Skip to main content

Distributed for Reaktion Books

The Triumph of Modernism

India’s Artists and the Avant-garde, 1922-47

          The tumultuous last decades of British colonialism in India were catalyzed by more than the work of Mahatma Gandhi and violent conflicts. The concurrent upheavals in Western art driven by the advent of modernism provided Indian artists in post-1920 India a powerful tool of colonial resistance. Distinguished art historian Partha Mitter now explores in this brilliantly illustrated study this lesser known facet of Indian art and history.

          Taking the 1922 Bauhaus exhibition in Calcutta as the debut of European modernism in India, The Triumph of Modernism probes the intricate interplay of Western modernism and Indian nationalism in the evolution of colonial-era Indian art. Mitter casts his gaze across a myriad of issues, including the emergence of a feminine voice in Indian art, the decline of “oriental art,” and the rise of naturalism and modernism in the 1920s. Nationalist politics also played a large role, from the struggle of artists in reconciling Indian nationalism with imperial patronage of the arts to the relationship between primitivism and modernism in Indian art.  An engagingly written study anchored by 150 lush reproductions, The Triumph of Modernism will be essential reading for scholars of art, British studies, and Indian history.

256 pages | 100 color plates, 50 halftones | 7.5 x 9.75 | © 2007

Art: Art--General Studies, Middle Eastern, African, and Asian Art

Reaktion Books image

View all books from Reaktion Books


"Lucid and well-illustrated."

The Independent

"Mitter proceeds chronologically . . . filling the immensely readable pages with personality, place and incident--and with a remarkably low incident of art-speak and theory--giving the reader a sense of living through the 25 years as a member of this remarkable community."

Don J. Cohn | Art AsiaPacific

Table of Contents

The Formalist Prelude
The Indian Discourse of Primitivism
   I  Two Pioneering Women Artists
  II  Rabindranath Tagore’s Vision of Art and the Community
 III  Jamini Roy and Art for the Community
Naturalists in the Age of Modernism
   I  The Regional Expressions of Academic Naturalism
  II  From Orientalism to a New Naturalism: K. Venkatappa and Deviprosad Roy Chowdhury
Contested Nationalism: The New Delhi and India House Murals
Photo Acknowledgements

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press