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Rabindranath Tagore's Pirate Surrealism and the 1930 Paris Exhibition

Monday, November 14, 2022 at 12:15pm

Uris Hall, G08
Central Campus

Talk by Rakhee Balaram

Can Rabindranath Tagore be considered a "surrealist"? This paper questions the historiography concerning Tagore's art while simultaneously examining the cultural climate surrounding his 1930 exhibition in Paris. A contemporary re-evaluation of Rabindranath Tagore's work in this context opens up new questions about the historical avant-garde and its limits. In light of academic discussions about global modernism and following a landmark exhibition on international surrealism, a reconsideration of Tagore's art reveals it to be one marker in a larger relay of aesthetic practices happening within and outside of the West in the 1920s and 30s. The paper looks to South America and Japan to think about the genesis of Tagore's drawings and paintings which were exhibited in Paris in the wake of the celebrated African and Oceanic exhibition in 1930. Drawing on scientific, economic, and legal discourses, cross-cultural analysis, and popular culture, Tagore's erasures, drawings, and paintings offer revolutionary perspectives on current debates in the field.  

Rakhee Balaram is an Assistant Professor of Global Art and Art History at the University at Albany, the State University of New York, where she specializes in modern and contemporary art. Her recent books include a co-edited volume on South Asian art history, 20th Century Indian Art: Modern, Post-Independence, Contemporary (Thames & Hudson, 2022), and a book on French artistic practices after May '68: Counterpractice: Psychoanalysis, Politics and the Art of French Feminism (Manchester University Press, 2022). Balaram previously taught at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She is currently completing a book on two icons of modern Indian art — Amrita Sher-Gil and Rabindranath Tagore.

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Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Asian Studies, South Asia Program, History of Art and Visual Studies


aaspcal, asianstudiescal, cascal, cashum, arthistory



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