Modernism and its Discontents

Workshop with Partha Mitter

organized by the Max Planck Research Group "Objects in the Contact Zone - The Cross-Cultural Lives of Things"

In my workshop I will focus on the dominance of the western modernism canon and its impact on the centre/periphery relationship. Today globalization is the message, as more and more artists from non-western regions are embraced by the western art institutions, such as auction houses, art fairs, art galleries and museums. Art historians fear the collapse of Art History as a discipline as Contemporary Art has supposedly introduced a culturally heterogeneous mix of art practices that deny history and universal aesthetic standards. I will however suggest that all is well with Art History because the western discourse of modernism continues to dominate; it continues to underscore the linear view of art history that excludes other aesthetic traditions. My introduction to the workshop will propose ways of 'decentring' modernism that allows for plurality and a more inclusive relationship between centre and periphery.

Partha Mitter: Hon. D.Lit. (Courtauld Institute, London University); Emeritus Professor Art History, University of Sussex, Member, Wolfson College, Oxford, Honorary Research Fellow, Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Previous honours and positions include Fellow of Clare Hall, Cambridge; Radhakrishnan Lecturer, All Souls College, Oxford; Mellon Fellow, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton; Member, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, California; Fellow, Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts; Senior Fellow, CASVA, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. Publications include Much Maligned Monsters: History of European Reactions to Indian Art (1977); Art and Nationalism in Colonial India 1850-1922 (1994); Indian Art (2002); The Triumph of Modernism: India's Artists and the Avant-Garde - 1922-1947 (2007).

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Sria Chatterjee  

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