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The Bauhaus in Bengal: Reconstructing an Historical Exhibition

By Prof. Saloni Mathur, Department of Art History, UCLA

Wednesday, March 12, 2014
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
UCLA 10383 Bunche Hall

Abstract: The exhibition of Bauhaus and Indian artists that occurred in December 1922 in Calcutta was a fascinating moment in the history of modernism. The show was curated by the young Austrian, Stella Kramrisch, a scholar of ancient Indian art and mythology, one year after her arrival in India. It famously displayed works by Bauhaus artists working in Germany such as Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, and Lyonel Feininger alongside modern artists from India such as Abanindranath Tagore, Nandalal Bose, and Gagenendranath Tagore.  Last summer, a team of German and Indian curators reconstructed this historical show for a contemporary exhibition held at the Bauhaus in Dessau, Germany (March to July, 2013).  My paper will offer an account of both the 1922 exhibition, for which there remains no visual documentation to this day, as well as the contemporary effort to reconstruct the show with original works of art from the era.  The ambition and scope of the latter project, in particular, raises a number of larger questions related to exhibitions, the archive, and the operations of historical reconstruction and display.


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