This volume presents a collection of display prints that were omnipresent during India’s struggle for independence, and have fundamentally revolutionized our understanding of popular pictures. Serving as a visual tour d’horizonto various facets of the Indian freedom movement, it gives readers the freedom to interpret this tumultuous historical event of the twentieth century and explore, on the 60th anniversary of India’s freedom struggle, new facets of the movement that may have gone unnoticed until now.
This possibility is also accompanied by radical attempts to shift our attention: Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai do matter to the new visual studies, but so do such small towns like Sivakasi, Nathdwara, Meerut—locations for popular pictorial productions in colonial and post-colonial India. Well-known colonial art schools are eclipsed by the likes of the Calcutta Art Studio, Chitrashala Press, and S.S. Brijbasi & Sons. Elite artists like Ravi Varma or Abanindranath Tagore now share space with street-smart subalterns like Kondiah Raju, Rupkishor Kapur, and Yogendra Rastogi whose pictures are reprinted in this volume.
Once ignored and dismissed for their vulgarity, repetitiveness, and lack of originality, these ‘god posters’, ‘framing pictures’, and ‘calendar art’ have been rescued from obscurity to occupy centrestage in new narratives where they now condition our understanding of everything from post-coloniality to the creation of India’s first nationalist political regime.
Vibrant, thought-provoking, and profusely illustrated, the volume will be a useful resource for social scientists and scholars of History and politics, and more importantly a collector's delight.
Erwin Neumayer Archaeologist and ethnologist. He is working on the prehistoric art of South Asia on which he has written several books.
Christine Schelberger Artist, who teaches art and art history in Vienna.