Exhibition | Divine Pleasures: Painting from India’s Rajput Courts

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on June 24, 2016

Press release (14 June 2016) from The Met:

Divine Pleasures: Painting from India’s Rajput Courts—The Kronos Collections
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fifth Avenue, New York, 14 June — 12 September 2016

Curated by Navina Haidar and Courtney Stewart

Detail of The Village Beauty. Probably painted by the artist Fattu (active ca. 1770–1820). Illustrated folio from the dispersed 'Kangra Bihari' Sat Sai (Seven Hundred Verses). Punjab Hills, kingdom of Kangra, ca. 1785. Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper; narrow yellow and white borders with black inner rules; dark blue spandrels decorated with gold arabesque; painting 18.7 x 13.2 cm, page 20.6 x 14.9 cm. Promised Gift of the Kronos Collections, 2015 (SK.082).

Detail of The Village Beauty. Probably painted by the artist Fattu (active ca. 1770–1820). Illustrated folio from the dispersed ‘Kangra Bihari’ Sat Sai (Seven Hundred Verses). Punjab Hills, kingdom of Kangra, ca. 1785. Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper; narrow yellow and white borders with black inner rules; dark blue spandrels decorated with gold arabesque; painting 18.7 x 13.2 cm, page 20.6 x 14.9 cm. Promised Gift of the Kronos Collections, 2015 (SK.082).

Compelling episodes from the epic and poetic literature of the Indian subcontinent dominate the nearly 100 masterful paintings—most a 2015 promised gift by Steven M. Kossak from his family’s Kronos Collections—on display at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Created mainly between the 16th and the early 19th century for the royal courts of Rajasthan and the Punjab Hills in northern India, the works on view in the exhibition Divine Pleasures: Painting from India’s Rajput Courts—The Kronos Collections are meant to move the soul and delight the eye. Suffused with the powerful imagery of the myths of the past, Indian painting expressed a new way of seeking the divine through bhakti, or personal devotion. The collection was assembled over nearly four decades by Mr. Kossak, formerly a curator in The Met’s Department of Asian Art.

“We are delighted to present this exhibition of Steve Kossak’s generous promised gift,” said Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Met. “These distinguished paintings constitute one of the premier collections of this material in private hands, and their eventual addition to The Met collection will transform the Museum’s holdings of Rajput painting. It is a significant addition to Steve’s legacy at The Met after serving for two decades as a curator.”

The exhibition is organized into three major sections: Early Rajput and Rajasthan, early Pahari (Punjab Hills), and later Pahari. Within each room, the paintings will be shown in relation to the literary traditions of Indian Hinduism. Rajput court painting was mainly intended for royal delectation, to amplify through the artistic fantasy manifest in the pictures, well-known religious, quasi-religious, and secular texts and subjects. The power and magic of the images transcends the subjects they portray.

Under the patronage of their Rajput rulers, many of the principalities of north India developed and nurtured a distinctive painting style. This galaxy of stylistic expression is amply demonstrated in the exhibition through compelling examples of the Early Rajput Style; the later schools of Bikaner, Bundi, Kishangarh, Kota, and Mewar; as well as many of the small courts of the Punjab Hills: Bahu, Bahsoli, Bislalpur, Chamba, Guler, Kangra, Mandi, Mankot, and Nurpur.

Painted on paper in opaque watercolor and ink, they are often heightened with gold and silver. Whites are often raised to simulate pearls and reflective beetle-wing casings stand in for emeralds. Many of the paintings have never before been exhibited publicly.

Concurrent with the exhibition is a small, thematically related display, Poetry and Devotion in Indian Painting: Two Decades of Collecting (June 15–December 4, 2016) in the Florence and Herbert Irving Galleries for the Arts of South and Southeast Asia, Indian Painting Gallery, Gallery #251. Recognizing the contributions of Mr. Kossak to the Department of Asian Art, where he was a curator from 1986 to 2006, it features 22 of the dozens of Rajput and Pahari paintings that were acquired during his tenure, including a large intricately painted and printed cloth pichwai (temple hanging).

The exhibition was organized by Navina Haidar, Curator, and Courtney Stewart, Senior Research Assistant, of The Met’s Department of Islamic Art. Exhibition design is by Daniel Kershaw, Exhibition Design Manager; graphics are by Constance Norkin, Graphic Design Manager; and lighting is by Clint Ross Coller and Richard Lichte, Lighting Design Managers, all of the Museum’s Design Department.

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The catalogue is distributed by Yale UP:

Terence McInerney, with essays by Steven Kossak and Navina Najat Haidar, Divine Pleasures: Painting from India’s Rajput Courts—The Kronos Collections (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2016), 272 pages, ISBN: 978-1588395900, $50.

81oKyhf6HbLThis splendidly illustrated publication features over 90 important paintings from the predominantly Hindu Rajput tradition of Indian painting, and are highlights from the Kronos Collection, one of the finest holdings of Indian art. These remarkable works—most of them published and illustrated here for the first time—were painted between the 16th and 18th centuries for the Indian royal courts in Rajastan and the Punjab Hills. Many of the paintings are characterized by their brilliant colors and vivid depictions of scenes from Hindu epics, mystical legends, and courtly life. Along with an informative entry for every work and a personal essay by expert and collector Steven M. Kossak, the book contains an extensive essay by Terence McInerney that outlines the history of Indian painting, with a special emphasis on the Rajput courts, and provides an overview of the subject with fresh insights and interpretations.

