Art, But Not Quite: Towards a New Ethnography of Productions, Practices and Livelihoods

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Thursday, October 15th, 2015

Thursday, October 15, 20154:00PM - 6:00PMEaton Theatre, Royal Ontario
Museum, 100 Queens Park
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B.N. Pandey Memorial Lecture 2015/2016


Taking the long 20th century as its canvas, this lecture will explore the multiple strands of skills and commercial/commissioned art practices that have shaped the visual worlds of urban India but have remained largely unaddressed in modern Indian art history. I wish, in particular, to push outside certain defined arenas of ”popular” art – constituted by rural folk and craft traditions, ”bazaar” and calendar pictures, and print iconographies – to consider other spheres of practice that have grown out of the democratizing opportunities of doing “art” and becoming an “artist” in modern and contemporary India.

TAPATI GUHA-THAKURTA is Professor in History and the Director of the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta (CSSSC). Her two main books are The Making of a New ”Indian” Art: Artists, Aesthetics and Nationalism in Bengal (Cambridge University Press, 1992) and Monuments, Objects, Histories: Institutions of Art in Colonial and Postcolonial India (Columbia University Press and Permanent Black, 2004). She has written widely on the art and cultural history of modern India, and has authored several exhibition monographs – among them, Visual Worlds of Modern Bengal: An introduction to the archive of the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta (Kolkata:Seagull, 2002), The Aesthetics of the Popular Print: Lithographs and Oleographs from 19th and 20th Century India (Birla Academy of Art and Culture, Kolkata, 2006); and The City in the Archive: Calcutta’s Visual Histories (Calcutta: CSSSC, 2011). She has recently co-edited two anthologies of essays: Theorising the Present: Essays for Partha Chatterjee (Delhi: OUP, 2011) and New Cultural Histories of India: Materiality and Practices (Delhi: OUP, 2013). Her latest book is called In the Name of the Goddess: The Durga Pujas of Contemporary Kolkata (Delhi: Primus Books, 2015).


Rachel Ostep


Tapati Guha-Thakurta
Professor, History and Director, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta


Centre for South Asian Studies

American Council for Southern Asian Art


Asian Institute

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