The Progressive Revolution: Modern Art for a New India

by Boon Hui Tan



Formed just months after the 1947 Partition of India and during tremendous violence and protest, the Progressive Artists Group (PAG) included artists seeking a break with their country’s past and its cultural constraints. For nearly a decade these painters and sculptors explored ideas about art for a new nation. Through lush illustrations and scholarly essays, this volume looks at the brand of modernism the group espoused and its relevance and importance to contemporary art. The careers of artists K.H. Ara, S.K. Bakre, H.A. Gade, V.S. Gaitonde, M.F. Husain, Krishen Khanna, Ram Kumar, Tyeb Mehta, Akbar Padamsee, S.H. Raza, Mohan Samant, and F.N. Souza are presented in three sections. “The Realists” explores how artists turned away from the trauma of Mumbai and toward folk and rural culture. “India International” demonstrates how the Progressives mined contemporary artists such as Mark Rothko, Paul Klee, and Pablo Picasso to create their own distinct genre. “Masters of the Game” brings together works created after the PAG’s dissolution and shows how these pieces collectively gave visual form to the idea of India as secular, heterogeneous, international, and united. A valuable examination of the ways artistic expression can preserve and advance its cultural heritage, this volume captures an exciting time in India’s art history. Boon Hui Tan, Zehra Jumabhoy (Asia Society/Prestel, Sept 2018, HC, 192 pp)

The exhibition The Progressive Revolution opens on Sept 14 2018 at Asia Society, New York


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About the Author


Boon Hui Tan

Boon Hui Tan is Vice President for Global Arts and Cultural Programs, and Director, Asia Society Museum, NY, where he leads the organisation’s global arts and cultural activities spanning visual arts, performing arts and film.  As museum director, he oversees Asia Society Museums acclaimed exhibition programs and collections, including the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection of Traditional Asian Art and the Contemporary Art Collection of photography and new media works by Asian and Asian American artists.

In 2015, he was Artistic Director for Singapour en France, le Festival, the largetst multidisciplinary presentation of contemporary culture from Singapore and Southeast Asia in France. Tan is founding board member of the International Biennial Association.  From 2009 to 2013, he was Director of the Singapore Art Museum.

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