India’s Rockefeller Artists: An Indo-U.S. Cultural Saga

  • NEW YORK, New York
  • /
  • October 11, 2017

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Satish Gujral, Untitled,1963, Encaustic on canvas, 17.2 x 22 in. Courtesy DAG Modern - India's Rockerfeller Artists
Krishen Khanna, Untitled (Bandwalls), 1988, Oil on canvas, 67.7 x 52.7 in. Courtesy DAG Modern - India's Rockerfeller Artists.

DAG Modern will present India’s Rockefeller Artists: An Indo-U.S. Cultural Saga in its New York gallery at 41 East 57th Street at the Fuller Building in Midtown, Manhattan. The exhibition, from Nov. 6, 2017 to March 2018, showcases iconic works of the Indian painters and sculptors who travelled to the US on grants enabled by John D. Rockefeller III’s philanthropic vision, first through the JDR 3rd Fund (1963–1979) and then through the Asian Cultural Council.

These artists were brought to the US to see and understand American art and also to share their own learnings and experiences through a cultural exchange that would enrich communities. The show examines why and how these artists were selected; their relationships with each other and the American art milieu; the impact of the experience on their body of work; and the creation of a community of Rockefeller artists.

The grant benefited some of India’s most important artists, among them V.S. Gaitonde, whose work formed the subject of a retrospective at the Guggenheim, New York, in 2013; Tyeb Mehta, one of the most widely collected artists in private and public collections; Akbar Padamsee, Ram Kumar, Bal Chhabda and Krishen Khanna, all associates of the then Bombay-based Progressive Artists’ Group. Natvar Bhavsar, Jyoti Bhatt, K.G. Subramanyan, A.M. Davierwala, Avinash Chandra, Arun Bose, Paritosh Sen, K.S. Kulkarni, Vinod Dave, Bhupen Khakhar and Rekha Rodwittiya were some of the others whose contribution to Indian art practice in the twentieth century has been seminal.

K G Subramanyan, Untitled, Oil on Masonite board, 29.7 x 35.7 in. Courtesy DAG Modern - India's Rockerfeller Artists.

This exhibition is accompanied by a 500-page publication. A product of extensive research from the Rockefeller and artists’ archives, the documentation includes interviews with the living artists and surviving family members of others, along with rare photographs. Published by DAG Modern, the catalogue tells the stories of India’s Rockefeller artists and their art as a testimony to JDR III’s impact on the Indian art landscape.

DAG Modern has a history of over 20 years specializing in Indian modern art with locations in New Delhi, Mumbai and New York. The gallery is firmly established in the Indian art scene with its extensive program that includes historical museum quality exhibitions, a collection, publications, art fair presentations and educational outreach. 

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