Rakhee Balaram is assistant professor of art & art history at the University at Albany, State University of New York. She has previously taught history of art at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, and at the University of Warwick. She is currently working on two book-length projects, Decolonizing the Modern: Amrita Sher-Gil, Rabindranath Tagore and the Global Avant-Garde, a paradigmatic reassessment of two major Indian artists in the wake of global modernism, and Counterpractice: Psychoanalysis, Politics and the Art of ‘French Feminism’, or an alternative history of art in France after May ’68 (forthcoming, Manchester University Press). In 2011-2012, she was curator of Fragility, a large-scale exhibition focusing on contemporary Indian art and politics in Gurgaon, India.

The exhibition has led to a long-term research project, Postcolonialism and the Politics of Touch: Contemporary Indian Art and the New Sensorial. She is co-editor, along with Partha Mitter and Parul Dave-Mukherji, of a comprehensive survey of modern and contemporary Indian art, 20th Century Indian Art. Balaram holds double doctorates in French literature from Cambridge University and the history of art from the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London.

Decolonizing the Modern:
Amrita Sher-Gil, Rabindranath
Tagore, and the Global Avant-Garde

‘Decolonizing the Modern’ takes a paradigmatic view of two major Indian artists, Amrita Sher-Gil (1913-1941) and Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), in the wake of global modernism. These artists, so different in their aesthetic orientations, have yet to be fully understood in terms of their encounters and contribution to artistic practice both within and outside of South Asia. Sher-Gil migrated between Europe and India, while Tagore, after his Nobel Prize in 1913, travelled to the United States, Europe, South America, the Middle East, and Asia.

The artists forged connections with artists, schools, and movements outside of India as they contended with nationalist and revivalist movements back home. After independence in 1947, and during the decades of nation- and institution-building to follow, the canonization of these two artists would continue. With an emphasis on transcultural, feminist, and global approaches to art history, this research leads to a significant reconsideration of the work of Sher-Gil and Tagore in India and outside of the country.