Archive for July, 2009

PHILADELPHIA, PA.- Drawing together a diverse range of paintings and sculptures from across the subcontinent, Ragas and Rajas: Musical Imagery of Courtly India explores the confluence of sight and sound, king and god throughout a millennium of artistic vision in India. Artists also imagined the modes of classical Indian music (ragas) as vivid scenes from an idealized world inhabited by human and divine courtiers. These images were paired with poetry and organized into sets called ragamalas (garlands of ragas). Made exclusively for India’s royal patrons, ragamalas blend music, poetry, and painting in a unique synthesis of aesthetic experiences. The exhibition will be on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art through November 18th, 2009.

As the visual arts of India reveal, music played a central role in the lives of rajas (rulers) and their retinues. Depictions of royal assemblies invariably include musicians, as do scenes of festivals and celebrations for birth or marriage. Drums and horns rallied troops and announced the arrival of the raja’s army, as shown in paintings from across the region. Music was (and is still today) central to the worship, identities, and stories of supreme royalty—the Hindu gods. In the idyllic “miniature” painting “The Gods Sing and Dance for Shiva and Parvati” (1780-1790), the entertainment of the divine court echoes that of the earthly. For some deities, music-making is inseparable from their identities: Krishna enchants devotees with his flute; Shiva plays his two-headed drum as he dances the cosmic cycles of creation and destruction.

“The human and the divine really overlap in the visual arts of India,” said exhibition organizer Yael Rice, Assistant Curator of Indian and Himalayan Art. “For both rajas and gods, musical performance is portrayed as a source not only of pleasure, but also of earthly and heavenly power.”

Museum History

In 1876, the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art (as it was originally titled) was chartered with a goal of establishing “a Museum of Art, in all its branches and technical application, and with a special view to the development of the art and textile industries of the state.” The founders envisioned a museum along the lines of the recently completed South Kensington Museum in London (today known as the Victoria and Albert Museum), but different in having an active school as a close adjunct—where creative craftsmen could be trained for the growing industries of the United States.

On May 10, 1877, exactly one year after the inauguration of the Centennial Exposition, Memorial Hall reopened as a permanent museum. The Pennsylvania Museum School of Industrial Art opened on December 17, 1877, in a separate location at 312 North Broad Street, with an entering class of 100 students. The school’s growing enrollment necessitated a series of moves over the next 15 years to larger quarters, until finally on September 10, 1893, classes opened in a new building at Broad and Pine Streets designed by John Haviland in the Greek Revival style. All students received instruction in drawing, painting, and modeling, with specialized courses in textiles, furniture design, pottery, wood carving, metalwork, and other crafts.

Indian Art Ideas



When is Art pornography?

   Posted by: admin    in Art News Updates

Mumbai: A recent news report mentioned that a Chinese woman landed herself in trouble when she tried to sell an ancient mirror containing an image which had four pairs of lovers on it. She was arrested on charges of selling pornography. In Mumbai too, artists have often faced flak for art that has been ‘misconstrued’ as pornography.

One of the most prominent cases being that of renowned artist Akbar Padamsee who was arrested for his ‘nude’ works in 1954. “Both the lower and higher courts upheld my view,” he asserts. “I think pornography is in the mind of the spectator and it is the latter who must be taken to the psychiatrist, not the artist.”

Another instance is the exhibition Futurisitic Shiva by artist Rajat Dhar that showed at Ashish Balram Nagpal’s gallery last year. “It got me into a tangle with the cops because it focused on Shiva’s torso,” says Nagpal. “I also had a serious problem when I presented Sanjeev Khandekar’s show in 2007 called Tits, Clits and Elephant Dick at Jehangir Art Gallery. Someone filed a litigation saying his work was all about nudity,” he recalls. “It’s not right. You can’t censor art; it goes against what it stands for.”

Echoes gallery owner Shireen Gandhy on the public uproar of Khandekar’s exhibition that resulted in the work subsequently being taken out by the management of the gallery. “That was the most reprimandable thing! It makes my blood boil and I feel so disgruntled and sick about it as it had become a whole moral police issue.”

But secretary of Jehangir Art Gallery, K G Menon, has a differing view. “Our management has taken a strong objection to nude works being shown in the gallery; works that are ‘unbearable’ are not put up. That is because this is a public gallery and we have even five and six-year-olds coming in and such nude works can definitely harm their young minds.”

Gallery owner Vickram Sethi has the last say, “In India, we have such a convoluted view of pornography and it’s quite a hypocritical stance. Look at Indian mythology — it borders on the erotic!”