Critical Perspectives of/on Modern Art

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSCC2VA2014

Semester and Year Offered: Monsoon Semesters of 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019.

Course Coordinator and Team: : Shivaji K Panikkar

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: None, open for all MA programmes


  • To explore the critical aspects of modern art practices.
  • To enable understanding the critical frameworks of the diversified and non-conventional art practices that are responsive to issues; based on political, community, society and participation oriented practices.
  • To implant the seeds of critical thinking which problematizes the current modes of artistic production and its (elite) moorings.


Course Outcomes:

  • Taking exemplary instances from Euro-American and Indian contexts, the course focus on the critical perspectives inherent in the practice of modern art; its radical breakaway points from the status quo positions and in its shift-over evolutions in the past two centuries and in the present times.
  • The course pushes the boundaries of what is accepted as the norm, or the status quo.
  • On one hand the course develop insights into the criticality of modern art itself, while on the other hand the course undertakes to understand the instances of critical positions of art critics.


Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

First Module: Introduction: A series illustrated introductory lectures to make various critical parameters to understand Modern Art developments, and secondly the criticality of practice itself in historical perspective.

Second Module: Crisis in Modern Art/A View from Postmodern Art.

Third Module: The historical Avant-garde Origins of Modern Art: 19th Century French Art and Art Criticism: Dadaism & Surrealism will be a central focus.

Fourth Module: Colonialism/post colonialism and Art: India.

Fifth Module: Issues of Identity: Gender, Caste, Sexualities in Modern art, articulations of resistance.

Assessment Details with weights:

  • Term paper: 40%
  • Two Viva-Voce/Feedback assessments: 40%
  • Class attendance, regularity: 20%


Reading List:

  • Owens Crig, The Allegorical Impulse: Towards a Theory of Postmodernism, 1992.
  • Robert S. Nelson and Richard Shiff (eds), Critical Terms for Art History, Chapters on Simulacrum, Representation, Approriation, AvantGarde, Gaze, Gender, Postmodernism/Postcolonialism etc. 1996.
  • Hal Foster, Post Modern Culture, 1985.
  • Renato Poggioli; The Theory of the Avant-Garde 1962
  • Peter Bürger, Theory of the Avant-Garde (1974)
  • Achille Bonito Olivia, The Italian Trans-Avantgarde, 1990.
  • Hans Ritchter, Dada Art and Anti-Art, 1964
  • Micael Archer, Art Since 1960, 1997.
  • Art in Theory 1815-1900 (eds) Charles Harrison and Paul Wood with Jason Gaiger, 1998 & Art in Theory 1900-1990 (eds) Charles Harrison and Paul Wood, 1992.
  • Octovio Paz, Marcel Duchamp, Appearance Stripped Bare, 1978
  • Carol Duncan, The Aesthetic of Power –Essays in Crtical Art History, 1993.
  • Griselda Pollock, Vision and Difference- Femininity, feminism and histories of art,1988.
  • Arthur Danto, Playing with the Edge – The photographic Achivements of Robert Mapplethorpe, 1996.
  • Mitter, Partha(1994) Art and Nationalism in Colonial India 1850-1922, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press
  • Kumar, Shiva. R. (1997), Santiniketan: The Making of a Contextual Modernism, New Delhi, National Gallery of Modern Art. (b) Kumar, Shiva. R. (2003), “Santiniketan: A Community of Artist and Ideas”, in Contemporary Indian Art”, in Sinha, Gayatri, ed. Indian Art: An Overview, New Delhi, Rupa & Co. pp.66-79.
  • Panikkar, Shivaji, (2003) “Indigenism: An Inquiry into the Quest for “Indianness”, in Contemporary Indian Art”, in Sinha, Gayatri, ed. Indian Art: An Overview, New Delhi, Rupa & Co.
  • Sheikh, Gulammohammed, ed., (1997) Contemporary Art in Baroda, New Delhi, Tulika Books.
  • Hyman, Timothy, (1998), Bhupen Khakhar, Bombay, Chemould Publications and Arts and Mapin Publishing Pvt. Ltd. (Ahemedabad).
  • Kapur, Geeta (2000), When was Modernism, New Delhi, Tulika Books,



  • Anshuman Das Gupta & Shivaji Panikar, Transitional Modern: Figuring the Post Modern in India? Lalit Kala Contemporary, 41, 1995.
  • Shivaji K Panikkar, From Trivandrum to Baroda and Back: A Re-Reading of the “Radical” Subject Position, Nandan, Vol. XXVI, 2006.
  • Shivaji K. Panikkar, ‘The Identity of Painting in Modern India’, Outlines of Indian Arts: Architecture, Painting, Sculpture, Dance & Drama, IIAS, Shimla & Aryan Books International, New Delhi, 1914.
  • Shivaji Panikkar & Deeptha Achar: Articulating Resistance: Art and Activism, Tulika, New Delhi, 2012
  • Karin Zitzewitz, The Art of Secularism: Cultural Politics of Modernist Art in Contemporary India, 2014.