In the Mood for Art and On the Margins of History in India’s Eighteenth Century

Lecture by Dipti Khera, Assistant Professor of Art History, New York University
Presented by the Department of Art History and COSAS, as part of the 2019/20 Smart Lecture series supported by the Smart Family Foundation.

The art of sensing moods mattered in precolonial South Asia. The eighteenth-century painters of Udaipur, a city of lakes in northwestern India, suggest that the moods of pleasure and prosperity mattered even more. The moods of grand-scale paintings, larger in size than manuscripts and portraits, which could be held in a single hand, emerged in the enchanting depictions of lime-washed palaces, reservoirs, temples, bazaars, and durbars. The painterly unfolding of stormy monsoons and scented springs, populated by the collectives of urbane men and women, enticed audiences to forge bonds of belonging to real locales in the present and of longing for ideal futures. These pioneering pictures sought to stir such emotions as love, awe, abundance, and wonder, emphasizing the senses, spaces, seasons, and sociability essential to the efficacy of objects and expressions of territoriality. In iterating exuberant and ephemeral atmospheres, painters viewed the moods of places as open to adaptation, admiration, and assimilation. Their memorialized moods confront the ways colonial histories have recounted Oriental decadence, shaping how a culture, art, and time are perceived.

Dates: 
Thursday, March 5, 2020 - 5:00pm
CWAC 157