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Indian Art Paperback – December 17, 1997

4 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

This book is a worthy addition to Phaidon's excellent Art and Ideas series, which provides overviews of the major art traditions of the world. India is vast (the size of Europe); the birthplace of great religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism; and the home of sophisticated civilizations dating back more than 4,000 years. These factors combine to give India one of the longest and most complex art traditions of the world--and one of the hardest to make accessible to the general reader.

Vidya Dehejia, curator of Indian art at the Smithsonian Institution, is up to the task. She sets the scene with an invaluable chapter explaining ancient Indian theories of art and aesthetics, including the responsibilities of the viewer. Most important is the realization that "the consistent fabric of Indian life was never rent by the Western dichotomy between religious belief and worldly practice"--hence the easy coexistence in India of extreme religious asceticism and the overt eroticism that pervades temples like Khajuraho and Patan. The book proceeds in a grand sweep, from the ancient cities of the Indus valley, the development of Buddhist art (which by the 12th century had faded away in the land of its birth), the glorious paintings of Ajanta, the luxury of Mughal art and architecture, art of the British Raj, to today's artistic ferment. Clear and well-written, with nearly 300 well-chosen color illustrations, this is an extremely useful introduction to India's vast artistic wealth. --John Stevenson

From Library Journal

Dehejia, curator of the Smithsonian's Indian and Southeast Asian collection, surveys the full breadth of artistic traditions from ancient times to the present. Rossi (painting, Art Inst. of Chicago) focuses her sights on the popular and folk arts of the last four centuries.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Series: Art and Ideas
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Phaidon Press (December 17, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0714834963
  • ISBN-13: 978-0714834962
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,435 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Vidya's book is a delight not just for the scope and content of the written material and references, but also for visual pleasures it provides to the users. Indian art is nothing if not immensely varied and rich, and Vidya brings this to the fore. I was delighted to see the way the Madurai Meenakhsi temple was treated, to see its Gopurams teeming with mythological figures and dieties of all kinds : an apt symbol of the diversity and richness of this civilization and of life that it celebrates, for in many ways Indian art is like life : beautiful and confusing at the same time, a buzz of forms , shapes, and materials, all with their own rationale for existence and appeal. Vidya's book tries to a give a very good idea of this, from the earthy Khajuraho to the elegant Elephanta, from the ancient Indo-Greek Gandharan Buddhas to the naturalistic Nayaka. A book to please both scholars and lay readers alike.
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By A Customer on January 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is a significant improvement over Roy Craven's colonialist take on Indian art. This book is much more sensitive to the culture of India and its rich amalgamation of Vedic thought, the religion and philosophy of Buddhism, what we now term as Hinduism, and of course, later Islamic influence. Especially significant is the explanation of the narrative sculptural relief panels at Sanchi and Amaravati. Dehejia explains their rich narratives clearly - and what at first appears confusing becomes instead a rich tapestry of imagination. Her explanations also merge style with context; in effect, we understand these panels as they were understood at the time of their historical inception. She rightly de-emphasizes the dynastic and stylistically rigid categorizations that are so predominant in Western scholarship. A worthy and timely text. I highly recommend it.
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By A Customer on September 15, 2003
Format: Paperback
While no expert in Indian art and architecture, I have been studying in this area off and on for about fifteen years. I have not encountered an introductory survey that was more balanced and illuminating. It is also well written and beautifully illustrated. The eccentric reviewer who accorded this book merely one star is obviously carping--perhaps because his or her own work was omitted from the necessarily selective bibliography. The other reviews have all been favorable up to this point, and for a good reason.
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Format: Paperback
Vidya's survey is outstanding.Her exposition of the 'Rasa' theory in Hindu aesthetics should help non-Hindus to understand the alternative basis of art appreciation.She points out that according to this 'Rasa' theory the contemplation of a work of art must evoke in the viewer a state of "heightened awareness" of an emotion, the emotions being, erotic, comic,kindliness, furiousness,heroic,terrible,odious, wondrous and peaceful.Hindu aesthetics thus stressed the prominent role of the viewer's response in the appreciation of art.This theory was crystallized in the fourth century ACE.
One may recall Eliot's criticism of Shakespeare's Hamlet that it lacked 'objective correlation',i.e.,that when certain external facts which must terminate in a sensory experience are given, a relevant emotion should be immediately evoked.
Vidya also points out that in the visual story-telling adopted by sculptors in Ancient India, viewers understood that the lower part of a panel was near to them and the upper part further away.When this has been basically understood, displaying the objects in the 'background' of a relief as large and clear as those in the 'foreground' led to a legible telling of the story. Vidya says that ,therefore, perspective was a non-issue, clarity of of visual comprehension was the objective.
On the whole a very impressive survey. The photographs are also very good. I only wish Vidya had said more about Chola Sculpture like Dakshinamurthy and Bronzes like Parvathi in the Sackler Art Gallery, Washington.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's all right for a very, very brief introduction, but that's it. After taking a class on this book at UC Berkeley, reading this book barely scratches the surface of Indian Art. If you're genuinely interested in the subject, you'd probably be better served by a more in depth treatment of the subject. The paper quality, binding, and images within the book are at a high standard, and the book itself is at a nice price point.
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Format: Paperback
This text is scholarly and thus somewhat dense- i.e. to me a little tough to read for someone new to the subject. It covers content areas I haven't seen discussed in other Indian art surveys, such as a discussion of Portuguese Goa and a chapter on 20th century art in India.In general I like Phaidon publisher's art history surveys.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It was a very good book. Very informative and helpful for classes. Beautiful pictures back up the writing and help you get a good idea for Indian art and architecture. "Indian Art" also helps you learn about the history of the Indus valley civilization and different archeological finds and theories based on those finds.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Good book beautiful photos and lots of great historical information. I would recommend this book to anyone who has an Asian Art history class or simply likes Asian art and History.
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