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In Her Own Right

Tapati Guha-Thakurta (Author)
Synopsis Karuna Shaha (1921–1996) was one of the first women students to enrol in the Government College of Art and Crafts, Calcutta, and amongst the first women artists who persisted—indeed, insisted—on claiming professional space in her own right. She exhibited regularly, continuing with her drawing, sketching and painting right till the end of her life. She was a founder member of The Group, a collective of women artists. Shaha remains best known for her studies of the female nude, and art historian Tapati Guha-Thakurta's insightful analysis explains how 'the nude would become for her the prime symbol of artistic freedom and the shedding of inhibitions . . . [with] Karuna wresting this motif from the space of the European Academy and taking it home with her as her most prized and powerful inheritance . . . As it becomes the chosen theme of her art since the 60s, we also see the female nude being invested with an earthiness and energy that quietly subverts the prior history and aesthetics of the image . . . The bodies which inhabit her drawings and paintings through the 60s and 70s are deliberately divested of any sense of the idealistic or ethereal. They exude, instead, a sexuality that is defiant and disturbing. They make a point of not being seductive or beautiful . . . the artist wanting to capture through charcoal and ink or brush and paint the sheer materiality and corpulence of human flesh. And these bodies are always drawn from life—based, it seems, not just on real models but also on persons intimately known—clothed in an unusual feeling of empathy between the artist and the women who posed before her.' Dr Tapati Guha-Thakurta is an art historian and a Fellow at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta. She is the author of The Making of a New ‘Indian’ Art: Artists, Aesthetics and Nationalism in Bengal (Cambridge University Press, 1992). She has written widely on popular and modern art practices in India and is now completing a book on art institutions in colonial and post-colonial India.
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About the author

Tapati Guha-Thakurta

Tapati Guha-Thakurta is Professor of History at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata. The author of the Making of a new 'Indian' Art: Artists, Aesthetics, and Nationalism in Bengal, She is a specialist on art and the cultural history of modern India.

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Bibliographic information

Title In Her Own Right
Format Hardcover
Date published: 01.01.2001
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 8170461995
length 76p., Plates.