A Brief History Of Indian Modern Art

Today Indian art is confidently coming of age. Every form of stylistic expression in the visual arts, from naturalism to abstract expressionism, derives its power from the artist’s emotional connection to his perceptual reality.

Over the last hundred years, Indian artists have evolved a wide variety of expressive styles. Here is a brief description of that eventful journey:


Early Bengal School, Kalighat pats and the Company School have been credited with the genesis of Indian modern art.

Bengal School

Bengal School ignited India’s art scene. The body of work generated by renowned artists such as Abanindranath Tagore, Gaganendranath Tagore, Rabindranath Tagore, Jamini Roy, Ganesh Pyne, Ganesh Haloi, Ramkinkar Baij, among several others, influenced heavily the development of modern art in India.

Academic Realism

This period, dominated with some of the best portraits in Indian art, boasts of names such as MV Dhurandhar, Benjamin Hudson, MF Pithawalla and Raja Ravi Varma, giving a rare insight into the influences of movements such as Impressionism, Realism and Expressionism on Indian artists.

Progressives and Associates

With FN Souza as the group’s frontrunner, this group had leftist leanings and they embraced international modern art practices. The group included MF Husain, SH Raza, KH Ara, SK Bakre, Bal Chhabda, HA Gade, Ram Kumar, Krishen Khanna, Akbar Padamsee and Mohan Samant.

High Modernism

Reflecting innovation, abstraction – to quite an extent – intellectualism, radical theories and ideas, this era was dominated by the body of works by artists such as KK Hebbar, GR Santosh, and Gogi Saroj Pal, among others.

The Baroda School and Group 1890

Formed with the fervent desire to forge a native but contemporary language of art, this group included Ambadas, Jyoti Bhatt, Jeram Patel, J Swaminathan, GM Sheikh and Vivan Sundaram.

Cholamandal Artists’ Village

Towards the end of the fifties, many painters and sculptors in the school of Arts and Crafts joined hands in search of what amounted to a new way of life in contemporary art. It has been regarded as one of the most important art movements.


Works by artists such as Biren De, Sohan Qadri, PT Reddy and GR Santosh, highlight the neo-tantra movement. The deep awareness and consciousness appearing in many of these artists’ paintings, highlight their transcendent imagery.


Known for the works of some of the best names in Indian sculptures, the group includes Satish Gujral, Dhanraj Bhagat, Raghav Kaneria, Navjot, KS Radhakrishnan and others.

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