An extensive exhibitions programme includes a strong focus on contemporary art. A series of curated exhibitions titled 'Engaging Traditions', invites artists to respond to the Museum’s collection, history and archives. These exhibitions are presented in the Kamalnayan Bajaj Special Exhibitions Gallery (KBG) in the main Museum building and may involve interventions into the vitrines holding the permanent collections. The Museum also hosts exhibitions in collaboration with galleries and other institutions in the Special Project Space (SPS) in the Museum Plaza. The Museum has successfully partnered with international museums and institutions to showcase contemporary artists and exhibitions which relate to the Museum’s permanent collection.
A series of curated exhibitions titled 'Engaging Traditions', invites artists to respond to the Museum’s collection, history and archives, addressing issues that speak directly to the traditions and issues that underlie the founding of the Museum, yet evoke the present by challenging orthodoxies and questioning assumptions. Several distinguished contemporary artists including Jitish Kallat, Sudarshan Shetty, L.N. Tallur and Ranjini Shettar have participated in this programme.
Through collaborations with international institutes, the Museum has hosted several exhibitions. Contemporary Photography and the Olympic Posters were presented from the V & A Museum, London. German artist Eberhard Havekost's works were presented in collaboration with the Dresden State Art Collections and the exhibition Social Fabric was showcased with INIVA (Institute of International Visual Arts) London, and the Goethe-Institut, Max Mueller Bhavan, Mumbai. The Museum collaborated with the Guggenheim Museum, New York, to present the BMW Guggenheim Lab in Mumbai,and the Ermenegildo Zegna group on the project ZegnArt Public in 2013. Most recently, the Museum hosted an acclaimed masterpiece of the Florentine Renaissance, Lorenzo Ghiberti’s (Italian, 1378-1455) The Gates of Paradise (1425-52), through a special collaboration with the Guild of the Dome Association, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, Max-Planck-Institute, and the Museum of the Opera del Duomo. Folk Archive, a vibrant, visual account of contemporary popular British culture was held in collaboration with the British Council.
In collaboration with Delhi Art Gallery
Nine artists find special mention in India as ‘art treasures, having regard to their artistic and aesthetic value’, a directive by the Archaeological Survey of India in the 1970s. Spanning a period of one hundred years of art practice, these artists represent a diversity of art traditions and movements but unified by one common thread: a return to Indian roots through context, theme, subject and an engagement with identity.
India’s art tradition had been rendered subservient to a Western-oriented approach as taught in the art schools from the mid-nineteenth century onwards. Artists adopted it to contextualise, first, her own history and mythology, and then localise it in a vernacular that found recognition and empathy among its Indian viewers. It addressed and paralleled, to an extent, the freedom movement, and images were co-opted by freedom fighters in an attempt to create visual icons that unified them under a pan-national banner.
While the precursors of the nationalist movement created recognisable imagery based on the past, their most important distinction was to celebrate India’s rural resilience and countryside. The subaltern came to occupy a significant part of their work, and resulting images came to be associated with the freedom movement as well as India’s civilisational position and aspiration at the start of the twentieth century. This historic exhibition traverses the distinctive works undertaken by these nine artists, the common strands that bind them as well as the differences that set them apart from each other.
Since the late 19th – early 20th century, poster design has been recognised in the Polish artistic tradition as a source of national pride. In its early stages, posters executed in Poland and in surrounding countries were very similar and comparable in form. During the 1920s, when the poster was becoming defined as an independent art form, an interest in folk art patterns emerged and later, this use of native folklore as a source of innovation served to form a Polish national style.
Poster design was considered a driving force of artistic progress as it brought together architecture, painting and sculpture with artistic design. Artists were not limited to the creation of unique pieces, they were also able to use mass production to present common symbols and aesthetics of the times into their work. It was precisely this ability to blend both the new and the existing that brought Polish artists to a level of international recognition for their modern stylisation and interpretation of folklore at the Paris Exposition of Decorative Art in 1925. In addition to the conservative trends represented by references to folk art, a modernistic orientation, open to impulses from the outside, also appeared and was best expressed by students at the Warsaw Polytechnic Institute. The high awards received by them were recognition of the unique qualities of Polish posters as being highly conceptual, with rationality and clarity of composition.
It was this harmonious synthesis of traditionalism and modernism that best defined Polish poster art in the period between the wars. Towards the end of this period, a distinct ‘Polish’ style emerged. Its aesthetics were not described by any one norm. Instead, it was a mosaic of individual ideas and inquiries, using different mediums, which strongly emphasised the individuality of the artists.