Indian Art That's in Need of Perspective

The Evening Standard (London, England), June 11, 2009 | Go to article overview

Indian Art That's in Need of Perspective


Byline: Brian Sewell

IN the precious little world of the art critic there is a general assumption that, as long as what he is despatched to see is in some sense art, he should be capable of writing a critical essay on it. For this, Roger Fry, a fine old fruit of Bloomsbury, must take the blame. He it was who, having in 1910 introduced the British public to the thrills of Post-Impressionism (a term he invented but did not understand), then went on to bully them into being fashionably interested in ancient art from Mesopotamia and the Aegean, from China, India and Egypt and with equal assumption of authority and expertise, lectured them on the art of Peru and Mexico and the much more recent art of what he called "the great majority of negro cultures". Of none of these did he know anything other than scraps of second-hand opinion garnered from supposedly scholarly magazines such as the Burlington, to which he himself was a frequent contributor of bric-a-brac, scattered all over with quaint conceits of intuition.

I am not a follower of Fry. There are vast fields of art and artefact in which I have scant interest and cannot even pretend a measure of curiosity -- and one of these is Indian art. This I can just about see through Rembrandt's eyes but not my own, and at the British Museum's current exhibition of Indian paintings from the courts of the Maharajahs of Jodhpur, much later than those that Rembrandt knew, without his help my mind was almost inert.

With desperate effort, I looked at birds and animals, at racing elephants and conjugating ducks and, confronted by the exquisite unrealities of landscape and the artists' total incomprehension of perspective, I thought of Italian painters in Florence and Siena seven centuries ago and judged their awareness of these things to have been infinitely more intellectual and enquiring. And then I thought of Europe in the 18th century, the Age of Reason and Enlightenment, the very period when these Indian painters began their business of recording the courtly pastimes of sport and sex in Jodhpur and the cosmological beliefs and notions that were their spiritual and intellectual diversions. I thought of Newton and Herschel, of Mozart and Tiepolo, and the whole edifice of this shallow Indian trivia as art -- as art that is not only metaphysical and spiritual but art that "addresses the interior world of philosophical speculation and the origin of the universe" -- came tumbling down. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Indian Art That's in Need of Perspective
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.