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Tagore Triptych

May 16, 2011
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 As part of the celebration of the Tagore Sesquicentennial, the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi has a wonderful exhibition, Circle of Art: The Three Tagores that has been curated in great style by Ela Dutta.

The three Tagores are Rabindranath and his two nephews Gaganendranath and Abanindranath, and  Circle of Art: The Three Tagores explores the milieu, their individual temperaments and their search for a new visual language. The exhibition is very extensive, making it possible to see the three artists  use of fantasy, mystery and romanticism… and  the impact of their art on modern Indian visual culture.

Also available from the NGMA accompanying the exhibition is a superb reproduction of six prints, priced at an unbelievable Rs 200. Some of the images chosen can be seen on the left- these can be ordered through the SwB Maps, Prints and Poster ministore.

While on the NGMA, they have a great website from which we reproduce some of the material below. Their  principal aims and objectives are

  • To acquire and preserve works of modern art from 1850s onward
  • To organize, maintain and develop galleries for permanent display
  • To organize special exhibitions not only in its own premises but in other parts of the country and abroad.
  • To develop an education and documentation centre in order to acquire, maintain and preserve documents relating to works of modern art
  • To develop a specialized library of books, periodicals, photographs and other audio visual materials
  • To organize lectures, seminars and conferences, and to encourage higher studies and research in the field of art history, art criticism, art appreciation, museology and the inter-relations on visual and performing arts.

First mooted in 1949, the idea of the NGMA was nurtured by Jawaharlal Nehru and Maulana Azad, bureaucrats like Humayun Kabir and an active art community. Vice-president Dr S Radhakrishanan formally inaugurated the NGMA in the presence of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and artists and art lovers of the city on March 29, 1954. The choice of Jaipur House, one of the premier edifices of Lutyens’ Delhi, signified the envisaged high profile of the institution. Designed by Sir Arthur Bloomfield, as a residence for the Maharaja of Jaipur, the butterfly-shaped building with a central dome was built in 1936. It was styled after a concept of the Central Hexagon visualised by Sir Edwin Lutyens. It was Lutyens, along with Herbert Baker, who visualised and gave shape to the new capital in Delhi. Along with buildings designed for other princely potentates like Bikaner and Hyderabad, Jaipur House girded the India Gate circle. The famous architect conceptualised a harmony of facades giving the buildings a distinctive character.

NGMA’s inauguration was marked by an exhibition of sculptures. All the prominent sculptors of the time like Debi Prasad Roy Chowdhury, Ramkinkar Baij, Sankho Chaudhuri, Dhanraj Bhagat, Sarbari Roy Chowdhury and others had participated. The show spoke of the painstaking preparations made by NGMA’s first curator Herman Goetz. A noted German art historian, Goetz had earlier been responsible for setting up the Baroda Museum.Since Goetz’s tenure, NGMA has had a string of distinguished directors.

The Gallery is the premier institution of its kind in India. It is run and administered as a subordinate office to the Department of Culture, Government of India. The NGMA has two branches one at Mumbai and the other at Bangaluru shortly. The gallery is a repository of the cultural ethos of the country and showcases the changing art forms through the passage of the last hundred and fifty years starting from about 1857 in the field of Visual and Plastic arts. Notwithstanding some gaps and some trivia, the NGMA collection today is undeniably the most significant collection of modern and contemporary art in the country today.

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