Most often, we understand artistic modernism to be a fundamental break from the Renaissance’s perspectival systems and attendant effects of realism. Yet, perspectival systems or even realism did not have a similar history in dispersed parts of the world. Nonetheless, artists across the world iterated, improvised, and produced their own versions of modernism. How, then, might we probe the discrepant global vectors of 20th-century modernism? How might this engagement necessitate, indeed demand, a conceptual revision of art history’s methods? This talk utilizes two vignettes from my current book project, The Promise of the Modern: Anti-illusionism, Abstraction, and Inter-cultural Modernism (India, ca. 1937–1968), to explore both the possibilities and the limits of global modernism in hope of arriving at a flexible methodology for a transcultural history of art.
Postcolonial Modernism: Possible Methodologies for a Transcultural History of Art
Atreyee Gupta (Art Histories Fellow 2014/15)
Forum Transregionale Studien, Wallotstr. 14, 14193 Berlin
The first vignette is drawn from the project’s opening sections, with the specter of the Second World War hovering on the global political horizon.The second vignette draws on the concluding years of my project, and unfolds in the backdrop of the Cold War. The first attempts to sketch the irreducibly inter-connected world that Indian artists shared with their contemporaries across the globe, while the second seeks to probe the unpredictable conceptual fissures that such interconnections often reveal. As such, both vignettes are alert to a key conceptual conundrum in the study of modern art: namely, the absence of a systematic unfolding of modernist forms in colonial and post-colonial worlds.
Atreyee Gupta received her PhD from the University of Minnesota (2011) and a BA from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Baroda. She is Art Histories and Aesthetic Practices Fellow 2014/15. Gupta has taught at the University of Minnesota, Duluth (tenure track Assistant Professor, resigned) and the University of California, Berkeley (Visiting Lecturer).