Indian Art for the RISD Collection
The Festival of India, which opened in June this year and will continue until Spring next year, has been conceived to provide the American public with glimpses into the life, art, and culture of India. As RISD's contribution to the Festival, it is hoped that this exhibition too will provide insights into the extraordinary depth and strength of India's rich artistic tradition. It also illustrates the Museum's commitment to expand continually the size and quality of our Indian collection: half the objects on display have been acquired since 1981.
There is no single Indian style of art. Different schools and traditions have flourished side by side in India for the best part of three milennia. Some have exerted profound influence over huge geographic areas while others have remained localized to the smallest tribal tracts. Furthermore, ruling dynasties and their preferred religions have not always been the deciding factors in the development of art in India. Hindu sculpture is not always stylistically distinct from Buddhist sculpture, for example, and most of the greatest miniatures produced for the Muslim emperors of the Mughal dynasty were painted by Hindu artists. The social and philosophical forces behind the production of art in India are too vast and complex to crystallize into a single stylistic development. In fact, it is often the ability to incorporate a radically different foreign aesthetic--such as the classical elements in the Gandharan head of the Buddha or the use of European conventions for portraying depth an dspace in Mughal miniatures--that is the most intrinsically Indian. Evidence of an ancient culture strong enough to consistently interact and co-exist with the constant flow of new peoples and cultures that history has led into India.