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MIDNIGHT TO THE BOOM: PAINTING IN INDIA AFTER INDEPENDENCE,

FROM THE PEABODY ESSEX MUSEUM'S HERWITZ COLLECTION

ON VIEW FEBRUARY 2 THROUGH APRIL 21, 2013

SALEM, MA -- From the moment India achieved independence from British rule on August 15, 1947, through the global economic boom of the 1990s, a revolutionary art movement emerged.  The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) presents Midnight to the Boom: Painting in India after Independence, From the Peabody Essex Museum's Herwitz Collection, an exhibition spanning three generations of Indian painters who changed the way we think of Indian art. Nearly 70 works by 23 leading artists were selected from PEM's Chester & Davida Herwitz Collection -- internationally recognized as one of the largest and most important assemblages of modern Indian art outside of India. They are presented alongside conversational groupings of key works by well-known artists from around the world including Paul Cézanne, Marc Chagall, and Andrew Wyeth, lending context to the development of this movement in the wider world of modern painting.  Midnight to the Boom will be on view at PEM from February 2 through April 21, 2013.

During this time of enormous political and cultural upheaval, artists working in post-independence India were able to express their individual artistic visions, transcending the limits of the region's traditional art forms. From the 1940s to the 1990s, they responded to art from around the world and across time, developing original themes, techniques, and means of expression. The movement's proponents -- among the most influential, M.F. Husain, Tyeb Mehta, and Nasreen Mohamedi -- faced a particular challenge: how to convey their individual concerns and remain true to their roots, while entering into a wider discourse based on modernism's universal principles of experimentation.

"This exhibition reflects the reality of an interconnected global art world, and the way non-Western artists have participated in art movements at home, and as part of the overall unfolding of the world's art history, " said Susan Bean, Guest Curator. "With Midnight to the Boom we offer a new framework for appreciating and interpreting modern Indian art." 

CONVERSATIONS

In carefully selected juxtapositions throughout the exhibition, paintings by Indian artists are presented with works by international and local artists who resonated with their aesthetic preferences or techniques.  Artists' statements indicate just how such works of their contemporaries and others were used as creative resources. These comparisons expand our understanding of modernism as a global phenomenon and reflect its boundless spirit of exchange.

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In the 1980s, Bikash Bhattacharjee rejected traditional themes in pursuit of emotionally charged and visually direct depictions of contemporary life, such as street scenes of Calcutta. After graduating from art school, Bhattacharjee encountered American artist Andrew Wyeth's paintings for the first time, recalling the way "...the differences of country, period and characters melted away." Bhattacharjee became an avid collector of books on Wyeth, and he continued to explore Wyeth's brush techniques and thematic preferences. Bhattacharjee shared Wyeth's dramatic handling of light and shadow, creating scenes sympathetic in their compositional techniques and tonal gradations. In Midnight to the Boom, Andrew Wyeth's 1937 Charlie Ervine is considered alongside Bikash Bhattacharjee's 1986 The Lady with the Gas Cylinder. 

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M.F. Husain, perhaps the most famous of India's modern artists, found a source of artistic inspiration by looking eastward. While travelling in Beijing in 1951, Husain met the renowned artist Xu Beihong, and viewed his famous horse paintings for the first time. Struck by their exquisite grace and vitality, Husain returned to his studies of horses -- one of his favorite subjects --with a renewed vigor, drawing inspiration from Xu's treatment of the subject and pushing his work in a new direction. 

THE HERWITZ COLLECTION

The Chester and Davida Herwitz Collection of modern Indian art comprises 1,200 works by more than 70 of India's leading artists of the second half of the 20th century, including M. F. Husain, S. H. Raza, Manjit Bawa, Tyeb Mehta, Ganesh Pyne, K. Laxma Goud, Jogen Chowdhury, Nalini Malani, Nasreen Mohamedi, Bhupen Khakhar, Gieve Patel, Sudhir Patwardhan, Gulammohammed Sheikh, and Arpita Singh. This groundbreaking collection also includes a major international art library and an archive of letters, papers, and other documents. In 2003, the Peabody Essex Museum opened the Chester and Davida Herwitz Gallery of Contemporary Indian Art, the first gallery dedicated to India's modern and contemporary art by an American museum and featuring changing installations from the collection.

