Modernist Art from India

    November 18, 2011 - April 9, 2012

    B. Prabha (1933–2001); Fisherwoman, 1960; Oil on canvas; Collection of Shelley and Donald Rubin

    The first exhibition in the three-part Modernist Art from India series, The Body Unbound focuses on representations of the figure and the body in modernist art from India after that nation's independence in 1947.

    Figuration has been a long, sustained tradition in Indian art and Indian artists had already begun to incorporate secular and non-courtly figures into their works prior to Independence. Post-Independence, notions of the figure and body became connected with the creation of new cultural identities as well as the broad social and political concerns facing a new nation.

    Reflecting on the predominant concerns of India's artists in the decades after Independence, The Body Unbound considers the artistic and psychological significance of figurative modes in these paintings. As India's artists negotiated professional, social, and political spaces for themselves in a changing nation, the way in which they represented the body continued to evolve. The exhibition will include works from the early 1940s to the mid-1980s, ranging from traditionalist representations of Indian villagers and townspeople to representations of the metaphysical "man" to the socially and politically charged narrative representations that predominated in the 1980s.

    This exhibition was supported, in part, by the Vadehra Art Gallery and the Dedalus Foundation, Inc.

    The Body Unbound will be followed by Approaching Abstraction in spring 2012.

    Curated by Beth Citron


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    Selected Works

    Below is a selection of six featured artworks included in current exhibition, The Body Unbound. Each one of these works was also discussed on our Exhibition Audio Tour, a free download available from iTunesU.

    Click here to download the Audio Tour from iTunesU


    Modernist Art from India: Related Talks and Programs

    Members-only Preview and Keytalk
    Thursday, December 8 at 6 p.m.

    Please join us for an exclusive members-only preview of the exhibition, Hero, Villain, Yeti: Tibet in Comics. This event will also celebrate the new exhibition, Modernist Art from India: The Body Unbound. Members will receive an invitation for two.

    Drawing The Body Unbound: Exploring the Figure
    Wednesdays, February 1–22, 2012 from 6:30–9:30 p.m.

    In this four-session art making workshop, participants will explore the figure in early Himalayan and modernist Indian art. Comparing the treatment of the figure in these two vibrant artistic time periods, participants will discover how gesture and contour were employed by artists for capturing the powerful likenesses of gods and goddesses, as well as for personal expressions of Post–Independence India’s rapidly changing identity. After in-gallery sessions, participants will create figurative art using graphite, watercolor, and gouache. This program includes exhibition tours as well as exclusive after-hours access to the galleries for drawing.

    No drawing experience necessary. All materials included. Advance registration required.

    Course Fee: $175, $150 members

    Register Now

    For more information, email


    Exhibition Resources

    iTunesU IconAudio Tour

    Download Audio Tour from iTunesU

    Timeline thumbnailThe Modernist Art Movement from India Timeline

    Explore an interactive timeline discussing the Modernist Art movement and the historical events that helped shaped the art in India through photographs and videos.
    Launch Interactive

    Educator Resource Guide

    Download Resource Guide for The Body Unbound


    Installation thumbnailInstallation Photography

    Click here to view the exhibition installation of Modernist Art from India: The Body Unbound