A Mediated Magic: The Indian Presence in Modernism 1880–1930


Authors: Various
Edited By Naman P. Ahuja, Louise Belfrage

9789383243280 | HB | pp. 184 | 2019 | The Marg Foundation, The Axel and Margaret Ax:son Johnson Foundation for Public Benefit

This book is a carefully curated collection of articles written by several author’s describing the Indian presence in Modernism from 1880 to 1930.

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This book attempts to amend a chapter of art history that has so far been quite rigid. The idea’s that shaped Modernism, the thinkers, the artists and the writers who created it as well as the canon that was formed by it, have been rather inflexible – up until now.

Through the chapters of this volume important traces of Hindu and Buddhist thought in Western Modernism become clear: from art to music, dance, psychology, theatre and architecture. We find intriguing interplay between artistic, scientific, cultural and spiritual spheres – from both Asia and Europe – mediated by extraordinary personalities such as Anna Pavlova, Léon Bakst, Helena Blavatsky, Annie Besant, Wassily Kandinsky, Natalia Goncharova, Rabindranth Tagore, Ananada Coomaraswamy and C.G. Jung.


Editors: Naman P. Ahuja, Louise Belfrage




The Marg Foundation, The Axel and Margaret Ax:son Johnson Foundation for Public Benefit





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About the Editors

Naman P. Ahuja is a curator of Indian art, Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and Co-Editor of Marg. His studies on ancient terracottas have drawn attention to the foundations of Indian visual culture and led to publications and curatorial projects exploring the aesthetics of Indian iconography, transculturalism in antiquity, as well as the historiography of the Arts and Crafts Movement. His latest book, Art and Archaeology of Ancient India: Earliest Times to the Sixth Century (2018) presents a comprehensive catalogue of the collections of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

Louise Belfrage, International Advisor at Ax:son Johnson Foundation, Stockholm has produced numerous seminars on Hilmaaf Klint and museums of the world. Co-editor of Hilma af Klint: The Art of Seeing the Invisible (2015), Museums of the World (2016), Cultural Heritage at Risk (2016) and Hilma af Klint: Seeing is Believing (2017),she currently heads Indian Influences, a seminar series on the influence of Indian thought on Western art. Jungles where man met the spirit of the wild, yogis who harnessed the deepest powers of the mind, destitutes who had no more want than the veracity of their tradition, valorous Aryans who were also “warm and brown”, and profligate maharajas whose extravagance could outdazzle any other court of the world—the contrasts of temperament, habitat and colour, depth of spirituality and sumptuous sexuality became the standard fare of the clichés that typified India in the intellectual and artistic circles of the West at the height of colonialism. Less well known is that this was accompanied by a strong move toward a particular vocabulary of abstraction in visual form, spiritual discourse, music and theatre.


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