National Gallery of Modern Art

New Delhi, India

National Gallery of Modern Art

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The National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) is the premier art gallery under Ministry of Culture, Government of India. The main museum at Jaipur House in New Delhi was established on 29 March 1954 by the Government of India, with subsequent branches at Mumbai and Bangalore. Its collection of more than 1700 works by 2000 plus artists includes artists such as Thomas Daniell, Raja Ravi Verma, Abanindranath Tagore, Rabindranath Tagore, Gaganendranath Tagore, Nandalal Bose, Jamini Roy, Amrita Sher-Gil as well as foreign artists. Some of the oldest works preserved here date back to 1857. With 12,000 square meters of exhibition space, the Delhi branch is one of the world's largest modern art museums.

The first proposal for a National Art Gallery was made by a Delhi-based artists’ organisation, the AIFACS, in 1938. This institution, initially registered as Delhi Fine Arts Society in 1929, was founded by artist–brothers Barada and Sarada Ukil who were students of Abanindranath Tagore. In 1946, the Society organised the First International Contemporary Art Exhibition that included paintings of modern French and English artists, as well as etchings from American artists. The exhibition coincided with the first All India conference, where a resolution appointing AIFACS as a central art body was passed. In subsequent years, however, AIFACS’ claims were diluted by the factions that arose among the artists, with the newly set up All India Association of Fine Arts, Bombay, putting forth its own agency as a central organisation at the Third All India Art conference in 1948.In 1949 Art Conference at Calcutta The government invited a consortium of artists and critics for this conference on visual arts — Stella Kramrisch, G. Venkatachalam, Nandalal Bose, Jamini Roy, O. C. Ganguly, Atul Bose, James H. Cousins and Percy Brown, among others — and asked for their suggestions on art institutions like the National Museum and the National Gallery of Art, and the educative role of art for the general public. On the issue of the Gallery, the participants at the seminar reacted in different ways. Some such as historian Dr Nihar Ranjan Ray encouraged the government to step in and set up the representative advisory body, while others like artist and founder member of the group in Delhi, Silpi Chakra, B. C. Sanyal, argued that it was wrong for the government to take the initiative away from the artists’ hands. It passed a resolution for the early establishment of the National Art Gallery and the improvement of the National Museum, as well as the formation of the three Akademis as part of a Sub Commission for Culture of the Indian National Commission for Cooperation with UNESCO.




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