• 08 Jan
    26 Feb

    Aesthetics, Criticism and Theory (ACT)

    Chaitanya Sambrani


This series of eight seminars will explore histories of modernism in the visual arts over a century-long span starting in the late 1860s. It will present an introduction to modernist trajectories in Euro-American art (primarily France, Italy, Germany and USA) in juxtaposition to coeval and contrapuntal developments in three Asian contexts (India, Indonesia and Japan). In doing this, the seminars will interrogate the originary mythologies of modernism including the privileged position usually ascribed to white heterosexual masculinity. Having first introduced the mainstream narrative of the “heroic quarter” characterised by rapid experimentation and multiple “-isms” in European art, the seminars will consider differential developments in Asian art. The three Asian contexts selected for study will be analysed as instances of deep entanglement with the narrative of Euro-American modernity alongside the concomitant invention of tradition. The impact of colonisation and imperialism on artistic modernity will be discussed together with anti-colonial and nationalist aspirations, and impulses towards pan-Asianist solidarities. Students will be introduced to the careers of significant artists and theorists even as histories of art are explicated in light of political histories.

Euro-American trajectories

  • The analytical revolution 1: avant-garde; “heroic quarter”
  • Europe and its others: expressionism and the “primitive”; surrealism and the “unconscious”
  • After the rain: trans-Atlantic developments post-1945

Asian Modernisms: India, Indonesia, Japan

  • Mimicry, agency and improvisation in the nineteenth century
  • Revival, return and reinvention: nationalism and pan-Asianism
  • Vernacular and cosmopolitan modernisms
  • Oppositions and alternatives to national trajectories
  • Politics and narrative: towards the contemporary

Classes mainly on Saturdays

Eligibility: Graduation Degree

Admission Requirements: 

A copy of your last degree certificate
A 100 - 150 words Bio 
A passport-size photograph

Please read the Terms and Conditions carefully before registering.

Duration -

January 8, 15, 22, 29 ; February 5, 12, 19, 26, 2022

Timing: 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM IST


Rs. 8,000 (For student discounts registrations kindly email

Chaitanya Sambrani

Chaitanya Sambrani

Chaitanya Sambrani is an art historian, curator and teacher. An alumnus of the Faculty of Fine Arts, Baroda (MA) and the Australian National University (PhD), he has taught courses on modernist and contemporary Asian art at the ANU since 2002. His curatorial projects include Edge of Desire: Recent Art in India (travelling exhibition: Australia, USA, Mexico, India, 2004-07), Place.Time.Play: Contemporary Art from the West Heavens to the Middle Kingdom (the first contemporary art exchange and exhibition involving Indian and Chinese artists, 2010) and Savanhdary Vongpoothorn: All that Arises (25-year survey of the Lao-Australian artist’s work, 2019). He is currently working on a study of international affiliations and cosmopolitan aspirations in the modern art of India and Indonesia.