New York: Indian art and artists are the toast of a potential blockbuster launch of New York’s Met Breuer museum in the first week of March even as prime minister Narendra Modi speaking in Mumbai made a strong pitch for Indian art and its place in the world’s public square.
“Art brings history to life,” Narendra Modi said inaugurating a new building of Bombay Art Society.
Even as he spoke, the countdown to one of the most eagerly anticipated museum launches on the world art scene is gaining steam in New York — at the MetBreuer.
Writing in Business Standard on channeling corporate wealth to create better platforms for Indian art, Kishore Singh says the art fraternity is abuzz with news of the Met Breuer in New York opening with a retrospective of Indian artist Nasreen Mohamedi. “But what few know is that the exhibition is being supported by Nita and Mukesh Ambani and their Reliance Foundation”, Singh writes.
Indian art and artists need much better platforms, both at home and abroad. Even a rough estimate shows that the United States has thousands of exhibition spaces compared with barely more than 20 in India.
With roughly half of the world under 20 years of age and so caught up with “experiences” museums are swiftly reinventing their images from ‘containers’ to a sand box people can play in.
For a generation absorbed so intensely with fascination of the ‘now’, Met Breuer seeks to inform connections between past and present.
The Reliance Foundation effort to tap into that void and bring Indian art to the world’s doorstep has made it to the The New York Times special on the Met Breuer opening.
The Wall Street Journal touches off the grand scale of what Met Breuer is attempting considering its place as “one of the greatest encyclopedic museums in the world.”
That Sheena Wagstaff, former chief curator at London’s Tate Modern is about to make her debut at the museum’s new Breuer building by personally curating on the Indian minimalist Nasreen Mohamedi - India's Agnes Martin, has made headlines already. "Phenomenal and powerful," says Wagstaff of Mohamedi's work which spans "only three decades".
“…Sheena is particularly interested in figures who are not super well-represented in New York City,” say experts who are well aware of the urgent need to bring South Asia and the rich diversity of American's changing demography into the spotlight.
Better education and appetite for art go well together and museums hold up a mirror to immigrants about where they fit in a wider world, says The Economist.
For precisely this reason, Asians in America are more likely to be museum goers.
Reliance Foundation’s effort at the Art Institute of Chicago in late 2015 and now at the Met Breuer addresses the cultural connect for this cohort which represents the “smartest, most educated, most mobile generation ever” in recorded history.
Reliance Foundation brought the “Gates of the Lord: The Tradition of Krishna Paintings,” the first major U.S. exhibit of the art of the Pushtimarg, a Hindu sect of western India, to the Art Institute of Chicago which ran from September 2015 to January 2016. Gates of the Lord featured more than 100 objects celebrating Shrinathji, a form of Krishna.
Reliance Foundation in partnership with BP brought to India the internationally acclaimed exhibition ‘Mummy: The Inside Story’. The three-month exhibition increased the footfall of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (earlier called Prince of Wales Museum) to over 261,200 visitors, of which over 100,000 were students from nearly 300 schools.
“It’s about time, isn’t it?” says Meenakshi Shankar, 25, who runs in New York's Central Park in Metropolitan Museum's backyard. “I grew up in India, it feels great to know that my identity is reflected in one of the world’s greatest museums. I’m looking forward to more Asian events at the Met,” she says.
Calling the Met Breuer, “a standalone home to the Metropolitan museum’s aspirations in Modern and contemporary art” Blouin Artinfo reports that Wagstaff has gathered an inclusive cohort of curators, with specialties ranging from performance, decorative arts, and architecture to regional expertise in Latin America, the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey, and South Asia.
As museums around the world stake their claim as cultural centres, going beyond traditional subjects such as art and artefacts, science and history, Met Breuer aspires to be the coolest hangout in the city, headlined by Indian art and artists.
Coinciding with the Nasreen Mohamedi exhibition, Harvard professor and Grammy nominated jazz pianist Vijay Iyer will be performing live at the Met Breuer lobby, redefining the traditional concept of an art installation.
(Disclosure: Firstpost is part of Network18 Media & Investment Limited - owned by Reliance Industries Limited.)