Pre-Modern Art

The Pre-Modern Section of the collection holds some of the most canonised works of Indian art. Its key highlights include a selection of miniature paintings – with Mughal, Jain, Rajput and Pahari schools being represented, Chola bronzes, temple art from Southern India, as well as Mysore and Tanjore paintings.

One of MAP’s most debated departments, it exemplifies the limitations of unidimensional categorisation and the need for broader crosscurrents by also holding later and popular works that speak of older traditions such as pichwais and paithan paintings.

Pick up any book with an overview of Indian art, and it’s a safe bet to assume that you will encounter some reference to either miniature paintings or temple art and architecture. In the manner of Greek Art in Europe, they form the classical traditions of art in India, and this section of MAP’s collection houses some of these most canonical works.

This is also however, one of MAP’s most debated departments; exemplifying the limitations of unidimensional classification and our attempt to locate broader linkages between art historical categories — it also houses later and popular Indian works that speak of older traditions such as Pichwais and Paithan paintings. Through a wide variety of Indian painting and sculptural traditions over centuries, this section of the collection reconsiders the role of the past in the present, and traces evolving artistic styles and techniques as products of differing schools of aesthetics and socio-cultural conditions.

The key highlights of this section include exquisite bronze idols, stone and wooden sculptures of deities and their vehicles, carved wooden reliefs from chariots and other instances of temple art from southern India. Also housed are a selection of Mysore and Tanjore paintings, thereby providing a fairly holistic view of the rich variety of early art forms that were produced in the region that is South India today.

Another important segment of pre-modern art in MAP’s collection is a selection of miniature paintings from northern and western India, that include Mughal and Jain manuscripts, and paintings from the Rajput and Pahari schools.

A central agenda of this section is to allow for connections to be drawn between classical art forms, commercial art forms and subaltern artistic practices; and to enable the linking of pre-modern iconography to visual imagery as represented by popular art forms and photography.


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