The Village Voice art critic Jerry Saltz had once said in his book Seeing Out Loud many years ago: “Art first, everything else follows.” Sadly, in India we have failed in following that credo and have been lacking in documentation of art practices as a religion, faith or even independent individual efforts.
In the eighties till the mid-nineties, there was virtually a complete vacuum in publication of art books by galleries. In the earlier phase, it was largely the Lalit Kala Akademi which was churning out monographs and smaller publications.
Till the early 1990s, there were very few books written on Indian contemporary art, barring monographs on leading artists like FN Souza and KG Subramanyan and a few other books published in the seventies. There were hardly any books comprehensively focusing on Indian art barring Tapati Guha Thakurta’s The Making of Indian Art published in 1992 and Neville Tuli’s The Flamed Mosaic, published in 1998. In 2000, Geeta Kapur’s When was Modernism — Essays on Contemporary Cultural Practice in India came out.
The early books on Indian art were 25 Years of Indian Art: Painting, Sculpture in the Post-Independence Era authored by Jaya Appasamy and published by Lalit Kala Akademi in 1972. This was followed by Moving Focus — Essays on Indian Art by KG Subramanyan and Geeta Kapur’s Contemporary Indian Artists published in the late seventies.
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