International Art Exhibitions of the 1980s: The Festivals of India

  • Wintle, C. (Organiser)
  • Rebecca Brown (Organiser)
  • Brij Tankha (Participant)
  • Venugopal Maddipati (Participant)
  • Darielle Mason (Participant)
  • Stephen Huyler (Participant)

Activity: EventsConference


Panel at the College Art Association Conference, 2018

The 1980s were a watershed decade for experimentations within and challenges to art exhibition practice, from MoMA’s Primitivism show and the inaugural Bienal de la Habana in 1984 to the Magiciens de la terre exhibition in 1989 and the Whitney Biennial of 1991. Interwoven with these events, another exhibitionary narrative traverses the 1980s — that of the Festivals of India. Beginning in 1982 and continuing until the end of the decade, Indian diplomats and curators worked together with counterparts in the UK, the US, France, the USSR and Japan to coordinate a series of multi-sited art and cultural exhibitions that presented “India” to each of the countries concerned. Focusing on pre-modern sculpture and painting, the art of the courts, contemporary art, vernacular visual culture, and architecture, these exhibitions had lasting impact on Indian art history, influencing contemporary understandings of the canon, and forging transnational connections among individuals and institutions that continue today. Given the context of the Cold War and the rising voices of Indian diaspora communities in these countries, each festival had its own flavor and was a multilayered occasion. This panel brought together, for the first time, museum practitioners involved directly with Festival exhibitions with scholars working on these histories to consider the full geographical range of the Festivals. The “India” that emerges is revealed as contested, shifting, and plural, relating as much to the host nation’s approach to India as it does to the Indian artworks, artists, curators, and diplomats instrumental in making these events happen.
Period22 Feb 2018
Event typeConference
LocationLos Angeles, United States, CaliforniaShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational