Several of the Progressives had had studio spaces there; Ravi Shankar had run his Kinnara Academy for classical music at the Institute, where one of my cousins had been his student; and it was also the locus where Ebrahim Alkazi, the rising star of Indian theatre and champion of Indian artists, had held his rehearsals, lectures, and discussions. Prithviraj Chavan at Bhanu Athaiya's book launch in New Delhi. Far from being a backwater – as ignorant observers resident in Bombay may imagine – Kolhapur was a cultural hub, energetic in its contribution to visual arts, cinema, theatre, music, and culture at large. Gaitonde, and the inducted PAG member Krishen Khanna, who also wrote the elegant introduction to the catalog. He had directed several films in Marathi and Hindi and had given his family wide exposure to cinema, music, and theatre. The Progressives and their associates were often in and out of Prafulla’s mother’s home in Girgaon – some of these impecunious young men were accorded refuge there, from time to time, when they found themselves temporarily without habitation. And indeed, as we learn from Athaiya’s autobiographical notes, this painting may well draw on her own experience of such a sacred space when, as a student at Bombay’s Sir Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy School of Art, she boarded at a girls’ hostel at a convent – unnamed in her notes; perhaps All Saints Convent Dockyard Road, Mazgaon, in one of Bombay’s oldest precincts. Ranjit Hoskote is an Indian poet, art critic, cultural theorist, and independent curator. Bhanu Athaiya Photogallery at ETimes Sustained by distinguished artists as well as prominent citizens, its program of exhibitions addressed a larger audience for the arts. Some governments gave scholarships and sent students to Bombay for training. … Soon enough she found herself as part of an artistic and intellectual milieu, contact with which helped her interrogate more profoundly what it meant to go beyond the stylistic conventions she inherited from art school. [13] Rippling out from Solomon’s pedagogy at the JJ School and his successes within the colonial system of patronage – and feeding even into the greater receptivity to European Modernism advocated by his successor as Principal Charles Gerard – this Bombay Orientalism became endemic to much of the art being produced in western India between the 1920s and 1940s. Bhanu Athaiya (R) with Kumar Shahani and Prithviraj Chavan during her book launch in New Delhi. HOSKOTE CONTENDS that to the younger generation that has only recently discovered Athaiya this comes as news, which explains why, in his opinion, she is presented to the public ‘as a Progressive long lost to view; indeed as the only woman Progressive’. This form of. (en) Bhanu Athaiya, The Art of Costume Design, Harper Collins Publishers India (2010), (ISBN 9788172239435), 188 p. “The First Epoch in modern Indian art belongs to what is now called the Bengal School led by Abanindranath Tagore." Such was the ethos within which Athaiya grew up and recognized her calling in life. [1] Bhanu Rajopadhye Athaiya, undated handwritten notes. Bhanu Athaiya Photogallery. Jagannath Ahivasi, whose name had come to be synonymous with this artistic choice). Alkazi’s Bhulabhai experiment has a pivotal centrality in the history of modernism.… Whether or not they used this term as self-identification, Alkazi and his Bhulabhai circle were caught up in the historic project of casting themselves as a self-aware, critically nimble and dynamic avant-garde.” [15]. Shahu Maharaj also patronized the physical culture movement, with its performances of mall-khamb and kushti by the pehelwans or wrestlers. Lutyens was resolutely opposed to the involvement of Indian artists in the project; Baker was just as resolutely committed to engaging Indian artists for it. endemic to much of the art being produced in western India between the 1920s and 1940s. In the case of the Progressives, it seems pointless, especially when some of those seeking to be sanctified in this manner were strikingly vigorous talents well launched on distinctive trajectories of their own, such as Mohan Samant and, indeed, Bhanu Rajopadhye Athaiya, had she chosen to make her career in art. Founder of one of Bombay’s liveliest public platforms for art, the Mohile Parikh Centre for the Visual Arts, Shaila-behn counted among her friends many of the master spirits who had defined the direction of postcolonial Indian art. On a more positive note, though, one gleans how her having chosen fashion over traditional painting was not just the more viable choice but was indeed her calling. She