Saturday, December 3, 2011

RE-LOOK : The Making of a Modern Indian Artist-Craftsman: Devi Prasad

a lecture by
Naman Ahuja
Art Historian, JNU, New Delhi.

The Making of a Modern Indian Artist-Craftsman: Devi Prasad

This lecture is a biographical and critical insight into the work of India’s pioneering artist-potter, educationist and pacifist, Devi Prasad (1921 – 2011). The gentle sensibilities of his oeuvre belie the fact that they are actually based on a powerful, near-revolutionary mandate that affected not just the history of design in India, but the very basis and nature of India’s policies on education. Positing an aesthetic basis for India’s Freedom struggle, the talk leads us to the impact of the Arts and Crafts Movement on Gandhi, Tagore and Coomaraswamy, each of whom influenced Devi Prasad. His story, then, exemplifies how an inheritance of the Arts and Crafts Movement shaped the nature of Modernism in India.

Naman P. Ahuja is Associate Professor of Ancient Indian Art and Architecture at JNU, New Delhi, where his research and graduate teaching focus on Indian iconography, sculpture, temple architecture and Sultanate period painting. He has recently completed a Nehru Fellowship, under the auspices of which he authored The Making of the Modern Indian Craftsman: Devi Prasad (Routledge, 2011). He has held Fellowships, Visiting Professorships and Curatorial charges at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, SOAS, the British Museum and the Kusnthistorisches Institut in Florence. He has curated several exhibitions in India and abroad on themes ranging from Ancient to Modern Art. Some of his publications include: Divine Presence, The Arts of India and the Himalayas (Five continents editions, Milan, 2003) which was translated into Catalan and Spanish, “Changing Gods, Enduring Rituals: Observations on Early Indian Religion as seen through Terracotta Imagery c. 200 BC – AD 200” in South Asian Archaeology, Paris, 2001, and, Ramkinkar Through the Eyes of Devi Prasad (Delhi, 2007).

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