal: An Artists' Village

Joseph James (Editor)
Synopsis This is the story of Cholamandal, which began in 1966 as an artists' village situated on a ten-acre plot on the Coromandel Coast near Chennai. It offered a place where artists could live, create, and share their art with others within the community. At Cholamandal, the creative artist is an equal participant in society, self-employed and independent. This book profiles a series of such creative artists, who have each carved a place for themselves in the world of art, some of them, internationally. Illustrated with over 130 beautiful colour plates depicting the artists' work, this is a wonderful and important document of a novel and sustainable idea, one which deserves emulation. Cholamandal was an attempt to foster a genre of art which, according to the principal of the institution in its early days, the late K.C.S. Panicker, was 'Indian in spirit and world-wide contemporary'. Towards the end of the fifties, many painters and sculptors in the Madras School of Arts and Crafts joined in the search for what amounted to a new way of life in contemporary art. The venture was an exciting one and soon proved to be exacting as well. Thirty talented painters and sculptors acquired land to work at Cholamandal in comparative peace. There, the artist would paint or sculpt through the major part of the day, and applied himself to a congenial art craft during leisure hours, to supplement, if necessary, his income from the sale of paintings and sculptures. In the book, a biographical sketch or interview with each artist explains the motivation and technique behind the works produced at Cholamandal. These artists, some of whom live and work there even now, with a few exceptions, were once students of the Government School of Arts and Crafts, Madras. Cholamandal marked a new way of life in Indian contemporary art, and is perhaps the first of its kind anywhere in the world. This book reveals the artists who lived there, as well as the spirit behind their works, to the general reader and the connoisseur of modern Indian art.
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About the author

Joseph James

Josef James (d. 1998) held a doctorate in Economics and was a professor at the Madras Christian College. He served as an editor for Artrends, a journal published by the Progressive Painters’ Association of Madras for over two decades. He was an art critic and Western music critic for the Indian Express, Madras, and wrote regularly for journals such as the Lalit Kala Contemporary. He is one of the authors of the book Indian Art Since the Early 40s – A Search for Identity, published by the artists of the Cholamandal Artists’ Village. He edited Art and Life in India after Independence for the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla, and is the author of The Madras Metaphor and An Algebra of Figuration, two books on sculpture published by OUP.

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Bibliographic information

Title Cholamandal: An Artists' Village
Author Joseph James
Format Hardcover
Date published: 01.01.2004
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 0195669886
length 400p., Plates; 28cm.