said, “Academy would be the safest place for … Costume designer Bhanu Athaiya, who won the first Academy Award for India, passed away in Mumbai on Thursday. Progressives, Prafulla stopped me in mid-sentence with a supremely relevant caveat. Given this fact, what do we do, for instance, with the immense art-historical vacuum in the case of female students who earned degrees from art schools around India in pre and post-Independence times whose careers were either subsumed by their practice of housewifely vocations or their decisions to follow other better-paying, professional paths? Gaitonde, and the inducted PAG member Krishen Khanna, who also wrote the elegant introduction to the catalog. The muted and deep hues during the normal days at the convent juxtaposed with the pageantry at Christmas Eve Mass in the Byculla Church inspired me to paint ‘Nuns’ as a tribute to them. advertisement. Nagpur, which belonged to another Presidency called the CP and Berar, and the native States helped students with scholarships because they had no schools of their own. Kolhapur was a cultural hub, energetic in its contribution to visual arts, cinema, theatre, music, and culture at large. Bombay’s cultural life in the 1940s and 1950s was dominated and shaped by an array of magisterial visionaries and institution-builders including the scientist and science administrator Homi Bhabha, who was a leading patron and institutional collector; the novelist and art critic Mulk Raj Anand, founder editor of Marg magazine; the novelist and cultural thinker Raja Rao; that champion of artists, Kekoo Gandhy, who would establish one of Bombay’s earliest private galleries, Chemould, in 1964; the collector and historian Karl Khandalavala; the patron of the arts, Sir Cowasji Jehangir; the Central European émigré connoisseurs and collectors Rudolf von Leyden, Walter Langhammer, and Emmanuel Schlesinger; and the polymathic theatre-maker, artist, collector, gallerist, and archivist Ebrahim Alkazi. . It can retain its small-town scale and warmth while being open and responsive to the globe’s finest offerings. Bhanu's ode to the Progressive Artists' Group, Bhanu Athaiya: The Oscar Winning Designer, Capturing the Zeitgeist : Progressive Artists’ Group, VS Gaitonde's Paintings - Technique And Processes. There were also three other artists: N.D [Noshir] Chapgar, G.M. Bhanu Athaiya's body of work as a costume designer also included films such as Swades, Prem, 1942: A Love Story, Agneepath, Karz, Mr. Natwarlal, Jaani Dushman among others. These, coupled with her notes, offer a picture of a woman artist who derived from the work of other women—from Amrita Sher-Gil’s burnished palette to the penitent form of nuns at the convent in which she lived during her art student years to a recollection of how colour appeared on widowed bodies. Ara, H.A. The accepted canon of modern Indian art, as fixated on the Progressives, is no older than the 1990s, as I have argued elsewhere – in my curatorial essay for an exhibition of modern Indian art drawn from the Abby Weed Grey collection, which is part of the New York University Art Collection. Also Read: Manish Malhotra Revisits Bhanu Athaiya’s Most Iconic Costumes But before textile, it was the easel that called out- Athaiya was a painter. Of these three, Chapgar and Hazarnis have never been regarded as members of the PAG; Raiba showed with the group in 1952 and 1953 but soon realized that his style, oriented towards India’s miniature traditions, had nothing in common with the more School of Paris-leaning painterly ambitions of the PAG. [6] Badri Narayan, ‘Artists of the Third Epoch’, in Lalit Kala Contemporary 3 (New Delhi, 7] For an account of this cultural topography, see Ranjit Hoskote, ‘Celebrating the Sthala-Purana and the Sandhi-sthana: The Polycentric Cultural Universe of Rethinking the, Regional’, in Sheetal R. Darda & Manisha Patil eds. In the foreword to her book The Art of Costume Design, Attenborough wrote: "It took me 17 long years to set up Gandhi, my dream film, and just 15 minutes to make up my mind that Bhanu Athaiya … The story goes – and I cannot plead innocence either; we have all, at one or another time, participated in this myth-making project – that the Group arose through the fortuitous conjuncture of several talented young Bombay artists, to whom three Central European émigré patrons, like magi, brought news of European modernism. Women holding pots by Bhanu Athaiya, c.1945, Ranga Mahotsava by Bhanu Athaiya, c. 1950. These contexts have unjustly been consigned to, oblivion, erased from a dominant narrative in which modernism is believed to arrive on the Bombay art