India’s Rockefeller Artists

India’s Rockefeller Artists

India’s Rockefeller Artists

Gallery Exhibition

India’s Rockefeller Artists

An Indo-US Cultural Saga

New Delhi: 31st August 2024 – 12th October 2024
Venue: New Delhi: 22A, Janpath Road, Windsor Place, New Delhi
10:30 am to 7:00 pm

Mumbai: Kala Ghoda, 29 November 2018 – 16 February 2019

New York: The Fuller Building, 7 November 2017 – 3 March 2018

Early twentieth-century India, there was a burgeoning of local artistic expressions and a rejection of academic realism in favour of indigenous cultural identity. Schools and collectives such as the Bengal School, Calcutta Group, Baroda Group and Progressive Artists’ Group emerged from the time of India’s independence. Rockefeller’s influence on modern Indian art should be viewed within this context of a diversifying Indian art landscape.

John D. Rockefeller III (1906-1978) was a philanthropist with a passion for international relations and art. Alongside his wife, Blanchette Hooker, he developed an interest in Asian art. His engagement with Asia began in 1929, leading to the founding of the Japan Society, International House of Japan, and the Asia Society. In 1958, Rockefeller visited India and met Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, emphasising cultural exchange between the U.S. and Asia.In the 1950s, Rockefeller's philanthropic efforts grew, and he, along with Porter McCray (a former director of MoMA), established the JDR 3rd Fund, enabling artists to visit America, fostering India’s art scene and highlighting cultural understanding alongside political and economic interactions for effective international relations.

India’s Rockefeller Artists showcases iconic works of the Indian painters and sculptors who travelled to the US on philanthropic grants from the JDR 3rd Fund (1963–1979) and later through the Asian Cultural Council. These artists were exposed to American art and shared their own learnings and experiences through these enriching cultural exchanges. The show examines how and why these artists were selected; their relationships with each other and the American art milieu; the impact of the experience on their work; and the creation of a community of Rockefeller artists.

The grant benefited some of India’s most important artists, including V.S. Gaitonde, who had a retrospective at the Guggenheim, New York, in 2013; Tyeb Mehta, one of the most widely collected artists in private and public collections; Akbar Padamsee, Ram Kumar, Bal Chhabda and Krishen Khanna, all associates of the then Bombay-based Progressive Artists’ Group. Natvar Bhavsar, Jyoti Bhatt, K.G. Subramanyan, A.M. Davierwala, Avinash Chandra, Arun Bose, Paritosh Sen, K.S. Kulkarni, Vinod Dave, Bhupen Khakhar and Rekha Rodwittiya were some of the other notable beneficiaries whose contribution to Indian art practice in the twentieth century has been seminal.

‘The show examines why and how these artists were selected, their relationships with each other, their interactions amidst the American art milieu, and the impact of the experience on both their body of work and the creation of a community of Rockefeller artists’

– Art Radar Journal, 2018

exhibition highlights

Exhibition and Events