DOCUMENTA KASSEL 16/06-23/09 2007


Kalighat Painting

© V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The bazaars in the British colonial city of Calcutta opened up access to art forms from other parts of India, Europe and China as well as to new materials. A new, direct painting style emerged to become the most important folk art form. The watercolours on paper were produced from the 1830s until approximately the 1930s. Instead of artists simple artisans of a low social status produced them at so-called shop studios. They were given the name Kalighat paintings due to the fact that they were produced and sold on the streets around the Kali temple (a site of pilgrimage). The paintings are very modern in the way lines and colours were used. Humorous everyday scenes are also depicted in addition to mythological, religious themes and pictures of Hindu deities such as the god Kali. The paintings were not viewed as aesthetically innovative until they were stopped being produced in the early twentieth century.