Author: Tapati Guha -Thakurta
Publisher: Seagull Books
ISBN/UPC (if available): 817046207X
This elegant book printed on art paper is an introduction to the pictorial and photographic material in the documentation archive of the Center for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, which is an archive of sources of the cultural history of modern Bengal.
The Hitesranjan Sanyal Memorial Collection at the Center for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, is an archive of sources of the cultural history of modern Bengal. It consists of microfilmed printed texts as well as documentation of pictorial and photographic material.
The archive is based on the premise that visual and textual representations are equally meaningful indices of social and cultural change. Just as the new t5echnology of print assumed a life of its own in 19th century Bengal and profoundly affected its emerging forms of modernity, s9o did the new techniques of visual representation and reproduction. They produced the we3ll-known 'high culture' of the new bhadralok society - a culture of refinement and progress. But equally, important were their effects on popular tastes and expression. The archive brings together the works of some renowned artists and photographers of modern Bengal alongside an entire range or little-noticed popular and commercial genres produced by bazaar painters, print-makers, illustrators and studios. This book presents a selection of some of this visual documentation.
In her introduction, the art historian Tapati Guha-Thakurta , the curator of the show2, takes us through the history of t5he various genres of art and photography in Bengal from around the middle of the 19th centur4y to the second half of the 20th. She explains, in particular, the mix of canonical schools and styles and a variety of lesser-known popular images, often produced by anonymous artists or studios, that belong equally to the visual worlds of Bengal's modernity.