Terence McInerney is an independent scholar, dealer, and author of numerous articles on Indian painting. Steven M. Kossak is a former curator in the Department of Asian Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and a distinguished collector.





Call for Papers | Objects and Possessions

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on June 24, 2016

From the conference website:

Objects and Possessions: Material Goods in a Changing World, 1200–1800
Southampton, 3–6 April 2017

Proposals due by 12 September 2016

This interdisciplinary conference looks at material culture across a long timeframe in order to explore the worlds of goods and objects across Europe and its overseas colonies, the connections and relationships facilitated by the exchange of goods, the importance and interpretation of the inheritance of goods and objects, and the ways in which goods brokered relationships between Europe and the wider world in the period.

The aim is to deepen our understanding of how goods ‘worked’ in a variety of social, economic and cultural contexts. We know a great deal about real property and the possession of land, but comparatively little about goods and chattels and their connections, and how these developed across a long timeframe. Over the period 1200‒1800 there were great changes in the type, range and availability of goods, from the finest items of the elite, the work of craftsmen on an individual basis, to the manufacture and widespread availability of cheap and utilitarian goods and equipment.

Customs of ‘possession’ need to be exposed, to show what ownership might mean, what property might be held by women or children, and what might be considered inalienable within families. The conference will look to identify the cultural connections—and how goods and attitudes to them change culture. It will also consider how goods were transferred, exchanged and collected, as well as the ways in which objects could be used to mediate connections and broker relationships between different people and places.

Proposals are invited for single papers and for whole sessions (three papers). Papers should not exceed 30 minutes. Themes might include:
• The ownership of goods; the law and objects
• Patterns of inheritance for different categories
• The connections of different groups in society to goods, for example, domestic equipment, jewellery, textiles
• The introduction of new goods, fashions and colours
• The increasing quantities and diversity of goods
• Furnishings for household interiors
• Consumer revolutions (e.g. sugar, colour, fur)
• Vocabularies for describing goods
• Trades and markets for goods
• Processes of collecting and accumulation
• The politics of possession and display

Please send short abstracts (no more than 200 words per paper) by 12 September 2016 to Chris Woolgar (C.M.Woolgar@southampton.ac.uk).

Call for Essays | Adapting the Eighteenth Century

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on June 24, 2016

Adapting the Eighteenth Century: Pedagogies and Practices
Edited by Sharon Harrow (Professor of English, Shippensburg University) and Kirsten Saxton (Professor of English, Mills College)

Proposals due by 15 August 2016; final essays due by 15 January 2017

The eighteenth century has quite a bit of popular currency these days; we see adaptations of eighteenth-century literature and culture on tumblr, fan fiction, web series, scent lines, cult mashups, Facebook accounts, you-tube videos, fashion, graphic novels, literary fiction, theater stagings, greeting cards, and in mainstream films. Adaptation is currently a lively intellectual topic, generating both theoretical and applied research. Theories of adaptation—including Linda Hutcheon’s A Theory of Adaptation, Julie Sanders’s Adaptation and Appropriation, and Dan Hassler-Forest’s and Pascal Nicklas’s The Politics of Adaptation: Media Convergence and Ideology—undergird recent inquiries into adaptation, including interpretations of contemporary adaptations of eighteenth-century texts, such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Longbourn, The Scandal of the Season, Foe, The Cattle Killing, Inkle and Yariko, Mother Clap’s Molly House, and Zong! In addition, new work argues for the adaptive nature of the century itself; Citizens of the World: Adapting in the Eighteenth Century, edited by Samara Anne Cahill and Kevin Cope, explores adaptations—transnational and transactional—within the century.

Our collection will build on this rich scholarly foundation to focus on adaptation and pedagogy. Adaptations of material or ideas from the long eighteenth century are often seen as middlebrow simplifications, capitalist exploitations, or, in teaching, simply as gateway texts. Rather than viewing adaptations as the spoonful of sugar, we invite essays to combine current adaptations of eighteenth-century texts or concepts with texts from the eighteenth-century in ways that provocatively and thoughtfully open up and out our own reading and teaching.

Essays might focus on the literary (novels, plays, poems), or on philosophical or scientific treatises, paintings, historical records, or musical notations. We are interested in both direct adaptations as well as in appropriations, re-mixes, or traces. We are particularly interested in essays that move beyond description of a film adaptation of a book to address new forms of media convergence and participatory culture in which reading, watching, and listening are key elements in the process of adaptation.

Adapting the Eighteenth Century: Pedagogies and Practices hopes to be broadly representative in the philosophies, methodologies, and critical orientations presented; and in the types of schools, students, and courses considered. We want the book to be relevant for non-specialists as well as specialists, for graduate student teachers as well as senior professors. We welcome essays across a range of disciplines, geographies, and levels of focus. Since this volume is dedicated to teaching,  abstracts and essays should center on pedagogical issues. Whatever its topic—practical teaching or more theoretical or topical—essays should explicitly address how they will apply to the needs of teachers in preparing and teaching classes and the needs of students in learning.

Please send a 500 word proposal/abstract and a CV to ktsaxton@mills.edu and srharr@ship.edu by August 15, 2016. We will respond with decisions by September 15, 2016. Completed essays of no more than 25 pages will be due by January 15, 2017.

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