scene only with the dramatic emergence of the. In her autobiographical book, The Art of Costume Design (2010), Athaiya paints a loving portrait of this multi-talented figure: “My father was a self-taught artist. Like the Pant Pratinidhis, who ruled the princely state of Aundh, near Poona (now Pune), the Bhosales also collected art and displayed it, inviting the general audience to view it on specific occasions, thus inaugurating a museum culture in Kolhapur. A glimpse into Bhanu Athaiya’s aesthetic grasp of the female body and fashions, Rosalyn D’Mello Athaiya, the first Indian to win an Oscar for Best Costume Design for Lord Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi in 1983, breathed her last yesterday morning.The news was confirmed by her daughter Radhika. “To kaalkhand hota Bombay artists cha.” Which, translated from the Marathi, means: “Why are you so hung up on the Progressives? The Bhanu Athaiya Estate Sale auction totaled ₹88 lakhs and the Atul Bose Evening Sale totaled ₹1.64 crores The Bhanu Athaiya Estate Sale saw strong interest across the board with a particularly excited flurry of bids for the watercolor paintings. Bhanu Athaiya (née Annasaheb Rajopadhye; 28 April 1929 – 15 October 2020) was an Indian costume designer. Nadkarni, elder statesman among Bombay’s art critics, who first told me that. I was rereading some of the chapters this morning; holding the book again felt special, she has inspired my research process immensely. And some elements within Indian culture form cusps and intersections with, for instance, European or Levantine culture. If anything, we are made aware of our questionable locus as viewers of a private, even intimate moment. It was art critic DG Nadkarni in the early 1990s, followed by Shaila Parikh, founder of Mohile Parikh Center for the Visual Arts, and later artist Prafulla Dahanukar who educated him about Athaiya being a JJ School of Art alumnus. (The auction of artworks from the estate of Bhanu Rajopadhye Athaiya, hosted by the online auction house Prinseps, will take place on December 2nd, 2020), From “Lockdown Garden” Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, Akhil Sood It was certainly the norm in the 1950s and 1960s when the Jehangir Art Gallery at Kala Ghoda, the Artists Aid Centre (later the Artists Centre) on Rampart Row, and the Taj Art Gallery on the Apollo Bunder seafront were the only available venues for exhibition. [8] Bhanu Rajopadhye Athaiya, ‘Bhanu Rajopadhye’s association with the Progressive Artists' Group (typescript dated ‘Bombay: May 2010’). In the spirit of the time, which simultaneously looked back to India’s civilizational glory and forward to its modern future, her mandate was clear: “I had to draw inspiration from India’s heritage and showcase it in my fashion designs.”, As I have observed earlier in this essay, members of the Bombay art world’s older circles – in whose lives the visual arts, cinema, music, architecture, and theatre intersected closely – were perfectly aware of Bhanu Athaiya’s work as an artist, before she left it behind to achieve. In any case, the Progressives did not come together until 1947-1948, and constituted, as I have argued elsewhere, more a moment than a movement, its ephemeral existence assuming fleshly solidity in the nostalgic retrospection of artists, art critics, and art historians rather than in the reality of its brief apogee. In March 2010, Athaiya released her book The Art of Costume Design, published by Harper Collins. The 188-page book, full of pictures of Athaiya's creations, is Bollywood down the ages and in costumes. historians rather than in the reality of its brief apogee. One could write whole essays about each elegant design. received enthusiastic support from an adventurous Bombay frame-maker and gallerist. Featuring 32 lots, the mediums range from sketches to early fashion illustrations and paintings. Pitifully, in the case of modern Indian art, art-historical significance has been configured and reimagined not through scholarship so much as through the diktats of the market. It results from the auction-house economy’s embrace of a series of influential publications and exhibitions, unfolding over the 1990s, as the conceptual foundation of their enterprise. Her studies of temple sculptures and busts can be read retrospectively as prescient forays into design and draughtsmanship, and the scholarly rigour that marked her research that was driven by a quest for authenticity, but combined with a sartorial inventiveness that was entirely the result of her innate talent. That she chose cinema over the visual arts for the expression of her creativity does not, in any way, diminish her aura or her place in India’s cultural history. 