Printmaking and professionalism in early twentieth century Bengal

Adrienne J. Fast
2015
The early twentieth century in Bengal was a time of great social transformation, when many new ways of being and making a living in the world became suddenly possible and negotiable. Amongst the new livelihoods finding expression in that time and place was that of the modern, urban, professional Bengali printmaking artist, one who combined professional artistic training and certification with a determination to carve out spaces of economic and social opportunity for himself, often very
more » ... often very difficult circumstances. Most artists struggled to forge successful careers at this time, but those who were engaged with print and printmaking media were able to take advantage of unique opportunities and were faced with particular challenges. Each chapter of this thesis deals with particular images and objects, certain institutions and texts, in order to trace the modern, professional Bengali printmaking artist through the contested spaces of a rapidly professionalizing art world that was itself emerging and transforming in Bengal, particularly in the urban centre of Calcutta from roughly the 1920s to the 1940s. By looking closely at how the relationships between individualism and collectivity, and between village India and modern urban agglomerations, were represented and negotiated in and through print and printmaking media during this period, this thesis also complicates our understanding of how these twinned issues were connected to the experience of modernity and modern art in South Asia. Finally, this thesis addresses the Bengal Famine of 1943, its representation in the art of the period, and how its cataclysmic circumstances were a context in which the issues and themes discussed throughout this project manifested in particularly urgent ways.
doi:10.14288/1.0167716 fatcat:bs75sruybvgmdkvltbdprmuwnq