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Lecture and Luncheon: The Secular Icon—Modernist Art and the Sacred Image in Independent India

April 27, 2016
11:00AM1:00PM
Nichols Board of Trustees Suite
$60 members of the Asian Art Council, Friends of Indian and Islamic Art, and Sustaining Fellows; $80 general public

Encounters with Asia: Masterpieces of Indian Art

Secular Icon—Modernist Art and the Sacred Image in Independent India

After India gained independence from British rule, its modern artists tried to provide their country with an art responsive to both its complex past and present diversity. Among the most attractive cultural resources for artists was the religious iconography associated with Hindu mythology. This lecture examines how three renowned artists—M. F. Husain, K. G. Subramanyan, and Bhupen Khakhar—grappled differently with sacred imagery within the profoundly secular discourse of modernist art. It attests to not only depth and range of modernist experimentation with secularity in India but also the unequal freedom that artists have to use religious iconography in their work.


Karin Zitzewitz is an associate professor of art history and visual culture at Michigan State University and a specialist in the modern and contemporary art of India and Pakistan. Her book The Art of Secularism: The Cultural Politics of Modernist Art in Contemporary India (Hurst & Co Publishers and Oxford University Press, 2014) was awarded the Edward C. Dimock Prize in the Humanities from the American Institute for Indian Studies and named a best book of the year by New Republic. Among her curatorial projects are Naiza Khan: Karachi Elegies (2013) and Mithu Sen: Border Unseen (2014), both for the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University. Alongside essays for academic audiences, Zitzewitz has contributed to exhibition catalogs for the Peabody Essex Museum, the Smart Art Museum at the University of Chicago, and Tate Modern. She collaborated with Mumbai gallerist Kekoo Gandhy on a memoir, The Perfect Frame: Presenting Modern Indian Art (2003).

 

RSVP by contacting the Office of Sustaining Fellows at (312) 443-3735. Space is limited.

 

Encounters with Asia: Masterpieces of Indian Art is a lecture and luncheon series presented by the Asian Art Council, the Friends of Indian and Islamic Art, and the Sustaining Fellows of the Art Institute of Chicago that meets on Wednesdays in April.

 

Per person, per lecture: $60 members of the Asian Art Council, Friends of Indian and Islamic Art, and Sustaining Fellows, $80 general public

 

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Buddha with Left Hand in Gesture of Gift Giving (Varadamudra), Chola period, 11th/12th century. Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu, India. Samuel Nickerson Fund.