Profiles of 80 major and not-so-major artists, both painters and sculptors who have shaped contemporary Indian art, constitute the kernel of this coffee table tome whose utility as a reference volume cannot be overestimated. Five introductory essays trace the genesis and subsequent growth of various important schools and movements of Indian art in five major centres—Mumbai, Bengal, Baroda, New Delhi and the South. In their succinct, illuminating essays, the respective authors—Yashodhara Dalmia, Ella Datta, Chaitanya Sambrani, Martha Jakimowicz-Karle and Santo Datta—present a vivid overview of the different directions artistic expression in post-Independence India has taken, placing each movement against a specific cultural backdrop.
However, some of the profiles are far too brief, more like teasers. And then, there is nothing about the lesser-known figures of Indian contemporary art, artists who do not normally seek or get much play in the media. But it is easy to overlook this minor irritant because there is so much else to this book. Studded with 250 colour plates reproduced with stunning clarity and buttressed by informed analysis, it should find a place on the bookshelves of art students and connoisseurs alike. Not the least for the delightfully flashy cover design by Husain.