PRESS PREVIEW EVENT

TUESDAY, JANUARY 29, 2012

9:30 AM BREAKFAST | 10 AM REMARKS | 10:30 AM TOUR

Please join us for a breakfast and exhibition preview tour with curator Susan Bean. RSVP to Whitney Van Dyke by Tuesday, January 22 by emailing whitney_vandyke@pem.org or calling 978-745-9500 x3228.

PUBLICITY IMAGES

Captioned, high-resolution publicity images are available upon request.

EXHIBITION CATALOG

Midnight to the Boom: Painting in India After Independence, Thames & Hudson © 2013, Hardcover Softcover 228 pages, 142 illustrations, with text by Susan Bean, Homi K. Bhabha, Rebecca M. Brown, Beth Citron, Ajay Sinha, and Karin Zitzewitz. Available at the PEM Shop, in person or online at: http://www.pemshop.com.

IMAGE CREDITS (TOP TO BOTTOM):

  • Tyeb Mehta, (1925-2009), Sequence, 1981, Oil on canvas, 69 x 102 1/2 inches (175.3 x 260.4 cm), The Chester & Davida Herwitz Collection, Peabody Essex Museum.
  • Andrew Wyeth, (1917-2009), Charlie Ervine, 1937, Tempera on panel, 31 ¾ x 39 ¾ inches (80.6 x 101 cm), Private Collection, © Andrew Wyeth.
  • Bikash Bhattacharjee, (1940-2006), The Lady with the Gas Cylinder, 1986, Oil on canvas, 42 x 40 inches (106.7 x 101.6 cm), The Chester & Davida Herwitz Collection, Peabody Essex Museum.
  • Xu Beihong, Horse, 1943, Hanging Scroll, Ink on paper, 41 ¼ x 20 1/2 inches (104.8 x 52.1 cm), Collection of Michael Gallis.
  • M.F. Husain, Lightning Horses, ca. 1979, Oil on canvas, 43 x 100 inches, Collection of Sri and Harsha Reddy.

EXHIBITION CREDITS

Support provided by the Chester and Davida Herwitz Charitable Trust, the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, Marguerite and Kent Srikanth Charugundla, Dr. Mahesh and Smita Patel, Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi, and the East India Marine Associates of the Peabody Essex Museum.  

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ABOUT THE PEABODY ESSEX MUSEUM

The Peabody Essex Museum presents art and culture from New England and around the world. The museum's collections are among the finest of their kind, showcasing an unrivaled spectrum of American art and architecture (including four National Historic Landmark buildings) and outstanding Asian, Asian Export, Native American, African, Oceanic, Maritime and Photography collections. In addition to its vast collections, the museum offers a vibrant schedule of changing exhibitions and a hands‐on education center. The museum campus features numerous parks, period gardens and 22 historic properties, including Yin Yu Tang, a 200‐year‐old house that is the only example of Chinese domestic architecture on display in the United States.  

HOURS: Open Tuesday‐Sunday and holiday Mondays, 10 am‐5 pm. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.

ADMISSION: Adults $15; seniors $13; students $11. Additional admission to Yin Yu Tang: $5. Members, youth 16 and under and residents of Salem enjoy free general admission and free admission to Yin Yu Tang.

INFO: Call 866‐745‐1876 or visit our Web site at www.pem.org

PR Contacts:

April Swieconek  -  Director of Public Relations  -  978-745-9500 X3109  -  april@pem.org

Whitney Van Dyke  -  Public Relations Manager  -  978-745-9500 X3228  -  whitney_vandyke@pem.org

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