'This book is the first inter-disciplinary engagement with the work of Maqbool Fida Husain, arguably India’s most iconic contemporary artist today, whose life and work are intimately entangled with the career of independent India as a democratic, secular and multi-ethnic nation. For more than half a century, and across thousands of canvases, Husain has painted individuals and objects, events and incidents that offer an astonishing visual chronicle of India through the ages.
The 13 articles in this volume — written by distinguished artists, curators, anthropologists, historians, art historians and critics, sociologists and scholars of post-colonial literature and religion — critically examine the artistic statement that Husain has presented on the self, community and nation through his oeuvre. It engages with the controversies that have erupted around and about Husain’s work, and situates them in debates around the freedom of the artist versus the sentiments of the community, between "virtue" and "obscenity", between an "elite" of intellectuals and the "common man", and between a "work of art" and a "religious icon". Correspondingly it considers how India has responded to Husain: with affection, admiration and adulation on the one hand, and hostility and rejection on the other.' (Excerpt from front flap)
This volume is the outcome of a conference organised by Sumathi Ramaswamy at Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina, United States, in April 2009. It is the first in a series titled Visual & Media Histories, which takes as its starting point notions of the visual, and of vision, as central in producing meanings, maintaining aesthetic values and relations of power. It is premised on the conviction that the making, theorising and historicising of images do not exist in exclusive distinction of one another. With preface by Monica Juneja. Contributors' biographies included.