Sunday, February 28, 2016

Worldly affiliations:Artistic practice,National identity and Modernism in India

About the Talk

Sonal Khullar will discuss her newly published book, Worldly Affiliations: Artistic Practice, National Identity and Modernism in India, 1930-1990, in the context of new global histories of modernism and recent exhibitions of contemporary art from India. Drawing on Edward Said’s notion of affiliation as a critical and cultural imperative against empire and nation-state, this book traces the emergence of a national art world in twentieth-century India and emphasizes its cosmopolitan ambitions and orientations. It focuses on four major Indian artists – Amrita Sher-Gil, Maqbool Fida Husain, K. G. Subramanyan, and Bhupen Khakhar —whose careers reveal a distinctive trajectory of modernism in the visual arts in India that is foundational to the representational practices of the present. Khullar analyzes the shifting terms of Indian artists’ engagement with the West –an urgent yet fraught project in the wake of British colonialism—and to a lesser extent with African and Latin American cultural movements like N├ęgritude and Mexican muralism. Such cross-cultural negotiations were by no means exclusive to the artists of this study, but were the structural conditions for modernism in twentieth-century India.

About the Speaker

Sonal Khullar is Associate Professor of South Asian Art at the University of Washington, Seattle. She is the author of Worldly Affiliations: Artistic Practice, National Identity and Modernism in India, 1930-1990 (University of California Press, 2015). Her research interests include global histories of modern and contemporary art, feminist theory, and postcolonial studies.

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