When Was Modernism: Essays on Contemporary Cultural Practice in India

Geeta Kapur

First published 2000, hardback

2001 (second edition)


xvi + 440 pages

356 b/w plates

9.5 x 7.25 inches

ISBN: 81-85229-48-1

Rs 975

All rights available

A commitment to modernity is the underlying theme of this volume. Through essays that are interpretive and theoretical, the author seeks to situate the modern in contemporary cultural practice. The essays divide into three sections. The first two sections­ – Artists and Artworks and Film/Narratives – raise questions of authorship, genre, and contemporary features of national culture that materialize into an aesthetic in the Indian context. The last section –Frames of Reference – formalizes the polemical options developed across the book. The essays here propose resistance to the depoliticization of narratives, and affirm an open-ended engagement with the avant-garde. They explore the possibility of art practice finding its own signifying space that is still a space for radical transformation.

Geeta Kapur is an independent art critic and curator living in New Delhi. Her extensive publications on modern Indian art include Contemporary Indian Artists (1978), and exhibition catalogues and monographs on artists. Her essays on cultural criticism have been widely presented in forums of art history and cultural studies. Her curatorial work includes the show ‘Bombay/Mumbai 1992–2001’ in the multi-part exhibition titled ‘Century City: Art and Culture in the Modern Metropolis’, at Tate Modern, London, in 2001. She is a founder-editor of Journal of Arts & Ideas, and advisory editor to Third Text. She has held research fellowships at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi, and Clare Hall, Cambridge.