Bengal School of Art

  • Believed as reactionary response to the established painting trends of the 1940s and 1960s.
  • It sought to establish a distinctly Indian art that celebrated an indigenous cultural heritage rather than Western art and culture.
  • It spearheaded a nationalist and modern art movement that celebrated historical, spiritual, and artistic Indian traditions.
  • It used of muted colours and water colours.
  • Ernest Binfield Havell, a teacher at Calcutta Art School, was instrumental in movement’s formation.
  • Rejecting the academic tradition typically promoted in British art schools, E.B. Havell encouraged students’ discovery of Mughal art—art produced under the Mughal empire in Southern Asia between 1526 and 1857—a curriculum that was vehemently protested by the faculty, students, and press.
  • The school was also inspired from the Japanese paintings and attempted to develop pan-Asian art.
  • Comprising a diverse group of artists that included Abanindranath Tagore, Gaganendranath Tagore, Abdur Rahman Chugtai, and Ganesh Pyne, the Bengal School of Art also incorporated elements from Far Eastern art, such as the Japanese wash technique.
  • Based on writings of Abanindranath Tagore in early twentieth century. He attempted to infuse Swadeshi values into Indian art and to lessen the influence of Western art styles on artists.
  • Bharat Mata and other Mughal-themed paintings are among his most well-known works.
  • Nandalal Bose is another renowned painter from this school. He is best known for his iconic white-on-black Gandhi sketch from the 1930s. He was also charged with the responsibility of illuminating the Indian Constitution’s original document.
  • Rabindranath Tagore was a well-known painter from this style. His paintings are distinct as they have bold black lines that emphasise the topic. He painted on a tiny scale.
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Abanindranath Tagore

  • Abanindranath started the Bengal School of Art.
  • He was nephew of Rabindranath Tagore and helped shape modern Indian art and was the creator of iconic ‘Bharat Mata’ painting which captured the imagination of Indian nationalism.
  • He sought to modernise the Mughal and the Rajput styles to counter the influence of Western models of art under the colonial regime.
  • His unique interpretation of swadeshi themes created a new awakening and heralded a revival of Indian art.
  • In 1895 he painted the Krishna-Leela series, which display a unique blend of both European and Indian, styles.
  • He was the creator of a new national vocabulary in art and helped to regenerate the decadent art and aesthetic scene in India.
  • His books on art include Banglar Brata, Bharatshilpe Murti, Bharatshilpa and Bharatshilper Sadanga – all bearing the imprint of his great depth, profundity and simplicity.
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