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  • Discover modern and contemporary Indian art through the MAP Academy’s latest online course

    Published on November 3, 2023

    Gulammohammed Sheikh,
    Returning Home after a Long
    Absence, 1969–73, Oil on
    canvas, 122 x 122 cm,
    Courtesy of the artist and
    Vadehra Art Gallery, New

     As part of a broader vision to improve the way histories of Indian art are introduced and accessed, the MAP Academy is pleased to announce the launch of its short course, Modern and Contemporary Indian Art. Typically, this subject is only available to those enrolled in select academic programmes or already a part of the ecosystem of art. This is the first time it is being taught online, and the course is entirely free-for-all and self-paced, representing a new era of tech-enabled cultural education, removing major barriers and meeting the demands of a more visually engaged and curious public.

    Jyoti Bhatt, Group of Fine Arts Students, 1974, DC.00220, Museum of Art & Photography, Bengaluru.

    Authored by art historian Dr Beth Citron, and edited and produced by the MAP Academy, the course comprises engaging videos, illustrated texts and interactive quizzes, providing learners with a Certificate of  Completion. Over a short span of 4.5 hours, it covers major developments in art from the late-19th and early-20th century to the present day, examining questions of nationhood, modernity, self-expression, identities and globalisation. Studying art forms, especially from recent decades, enables learners to dive into a range of creative practices and bodies of work. It also provides a sensitive entry point through which one can reflect upon histories as well as present-day issues.

    The MAP Academy launched last year with an Encyclopedia of Art, and its first short course, Textiles from the Indian Subcontinent, and has since built a worldwide community of thousands of learners, online. Its courses form part of an extensive curriculum, with introductory modules on photography, narrative painting, architecture, archaeology and sculpture that are scheduled to go live in the coming years. These are all geared towards making South Asian art histories accessible to wider audiences and cultivating an unparalleled online learning environment.

    “Typically, the majority of courses on modern and contemporary art across the world cover Euro-American narratives that exclude developments in the Global South. Whilst select museums and educational institutions in major urban areas, or in certain programmes overseas, address the subject from an Indian perspective, this course has the unique potential to reach wider audiences for greater impact. Written in jargon-free language, it covers seminal topics and artworks, while also drawing attention to how canonical narratives have frequently been biassed on the basis of gender, caste and socio-economic status.”

    – Pooja Savansukha, Managing Director, MAP Academy

    Introducing a range of artists such as Abanindranath Tagore, Amrita Sher-Gil, Zarina Hashmi, Sudhir Patwardhan, Bhupen Khakhar, Navjot Altaf and Shilpa Gupta to name a few, the course takes learners through a trajectory of key figures, artworks and moments. From the colonial period to the moment of independence, the Partition, economic liberalisation and more, it delves into historical events, pressing contemporary concerns, and advances and shifts in art-making. It is designed to serve as a valuable starting point for curious learners, serious students, practitioners or anyone interested in building or furthering a career in the arts and culture.

    “Too often modern and contemporary Indian art is considered intimidating or inaccessible, and it can be challenging to know where to start. The course is designed to ensure that it is not only introductory to all but also empowering. It will equip learners with a sense of chronology, a strong visual vocabulary, the ability to discuss works by a range of seminal artists and engage in critical conversations. While no course can cover everything, my hope is that this short course will encourage learners to engage more deeply with this dynamic subject and inspire a lifelong interest in art.”

    – Dr Beth Citron, Course Author

    Learners who complete the course also gain exclusive access to specialised MAP Academy Live programming that includes community meet-ups, expert-led lectures and workshops. Through these, learners can maintain a sustained interest in the subject, and delve deeper into some of the critical themes and ideas that the course introduces.

    “Modern and contemporary art can open up a unique window into building and cultivating an intellectually curious mind, and engaging with this history helps us develop a more nuanced outlook towards the present, particularly in the polarising times we are living in. While countries across South Asia share deep histories and cultures, they have each developed unique modernist idioms and expressions. In light of this, we’ve made the conscious choice to make this particular course India-focused, so that we can cover the subject across countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal in equal depth, as our programme expands.”

    – Nathaniel Gaskell, Executive Director, MAP Academy

    Notably, this course involved a partnership with Terrain.Art. The MAP Academy is also engaging with academics, scholars and advisors including Dr Annapurna Garimella, Dr Diva Gujral and Mayank Mansingh Kaul, among others, to develop its programme. Through such collaborations, the organisation offers diverse approaches and perspectives on a range of subjects, in its effort to serve as a leading educational platform on South Asian art histories.


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