The Madras Art Movement (1960s–1980s) By Bhagat, Ashrafi S.
The Madras Art movement was a regional modern art movement that emerged in the 1960s at Madras [Chennai], South India. Post Independence , Indian artists had to establish their identity and authenticity as did Third World nations internationally. From the locus of the colonial established Madras School of Arts and Crafts, Devi Prasad Roy Chowdhury, its first Indian artist Principal (appointed in 1930) created the fine arts curriculum and set the stage for the development of this modern movement. It was developed further under K.C.S. Paniker, the Principal of the Art School in the 1960s [1957–1966]. The group of artists that came together in the early 1960s within the art institution provides for a critical study of modernity exercised by them within the parentheses of the Madras Art Movement. This movement that took place in the early 1960s was pushed creatively by visionaries and stalwarts such as K.C.S. Paniker in painting and S. Dhanapal in sculpture. The artist-teachers along with students creatively interacted with the vernacular art of the region, thus the school played a pivotal role in the formation of artistic statements from the core members of the Madras Art Movement. As it was the only institution offering comprehensive art education in South India, until the emergence of other art institutions in the 1960s, many students aspiring to be artists gravitated here from the four states of Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Within the movement two broad styles, ‘‘Figurative’’ and ‘‘Abstract,’’ can be identified as practiced by the artists who passed through the portals of this institution and established themselves as artists in their own right.