Tagore’s paintings are up for auction in London, but a debate on his merit as an artist of would serve the master better jingoistic nationalism
If nothing else, the debate raises some interesting questions. For instance, how might Rabindranath Tagore have painted if his work had been governed by commercial considerations? Would he have modified his brooding imagery to more closely follow the sentimental lines and wash techniques of the maligned Bengal School? Would he have pandered to the whims of the market, or stayed true to the intelligentsia with its greater knowledge of Munch and Matisse, Cezanne and Picasso, all of whom had in greater or smaller measure influenced Tagore? Alongside Amrita Sher-Gil, Tagore is now counted to among the earliest modernists, but would he have fit into that role if he had not had the unfettered freedom to draw, doodle or paint as he chose?
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