Indian art

From Academic Kids

Indian art The unique qualities of Indian art can be best understood through a broad cultural history,religions and philosophies which place art production and patronage in social and cultural contexts. Indian art can be classified into specific periods each reflecting certain religious, political and cultural developments. Hinduism and Buddhism of the ancient period (300BC- 1700 AD) Islamic ascendancy (712-1757AD) The colonial period (1757-1947) Independence and the postcolonial period (Post-1947) Modern and Post Modern Art in India

Through the years, there has been tremendous change urging the Indian conscious to profoundly change, revolutionize itself with the changing demands and to create anew. Each period comes with its own art, literature and architecture. Indian art is moved by the philosophies, beliefs and visual images that these philosophies and religions inspired in them. Indian art is constantly challenged as it rises to the peak of achieving the best ideals of one philosophy in a visual form, it has to begin anew for another. It is this challenge and revolution in thought that provided the Indian artist, place for innovation, creation, and the process of visualizing abstract ideas and the culture of the land.

Each religion and philosophical system provided its own nuances, vast metaphors and similes, rich associations, wild imaginations, humanization of Gods and celestial beings, characterization of people, the single purpose and ideal of life to be interpreted in art

Interrelationship in Indian Arts The visual arts are basically sculpture, painting and architecture. However in the Indian context, there is a great degree of interrelationship between all the arts. According to Kapila Vatsyayan, ?Classical Indian architecture, sculpture, painting, literature (kaavya), music and dancing evolved their own rules conditioned by their respective media, but they shared with one another not only the underlying spiritual beliefs of the Indian religio-philosophic mind, but also the procedures by which the relationships of the symbol and the spiritual states were worked out in detail.? An insight into the unique qualities of Indian art can be achieved only through an understanding of the philosophical thought, the broad cultural history, social, religious and political background of the artworks. In India the distinction between fine and decorative arts is not pronounced.

India has a continuous history of art starting with the rock paintings. The first urban cultures of Harappa and Mohenjodaro with their centrally planned cities indicate a highly developed culture and an understanding of space is clear from their architecture. The dancing girl from Mohenjodaro, various seals from Harappa and other art objects show that there was a clear knowledge of anatomy of the human figure as well as a high degree of awareness and perception of animal forms. The use of symbolic forms in India is as old as the Harappan seals. The fire altars of the Vedic period, with their astronomical and mathematical significance also play an important role in the evolution of the later temples.

Rock Cut Art The earliest Indian religion to inspire major artistic monuments was Buddhism. Though there may have been earlier structures in wood that have been transformed into stone structures, there are no physical evidences for these except textual references. Obscurity shrouds the period between the decline of the Harappans and the definite historic period starting with the Mauryas. Soon after the Buddhists initiated the rock-cut caves, Hindus and Jains started to imitate them at Badami, Aihole, Ellora, Salsette, Elephanta, Aurangabad and Mamallapuram. Hindu rock art has continuously evolved, since the first rock cut caves to suit different purposes, social and religious contexts, and regional differences. Alongside the classical art, there have been evolving, changing, transforming, folk and tribal art traditions. These art forms are the visual expression of people belonging to different cultural and social groups who fall into the broad category of Hinduisms. It is the expression of people whose life is tuned to the rhythms of nature and its laws of cyclic change and whose life is entwined with the energies of the earth.

Folk Art Folk and tribal art represent the kernel of energy of the respective communities as a whole. It is a living, changing art form which, cannot be documented historically, as it changes with time, necessity, memories and experiences of these people. Often puranic gods and legends are transformed into contemporary forms and familiar images. Fairs, festivals and local deities play a vital role in these arts. It is an art where life and creativity are inseparable. The tribal arts have a unique sensitivity, as the tribal people possess an intense awareness very different from the settled and urbanized people. Their minds are supple and intense with myth, legends, snippets from epic, multitudinous gods born out of dream and fantasy. Their art is an expression of their life and holds their passion and mystery. Folk art also includes the visual expressions of the wandering nomads. This is the art of people who are exposed to changing landscapes as they travel over the valleys and highlands of India. They carry with them the experiences and memories of different spaces and their art consists of the transient, changing pattern of life. The rural, tribal and arts of the nomads constitute the very matrix of folk expression. The folk spirit has a tremendous role to play in the development of art and in the consciousness of the mass.


  • Harsha V. Dehejia, The Advaita of Art (Delhi : Motilal Banarsidass, 2000) , p.97
  • Kapila Vatsyayan, Classical Indian Dance in Literature and the Arts (New Delhi : Sangeet Natak Akademi, 1977) , p.8
  • Mitter, Partha. Indian Art, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001

Modern Indian Art This article includes a history of Indian art, done by people within India, such as M_F_Husain or by the Indian people, or by Indian expats abroad. The influence of Indian art has been extensive throughout the western world as the result of the invasions of Alexander the Great, Buddhism, the cultural transference of Indian culture through England's interest in orientalism from the early 18th century onwards, with the greatest exchanges being in Victorian times, and then revived in the 1960s. The influence of Indian art in China, on Korean art, and elsewhere was equally dramatic as drawn from the influences of again Buddhism and the frequent exchanges of scholars from the 12th century onwards.

Sotheby's recently had a huge international success in sales on Indian impressionists. This has led to immense valuations on other artists. Akbar Padamsee's Mirror Image went for $1,86,000. Husain's Shatranj Ke Khiladi went for $1,44,000. Chittrovanu Mazumdar sold for $54,000. A Ramachandran went for $50,400. Bikash Bhattacharjee went for $48,000 and Prabhakar Barwe for $33,600. All of whom represent the best of Indian art, and are still unknown to the general public outside of India.








Performance art


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