27 Nov, 2020. This has, however, come as news to the younger generation that has only recently discovered Athaiya and presented her to the public as a Progressive long lost to view; indeed, as the only woman Progressive. connoisseurs and collectors Rudolf von Leyden, Walter Langhammer, and Emmanuel Schlesinger; and the polymathic theatre-maker, artist, collector, gallerist, and archivist Ebrahim Alkazi. The lots are all direct from the estate, he emphasises. [12]. Such a facetious summary does little to address art history’s very real propensity to erase either the contributions made by women, or the simple fact of their presence at pivotal evolutionary moments. Shahu Maharaj also patronized the physical culture movement, with its performances of mall-khamb and kushti by the pehelwans or wrestlers. Bhanu Athaiya is a “Progressive long lost to view; she is indeed, the only woman Progressive,” art critic Ranjit Hoskote writes in the catalogue for an upcoming auction. Kolhapur demonstrates with compelling clarity that a city does not have to be metropolitan to be cosmopolitan. Bombay’s cultural life in the 1940s and 1950s was dominated and shaped by an array of magisterial visionaries and institution-builders including the scientist and science administrator Homi Bhabha, who was a leading patron and institutional collector; the novelist, and art critic Mulk Raj Anand, founder editor of Marg magazine; the novelist and cultural thinker Raja Rao; that champion of artists, Kekoo Gandhy, who would establish one of Bombay’s earliest private galleries, Chemould, in 1964; the collector and historian Karl Khandalavala; the patron of the arts, Sir Cowasji Jehangir; the Central European émigré. Bhanu Athaiya, India's first Oscar winner, passes away at 91 due to prolonged illness Bhanu Athaiya, who won an Oscar for her work in the 1983 epic film … However, it is unlikely that Khanna, as a young merchant banker – he had joined the Grindlays Bank in 1946, from which he would resign to set out as an independent artist only in 1961 – would display any manifest enthusiasm for an anti-capitalist position. Did their kitchens serve as studios? ‘As students, we were given a lot of opportunities to visit fashion houses and see the big names in the couture world at work. Alongside, students at the JJ during the Solomon regime were also trained in the tradition of the miniatures, so that they were intensely at home in multiple historical lineages and cultural climates (in the late 1940s, Bhanu Athaiya would study the miniature techniques and their adaptation to a contemporary situation under one of Solomon’s students, Jagannath Ahivasi, whose name had come to be synonymous with this artistic choice). Narayan wrote, “the Second to independent and stylistically divergent painters like Jamini Roy and Amrita Sher-Gil; and the Third to those many painters, too numerous to be named individually, too varied in their outlook, those artists who emerged about the 1950s of this century, turning for inspiration not only to their own primitive, prehistoric and the more archaic and early miniature traditions but also to the makers of the new patrimony – Klee, Mondrian, Miro, Villon, Brancusi, Moore, Orozco, Marini, Giacometti, and the host of those eclectic masters of the post-impressionist period. The first of these is the ethos of patronage for the arts and culture within the network of the native Princely States, which – alongside the territories ruled by the British Crown and the few enclaves ruled by France and Portugal – formed a vital element in the patchwork quilt of colonial India. Bhanu Athaiya Photogallery. After seeing ‘Red Oleanders’, an English adaptation of Tagore’s symbolist play, Raktakarabi, the Rajopadhyes met the director, Hima Devi Kesarkodi. I distinctly remember many, discussions about a painting by Alkazi, that of Christ.” [14], This reminiscence brings me to the third formative context for Bhanu Athaiya’s artistic development that I have in mind is the vibrant cultural and artistic scene of Bombay in the early years of Independence, when, The west-coast metropolis was home, also, to an ensemble of gifted artists including, among others, K K Hebbar, Shiavax Chavda, and R D Raval. Hazarnis, and A.A. Raiba. First auction of Bhanu Athaiya's artworks promises to reveal a side of the costume designer few knew 'One part of her work can be called fine art, and one can be called fashion art – but it’s all art in the end,' the curator of Bhanu Athaiya's auction says. 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