20th Century Indian Art Modern, Post- Independence, Contemporary

Partha Mitter, Parul Dave Mukherji, Rakhee Balaram

A Financial Times Book of the Year 2022

A major publication showcasing the history of Indian art across the subcontinent and South Asia from the late-nineteenth century to the present day.

This landmark collection presents a new history of Indian art from the twentieth century to the present day. Recent decades have seen an overdue interest in the acquisition and exhibition of modern Indian and South Asian art and artists by major international museums. This essential, lavishly illustrated volume presents an engaging, informative history of modern art from the subcontinent as seen through the eyes of prominent Indian art historians.

Illustrations are paired with a strong narrative through line, where key experts contribute multiple perspectives on modernism, modernity, and plurality, as well as expansive ideas about contemporary art practices. A range of subjects, including Group 1890, the Madras Art Movement, Regional Modern, and Dalit art, are contextualized, along with key artists such as Amrita Sher-Gil and Raqs Media Collective. There are also sections devoted to the art of Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and other parts of South Asia.

Together with lively expert discussions and a selection of absorbing interviews with artists, 20th Century Indian Art meets a clear demand for a comprehensive and authoritative sourcebook on modern, postmodern, and contemporary Indian art. This is the definitive reference for anyone with an interest in Indian art and non-Western art histories.

Published in association with Art Alive


A must read for art students, scholars, collectors, and enthusiasts alike. Some of the most interesting chapters are on figures who have slipped out of the pages of mainstream art history.

— MintLounge

Indian art has found an immensely impressive range of historians and commentators, and a global context, in this enormous, significant scholarly landmark. Micro stories and the big picture, peripheries and the center, colonial and postcolonial assumptions, modernism's freedoms and constraints: every tightrope is walked with balance and insight.

— Financial Times

A landmark publication … It would make an important addition to the shelves of any art lover's personal library.

— Art Society Review

Sumptuously produced … [an] essential critical compendium.

— India Today

A sea of riches … an irreplaceable resource … The more one tries to lasso the book and pull it closer for a comprehensive comment, the more it slips away into nooks and crannies of Indian art-making that are riveting. [Ultimately] it drives home the task it surely set itself: to entice, to reveal, to mystify, to clarify, to tantalize, to confuse, to provoke, to pacify, to anger, even, as much to delight … enacting the range of the art it captures, in as many compelling ways.

— The Telegraph India

For range and depth, a landmark in Indian art history. It pulls the marginal towards the centre yet keeps the big picture in view, rethinks modernism's freedoms, and troubles in a broadened global context and negotiates colonial and postcolonial assumptions with nuanced understanding.

— Financial Times

My vote for the most important book of the year goes to 20th Century Indian Art by Partha Mitter, Parul Dave Mukherji, and Rakhee Balaram. Beautifully produced and encyclopaedic, it provides expert insights on everything from street photography and installations to Regional Modern and Dalit art, and art and activism. It also includes sections on art from the diaspora and from other South Asian countries.

— Manjula Narayan, Hindustan Times

A pioneering work of art-historical scholarship illuminated by revisionary contemporary critical and cultural frameworks … a landmark cosmopolitan contribution to the profound spirit of intellectual inquiry and aesthetic hospitality that have, through the centuries, inspired the arts of India.

— Homi K. Bhabha, Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of the Humanities,

This wide-ranging, 750-page monument to the last century of art across South Asia puts its many movements and artists into authoritative context.

— The New York Times Book Review

At long last, Indian art from the long 20th century gets the forensic treatment.

— The Art Newspaper

An expansive and scholarly work [that] explores the many artists, ideas, philosophies and the often turbulent social and political upheavals that have fed into 100 years of art in India.

— Hettie Judah, Art Quarterly

20th Century Indian Art illustrates styles of art and craft in India that are complex and deeply enmeshed with geopolitics, identity, nationhood, post-colonial sensibilities, and creative subjectivities. At every page, readers enjoy pleasant visuals and sound research in this highly instructive sourcebook, urging us to broaden our minds as we critically approach these unique strands of Indian art history.

— Nageen Shaikh Hyperallergic


Partha Mitter


Partha Mitter is an emeritus professor of art history at the University of Sussex, England.

Parul Dave Mukherji


Parul Dave-Mukherji is a professor and former dean at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India.

Rakhee Balaram


Rakhee Balaram is an assistant professor of Global Modern and Contemporary Art and Art History at University at Albany, State University of New York.